Wallis Simpson, who? Princess Lilian of Sweden, who died yesterday at the age of 97, was the commoner divorcée at the center of a scandalous royal romance. It began in the 1940s and lasted until she married her lover, Prince Bertil of Sweden, 30 years later. Born Lillian May Davies in South Wales, the princess died a beloved figure of Sweden's royal family. Her life was filled with intriguing details, like these:
- When she met Prince Bertil of Sweden, Lilian, who dropped the double-l in her birth name when she became a model, was married to the Scottish actor Ivan Craig. Although they were separated before she took up with the prince, Ivan and Lilian did not divorce until two years after she met Prince Bertil.
- The legend of how Lilian met her prince in 1943 is still mysterious. Versions include that they met at a nightclub, at her 28th birthday party, or in the London Underground.
- Lilian had to wait 30 years to marry the prince. After Prince Bertil's two brothers married commoners and the eldest brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash, Prince Bertil was the most prominent royal after his father, King Gustaf VI Adolf. The king asked Prince Bertil not to marry Lilian until after his death.
- In 1957, Lilian came to Sweden to live with Prince Bertil, although they could not marry. As the prince's mistress, Lilian was like a celebrity, and they were often spotted at their villa in the south of France.
- After Prince Bertil's father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, died and his nephew the current King Carl XVI Gustaf ascended to the throne, Prince Bertil was allowed to marry Lilian in 1976. After waiting three decades for it, they honeymooned in Kenya and France.
- Prince Bertil died in January 1997, at the age of 84. Three years later she published a memoir about her life with him. Although she was eventually inflicted with Alzheimer's, she outlived her husband for 16 years and often kept up royal engagements.