Prince Bernadotte

Prince Bernadotte was a title granted to men who were formerly titled as princes of Sweden before losing their royal titles when they married unequally and against the Swedish constitution (enskild mans dotter [approximately "daughter of a common man"]). It was created in 1892 as a non-hereditary title in the nobility of Luxembourg and conferred upon Oscar Bernadotte by Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. A title with the same name was subsequently created in 1937 as a non-hereditary title in the nobility of Belgium and conferred upon Carl Bernadotte by King Leopold III of Belgium. The wives of these princes of Luxembourgish and Belgian nobility were then granted the title of Princess Bernadotte. The title was also used in the early 19th century with reference to Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, the subsequent founder of the Swedish royal House of Bernadotte.


Carl Bernadotte was born as Prince of Sweden and Duke of Östergötland, but he gave up those titles when he married below his station in 1937. King Leopold III of Belgium was the widower of Carl's sister, Astrid of Sweden, and he conferred the title of Prince Bernadotte upon his brother-in-law on the day of Carl's first marriage. It had its own coat of arms[1] and was a noble title, that is a prince as a high rank of Belgian nobility, not a royal title.[2]

In Sweden, Carl's princely Bernadotte family was considered a part of the unintroduced nobility and joined a private club called Ointroducerad Adels Förening ("The Association of the Unintroduced Nobility"). Prince Carl Bernadotte's title is now extinct, as it was personal to him and his wives. His heirs were designated to be Counts or Countesses Bernadotte. Carl had only one child, Countess Madeleine Bernadotte.[2]


Oscar Bernadotte renounced his titles as Prince of Sweden and Duke of Gotland when he married below his station in 1888. However, he was allowed by his father, King Oscar II, to keep the courtesy title of Prince and then be styled as Prince Bernadotte.[3] His and his wife's titles of nobility became official[4] when he was created Prince Bernadotte and Count of Wisborg in 1892 by his maternal uncle, Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg.[5][6]

Oscar's grandnephews, Sigvard, Carl Johan and Lennart (who all had been denied use of their Swedish titles after marrying below their station), were also created Counts of Wisborg in Luxembourg in 1951.[5] In those government documents, they (like Oscar) were also styled as Prince Bernadotte,[7] with their own specific arms for that title,[8] a title which for them however remained largely out of use, unlisted in Swedish government publications and genealogical handbooks,[9][5][10][11] but is used intermittently in other media and publicity.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] One of their widows, Marianne Bernadotte, survives as of 2019. Her late husband announced to Swedish media in 1983 that his title was Prince Sigvard Bernadotte. However, that was never approved or recognized by his nephew, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden,[22] for which that king has been criticized.[23] According to all six books of memoires by Sigvard,[24] Carl Johan[25] and Lennart Bernadotte, [26] two of their wives[27] and a more recent summary of these matters[28] Crown Prince (later King) Gustaf Adolf of Sweden from the 1930s on had played an integral and abiding part in the removal and denial of their Swedish titles and privileges.  

Napoleonic title

King Charles XIV John of Sweden (also King Charles III John of Norway), who had been born in France as Jean Bernadotte, was also often called Prince Bernadotte after the promotions he received from Napoleon I and before he was elected as Crown Prince of Sweden. Some Swedish experts have asserted that all of his male heirs have had the right to use that title, since the Swedish government never made all of the payments promised to Charles John to get him to give up his position in the Principality of Pontecorvo.[29]

References and notes

  1. Sveriges ointroducerade adels kalender 1941, [Elfte årgången], Tage von Gerber, Sveriges ointroducerade adels förening, Malmö 1940
  2. von Rothstein, Niclas, ed. (2015). Kalender över Ointroducerad adels förening (in Swedish) (23rd ed.). Ointroducerad Adels Förening. p. 21. ISBN 9789163766510.
  3. Sveriges statskalender (in Swedish). 1905. p. 2.
  4. Roger Lundgren in Sibylla en biografi Bonniers Stockholm ISBN 9789100111120 p. 62, specifically naming both the noble titles as created then
  5. von Rothstein, Niclas, ed. (2009). Kalender över Ointroducerad adels förening (in Swedish) (22nd ed.). Ointroducerad Adels Förening. p. 22. ISBN 9789163350382.
  6. Documentation by Government of Luxembourg 1892-04-02
  7. Mémorial du Grand Duché de Luxembourg 1951-08-13 p 1135
  8. Decree by Government of Luxembourg 1951-07-02 (copy published here)
  9. Sveriges statskalender. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 1955. p. 52. ISSN 0347-7223.
  10. Hovkalender (in Swedish). Riksmarskalksämbetet. 2001. p. 5. ISSN 0281-1456.
  11. von Hueck, Walter, ed. (1951). Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels. Limburg. p. 166. ISSN 0435-2408.
  12. Listing at IMDB
  13. Article by Georg Jensen (2017)
  14. Introduction online of The Bernadotte Foundation for Children's Eyecare (2017)
  15. Article online by the International Orthoptic Association (2017)
  16. Article by Norma Libman in Chicago Tribune 1992-01-12
  17. Article in Dagens Industri 2000-09-28
  18. Article by Elin Lindström Claessen för the Sahlgrenska Academy 2006-06-19
  19. Article in Berlingske 2007-11-04
  20. Chapter by Nancy Lelewer Sonnabend in Aging Wisely ... Wisdom of our Fathers ISBN 9781284141733 p. 18
  21. Website of friendship society
  22. Marianne Bernadotte in Glimtar och scener (memoires) ISBN 91-1-863442-7 pp. 179 & 184-185
  23. Article Archived 2017-08-10 at the Wayback Machine by Scott Ritcher in The Local 2009-12-23
  24. Sigvard Bernadotte's memoires (in Swedish)
  25. Carl Johan Bernadotte's memoires (in Swedish)
  26. Lennart Bernadotte's first book & second book (both in Swedish)
  27. Marianne Bernadotte's memoires (in Swedish) & Kerstin Bernadotte's (in Swedish)
  28. Summary 2017 (in English) by J. T. Demitz with documents by Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg (p. 7), Grand Duchess Charlotte (p. 17-19) & Professor Gunnar Bramstång (p. 21 in the Swedish version)
  29. Bramstång, Gunnar (1990). Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet (in Swedish). p. 30. sv:Gunnar Bramstång
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