Today marks the 35th Anniversary of the Death of Countess Kerstin Bernadotte, who passed away on this day in 1987! The accomplished Swedish Aristocrat who morganatically married Prince Carl Johan of Sweden, who was forced to renounce his titles, Countess Kerstin possessed a few royal heirlooms, the most important of which was this antique Diamond Necklace Tiara!
But first, lets learn about Countess Kerstin! The daughter of the theologian Henning Wijkmark and Elin Wijkmark, Kerstin Wijmark was born in Stockholm and worked as a journalist, becoming the editor of the Swedish weekly magazine Veckorevyn. In 1935, she married Axel Erik Johnsson, with the couple divorcing the following year, but her status as a divorced commoner prevented her marriage to Prince Carl Johan of Sweden, youngest son of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and Princess Margaret of Connaught, with a smear campaign against her in Sweden, that made the couple emigrate to the United States, where they eventually married in New York in 1946. Three days later, Prince Carl Johan renounced his titles and his claim to the Swedish Throne. In 1951, the couple adopted two children, Count Christian and Countess Monica, and were given the titles of Count and Countess of Wisborg by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. The family returned to Sweden and lived in Båstad, and reconciled with the Royal Family, with Countess Kerstin serving as editor of Bildjournalen, and publishing three books, her memoir Ett så’nt liv (1975), and etiquette book Moderna manér (1982), and also A day with the King (1967), about her father-in-law King Gustaf VI Adolf. She became the aunt of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. The Countess passed away in 1987, with Prince Carl Johan remarrying the following year to Countess Gunnila Bernadotte, before his death in 2012.
When Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden tragically passed away in 1920, she left the Khedive of Egypt Tiara to her only daughter, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, while the elder brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf, inherited the Connaught Diamond Tiara and Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara, Prince Sigvard received the King Edward VII Ruby Tiara, while Prince Bertil inherited the Laurel Wreath Tiara. As the youngest son, Prince Carl Johan likely inherited this small antique Diamond Necklace of unknown provenance, alongside a few small Brooches and Badges. The necklace was first worn for Prince Carl Johan’s wedding to Kerstin Wijkmark in New York in 1946.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Countess Kerstin often wore the Diamond Necklace for a variety of society events in Sweden and abroad, sometimes with a Brooch from Crown Princess Margareta suspended as a Pendant.
As Countess Kerstin did not possess a Tiara like her sisters-in-law, she converted the Diamond Necklace into a Tiara for the Wedding of her niece, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, in 1967, the Wedding of her niece, Princess Christina of Sweden, in 1974, as well as for the King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Wedding Gala in 1976.
Countess Kerstin continued to wear the Diamond necklace up into the 1980s, most notably for King Gustaf VI Adolf’s 90th Birthday Banquet in 1972. The current location of the Diamond Necklace Tiara is unknown, as Countess Gunnila Bernadotte had her own Tiara, so this might have been unknown or could have been inherited by the couple’s adopted children, but has not yet been publicly worn.