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Despite the royal reluctance to recognize her officially, Lilian’s charm and warm personality soon won the Swedes over, and magazines depicted the happy couple playing golf and riding around on the prince’s motorbike. When Bertil had to use a walker after an operation, she cheerfully nicknamed it his “Bugatti.”

In 1976, some 33 years after they first met, the new king finally gave them the approval they had been waiting for.

On a cold December day the same year, Lilian, or “Lily,” as the prince called her, became princess of Sweden and duchess of the southern province of Halland in a ceremony at the Drottningholm Palace Chapel just outside Stockholm. The bride by then had turned 61, and the groom was 64.

The couple never had any children.

Bertil died in the couple’s residence Villa Solbacken in Stockholm in 1997 after unspecified lung problems.

Lilian took over some of her husband’s duties, especially as an award presenter for various sports associations.

Health problems forced her to cut back on some of her royal duties. In 2006 she stopped attending the annual Nobel Prize banquet, and the next year she also stopped taking part in the awards ceremony.

In 2010, the palace said Lilian suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, preventing her from attending the wedding that summer of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling.