On This Day In History: The Death of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte of Wisborg

Prince Carl Johan of Sweden, Duke of Dalarna
Photograph (c) Swedish Royal Family

Prince Carl Johan Arthur of Sweden was born on 31 October 1916 at Stockholm Palace. The prince was the fourth son and fifth (and youngest) child of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf (1882-1973; later King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden) and his wife Crown Princess Margaret (1882-1920; née Princess Margaret of Connaught). Carl Johan joined four elder siblings: Prince Gustaf Adolf (1906-1947), Prince Sigvard (1907-2002; later Count of Wisborg), Princess Ingrid (1910-2000; later Queen Consort of Denmark), and Prince Bertil (1912-1997).

Crown Princess Margaret with her daughter Ingrid and son Carl Johan

 

Prince Carl Johan of Sweden, Duke of Dalarna

Carl Johan attended the Lundsberg School. Thereafter, he carried out his military training in the Swedish forces. The prince also pursued legal studies, and hoped to begin a career with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Carl Johan Bernadotte and his first wife Kerstin Wijkmark

 

Count Sigvard, Queen Ingrid, Count Carl Johan and Prince Bertil in 1953
Photograph (c) Swedish Royal Family

 

The Swedish prince lost his dynastic rights and royal title when he married journalist Elin Kerstin Margaretha Wijkmark (1910-1987) at New York City on 19 February 1946. Carl Johan and Kerstin did not have biological children; however, they adopted a daughter and a son early in their marriage: Monica (b.1948; adopted in 1951) and Christian (b.1949; adopted in 1950). The Bernadotte couple lived for some time in New York City, where Carl Johan worked as the representative of the Anglo-Nordic Trading Company. In 1951, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg granted Carl Johan and his legitimate descendants the title of Count(ess) of Wisborg; in addition, Carl Johan was given the personal title of Prince Bernadotte. 
 
Carl Johan and Kerstin Bernadotte

 

Carl Johan became a widower when his wife Kerstin passed away on 11 September 1987. Both of their adopted children married and have issue. Monica wed Count Johan Peder Bonde af Björnö (b.1950) in 1976; the couple divorced in 1997 after having three children. Christian married Marianne Jenny (b.1958) in 1980; the couple also have three children. 
 
Carl Johan and Gunnila on their wedding day

On 29 September 1988 at Copenhagen, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte remarried Swedish aristocrat Gunnila Wachtmeister af Johannishus (1923-2016). Gunnila was the widow of Carl-Herman Bussler (1918-1981), who she had married in 1942 and with whom she had four children. Carl Johan and Gunnila were popular members of the extended Swedish royal family. The couple attended the wedding of Carl Johan’s great-grandnephew Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark to Mary Donaldson in 2004. 

 
Count Carl Johan and Countess Gunnila at the Danish crown princely wedding in 2004

 

Countess Gunnila Bernadotte at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden in 2013
 

Aged eighty-five, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte died on 5 May 2012 in the Ängelholm Hospital in Ängelholm, Sweden. The count was the last surviving great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819-1901). Carl Johan was the paternal uncle of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and maternal uncle of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes. His wife Gunnilla followed him on 12 September 2016, when she died at Båstad, Sweden, at the age of ninety-three.

 
Footage from the funeral of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte: 
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