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Princesses who married commoners: Sweden’s Princesses Margaretha, Désirée and Christina

Ahead of Princess Eugenie’s wedding this Friday, we look at other royals who have married commoners. 

Despite living mostly private lives these days, the four older sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden were famously known in their youth as the Haga Princesses. The name Haga came from their residence, Haga Palace. The palace is now the official residence of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her family.

The four sisters -Princesses Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina- were the children of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla of Sweden, and they were all born at a time when their great-grandfather, Gustaf V, reigned as King of Sweden. Their paternal grandparents were Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, Crown Princess Margaretha (born Princess Margaret of Connaught), a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, Crown Princess Margaretha didn’t live enough to see her husband become King Gustaf VI Adolf as she died in 1920, while pregnant with the couple’s sixth child.

The Princesses’ father died unexpectedly at the age of 40 in an airplane crash, leaving his 9-month-old son as second-in-line to succeed his great-grandfather, King Gustaf V, and his grandfather, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf.

Between the four sisters, Princess Birgitta alone made an equal marriage, and thus, only she retained her membership of the Royal House, the style of Royal Highness and the title of Princess of Sweden. Birgitta married Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern in a civil ceremony on 25 May 1961 at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, the religious ceremony being held at a later date at groom’s family home in Germany. Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg had three children together but separated in 1990. They never divorced, but she moved to Majorca, Spain.

The other sisters all made unequal marriages to commoners and forfeited their titles of Princess of Sweden and style of Royal Highness. As at the time, according to the Constitution of Sweden, only men had rights of succession to the throne, the Haga Princesses never had any dynastic rights that they could lose through marriage. When the Act of Succession of Sweden was changed in 1980 to give women the right to succeed to the throne, it was only given to the descendants of the current King, Carl XVI Gustaf.

Princess Margaretha was born 31 October 1934 as the first child of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sybilla. She married British-born John Ambler on 30 June 1964 in a low-key ceremony in Öland, Sweden. After her marriage to a commoner, her grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, decided that her title would change from HRH Princess Margaretha of Sweden to Princess Margaretha, Mrs Ambler. The couple settled in the United Kingdom and had three children together. John Ambler died on 31 May 2008.

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Princess Désirée, born on 2 June 1938, was her parents’ third child but the second to get married, months before Princess Margaretha and three years after Princess Birgitta. Désirée married Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld on 5 June 1964 at the Storkyrkan in Stockholm, the same church where King Carl XVI Gustaf married Queen Silvia in 1976 and Crown Princess Victoria married Prince Daniel in 2010. The King decided that after her marriage she should be styled as Princess Désirée, Baroness Silfverschiöld. The Princess, who is Crown Princess Victoria’s godmother, moved into her husband’s family home, Koberg Castle, and had three children with her husband. Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld died last year aged 82.

Princess Christina, born on 3 August 1943 as the youngest of the Haga Princesses, served as First Lady of Sweden between her mother’s death in 1972 and the King’s marriage in 1976 and remained the most active of the sisters until her 75th birthday this year when she announced her retirement from public duties. The Princess married Tord Magnuson at the Royal Palace’s Church in Stockholm on 15 June 1946. Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson, who is Princess Madeleine’s godmother, had three sons with her husband.

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