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Royal Wedding Rewind: Princess Birgitta of Sweden

Princess Birgitta of Sweden has always known how to make her mark. The second sister of King Carl XVI Gustaf is known for her originality and her wedding was stand out, too, for several reasons. Birgitta was the only one of her siblings to marry a fellow royal and the only one who didn’t choose to marry in June. She was also the first of the five children of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sybilla to wed and the event itself was far from straight forward. Let’s rewind to the marriage of Princess Birgitta of Sweden and Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern.

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The couple met in Germany in 1959 where Birgitta had gone for language lessons. They continued to see one another and announced their engagement in December 1960. However, Birgitta was Lutheran and her husband to be, known as Hansi, was Catholic. In the end it was agreed they would wed in two ceremonies – a civil marriage in Stockholm, followed by a Catholic ceremony in Sigmaringen in Germany. On the eve of her Swedish ceremony, Birgitta’s grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, hosted a gala dinner for the couple at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

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The palace was the setting for the civil ceremony itself. On May 25th 1961, Birgitta and Johann Georg’s first marriage took place in the Hall of State in front of around 750 guests. The bride wore an ivory duchess satin dress created by the Martaskolan atelier in Stockholm. It featured a rounded neckline, three quarter length sleeves and a fitted bodice as well as a full length, voluminous skirt. The train, around 13 feet long, was covered with a tulle veil. For her civil wedding, Birgitta chose to wear the Swedish Royal Family’s Cameo Tiara. She carried a bouquet of yellow roses.

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The couple enjoyed a carriage ride through the streets of Stockholm and a wedding reception at the Royal Palace before getting ready to travel to Germany for the religious wedding. On May 29th, the groom’s father held a gala event to mark the upcoming ceremony although the bride was slightly distracted, having discovered that the petticoats for her wedding dress had been left behind in Stockholm and were being rushed to her overnight. They arrived in time for the second ceremony which took place on May 30th 1961 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Sigmaringen. Birgitta’s outfit was almost identical. However, she swapped the Cameo Tiara for a wedding crown belonging to her new husband’s family.

Birgitta and Johann Georg went on to have three children together. In 1990, they decided to separate although they never formally divorced. They continued to attend major royal events together and held celebrations marking fifty years since their marriage in 2011. Prince Johann Georg died in 2016.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.