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Princess Birgitta of Sweden celebrates 80th birthday

Today, 19 January, Princess Birgitta of Sweden, older sister of King Carl XVI Gustaf, turns 80. For this special occasion, the Princess has given an exclusive interview on her life, her children and her family.

Princess Birgitta of Sweden, Princess of Hohenzollern was born on 19 January 1937 as the second daughter of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla of Sweden. Princess Birgitta grew up in a family with four sisters and one brother – the now King Carl XVI Gustaf. The family of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla lived at Haga Slott (Haga Palace), and therefore, Birgitta and her four sisters are called the Hagasessorna (Haga sisters) by the media and the public. In 1947, the family was confronted with drama. Prince Gustaf Adolf, a father to five young children, was killed in a plane crash at Kastrup Airport, Denmark. In various recent interviews, both the Haga sisters and King Carl XVI Gustaf have talked about the death of their father as being a very difficult moment in their young lives.

The Hagasessorna and Prince Carl Gustaf with their mother, Princess Sibylla at Solliden Palace, 1950s (Photo: Public Domain of Sweden via Wiki Commons)

On 25 May 1961, Princess Birgitta married Prince Johann Georg “Hansi” of Hohenzollern in a civil ceremony in Stockholm. Their religious wedding took place a few days later in Sigmaringen, Germany, the groom’s family place. The couple split up in 1990 but remained married until Hansi’s death in 2016.

After their break-up, the Princess moved from Munich to Mallorca, Spain, where she still lives today. Their split was amicable, and they remained good friends. They also celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2011 and attended the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel together. Princess Birgitta has stated that the reason for their split was that they realised how different they were after the children moved out. On 2 March 2016, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern died. Princess Birgitta was by his side.

Wedding of Princess Birgitta & Prince Johan Georg von Hohenzollern, 1961 (Photo: Public Domain of Sweden via Wiki Commons)

Now that Princess Birgitta is celebrating her 80th birthday, she has given an exclusive interview to the Swedish magazine, Svensk Damtidning. In the interview, the Princess has talked about the difficult moments in her life. One of those moments was when her grandson, Prince Lennart died in January 2001. The baby was only a few days old.

Princess Birgitta was very emotional as she said: “The worst thing I experienced besides my father’s death was when my little grandson Lennart died. He was only three days old. Everything was wrong with him, and we had just enough time baptize him. To stand there and watch the children suffer, it was the worst I have experienced. My son…”

Princess Birgitta was moved to tears as she continued (talking about her son Prince Hubertus and his wife who lost the baby): “It has not been easy for them, but they are brave and I admire them.”

In the new interview, Princess Birgitta was also asked about her late husband Prince Johan Georg “Hansi” who died in March 2016. She said: “I was probably the happiest when I was newly married and had my first child. It was happiness.”

Birgitta has always openly spoken about her marriage and did so this time, as well. She revealed: “He said so often, ‘you with your stupid sports’. It was sad to hear because sport is the best there is for young people…We were so totally different, but you just don’t know that when you fall in love.” 

Even though Birgitta and Hansi separated in 1990, the couple never divorced. When asked about the reason they stayed together she said: “No, we did not divorce. There was no question about it. It was more practical, and so everyone was feeling good. The kids felt good about it.”

Another difficult moment in the life of Princess Birgitta is undoubtedly the recent sickness of her sister, Princess Christina. Last year the palace announced Princess Christina was suffering from chronic leukemia. Birgitta said about her sister: “It’s sad. I often talk with her and she feels pretty good actually. She is tough.”

When asked about how Birgitta supports Christina she said: “We are talking. I’m trying to prove that I exist, and I send over some thoughts occasionally. More can’t be done. I am ashamed sometimes because I feel so good and when I said it to Titti she said ‘no, you must not.’ But it feels so, life is unfair.” 

Princess Christina, Princess Birgitta’s younger sister was recently diagnosed with chronic leukemia. (P: Frankie Fouganthin via Wiki Commons)

Today, King Carl XVI Gustaf will hold a special birthday party in honour of Princess Birgitta’s 80th birthday at Drottningholm Palace, which Crown Princess Victoria is said to have helped plan. All the Haga sisters (including Princess Christina) are expected to attend. Princess Madeleine and her family travelled from London yesterday, as well for the celebrations. Birgitta’s birthday will be privately celebrated among family members.

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.