Lennart Bernadotte

Count of Wisborg
Bernadotte on his new yacht Stella Polaris at Gripsholm with grandson Friedrich Lennart Straehl, August, 1965
Born (1909-05-08)8 May 1909
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Died 21 December 2004(2004-12-21) (aged 95)
Schloss Mainau, Mainau, Lake Constance, Germany
Karin Nissvandt
(m. 1932; div. 1971)

Sonja Haunz
(m. 1972)
Issue Countess Birgitta
Countess Marie-Louise
Count Jan
Countess Cecilia
Countess Bettina
Count Björn
Countess Catharina
Count Christian
Countess Diana
Full name
Gustaf Lennart Nicolaus Paul
House Bernadotte
Father Prince Vilhelm, Duke of Södermanland
Mother Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia

Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (born Prince Lennart, Duke of Småland; 8 May 1909 – 21 December 2004) was a Swedish-German landscaper, filmmaker and photographer. He was a grandson of King Gustaf V of Sweden.

Bernadotte was born at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Gustaf V's second son) and Wilhelms's wife, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (he was her first husband). At birth Bernadotte was a Swedish prince and was titled Duke of Småland. In 1932, he married Karin Nissvandt, a morganatic marriage, and thereafter ceased to be referred to by his royal titles. Thus, he became the first Swede in history to have his royal titles removed due to his own actions and was called Mr. Bernadotte as a result. Nineteen years after he lost his Swedish royal titles, he was given titles of nobility in Luxembourg.

He published two memoirs: Käre prins, godnatt (1977) and Mainau min medelpunkt (1995).


Under the Swedish Act of Succession, a prince or princess marrying without the consent of the monarch and government forfeits the right of succession for themselves and their descendants. In a new policy adopted in the case of Lennart Bernadotte, they were also forbidden to use their titles[1] and told to use the surname of Bernadotte. By his marriage on 11 March 1932 Prince Lennart consequently, as far as Swedish records were concerned, was to be called Mr. Lennart Bernadotte.

He considered himself for several decades subjected to very cruel treatment from the Royal Court of Sweden due to his first marriage, and his wife developed a worsening psychosis from it which eventually led to their divorce in 1971.[2]

Beginning in 1892, Swedish princes who lost their succession rights received noble titles conferred by other reigning monarchs. On 2 July 1951, for himself, his wife and his marital descendants, Bernadotte was admitted by Grand Duchess Charlotte (head of state at the time) into the nobility of Luxembourg as Count of Wisborg[3] and in that conferral was also called Gustaf Lennart Nicolas Paul Prince Bernadotte.[4] Counts of Wisborg are considered to be part of the Swedish unintroduced nobility.[3]

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who lost the right to confer Swedish noble titles in the new constitution of 1974, still retains the prerogative to restore royal titles, but has chosen not to do so.


In 1944 Bernadotte portrayed the young Crown Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway in the historical film Prince Gustaf, Bernadotte's only screen acting role. He served as head of the Sveriges Scoutförbund (Scouting Association of Sweden) from 1948 to 1951[5][6][7]

Lennart Bernadotte concentrated his energy on his estate on the island of Mainau in Lake Constance, Germany, where he died, and on his charitable fund, the Lennart Bernadotte Stiftung. He was considered a major gardening and landscaping talent and expert and turned his island into a popular tourist attraction.

He received the Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor from the German Eduard Rhein Foundation in 1996.[8][9]


In London on 11 March 1932 Bernadotte married firstly Karin Nissvandt (7 July 1911 – 9 October 1991). They had four children before divorcing in December 1971:

  • Birgitta Anne (born 3 May 1933), married 11 June 1955 Friedrich Otto Straehl. They have two children:
    • Karin Elisabeth Straehl (born 21 February 1958)
    • Nikolas Marcus Simon Straehl (born 5 November 1959)
  • Maria-Lovisa Birgitta (6 November 1935 – 24 May 1988), married 11 September 1956 Rudolf Adolf Kautz. They have one child:
    • Friedrich Jan Lennart Kautz (born on 4 September 1962)
  • Carl Johan Gustaf Vilhelm (nicknamed Jan; born 9 January 1941), married seven times:
    1. Firstly in Toro, Sweden on 3 May 1965 Gunilla Stampe (3 September 1941 – 22 May 2010); they divorced in 1967.
    2. Secondly in Mainau on 26 June 1967 Anna Birgitta Skarne (born 1 April 1944); they divorced in 1970. One daughter: Sophia Magdalena Maria Birgitta (born 3 May 1968).
    3. Thirdly in Konstanz 23 June 1972 Annegret Thomssen (born 15 November 1938); they divorced in 1974. One daughter: Cecilia Rosemarie (nicknamed Cia; born 30 September 1972).
    4. Fourthly in Diepolz on 6 September 1974 Maritta-Else Berg (7 December 1953 – 30 September 2001); they divorced in 1987. Two sons: Alexander Wilhelm (born 25 March 1977) and Stephan Albert (born 4 November 1980).
    5. Fifthly in London on March 1993 Gabrielle Kick née Hess (born 29 June 1949); they divorced in 2004.
    6. Sixthly in Forbach on 6 September 2004 Christiane Rose Grandmontagne (born 17 March 1944; she had a daughter with Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia); they divorced in 2006.
    7. Seventhly in Almunecar, Spain on 8 January 2012 Gunilla Irene Stenfors (born 8 April 1957).
  • Karin-Cecilie (born 9 April 1944), married 31 March 1967 Hans Jörg Baenkler; they divorced in 1974.

In Mainau on 29 April 1972 Bernadotte married secondly Sonja Anita Maria Haunz (7 May 1944 – 21 October 2008). They had five children:

  • Bettina (born 12 March 1974), married 29 October 2004 Philipp Haug. Two children. Their son Emil is a godson of Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.
  • Björn Wilhelm (born 13 June 1975), married 7 May 2009 Sandra Angerer.
  • Catherine (born 11 April 1977), married 7 July 2007 Romuald Ruffing.
  • Christian Wolfgang (born 24 May 1979), married 22 May 2010 Christine Stoltmann. One son: Maximilian Benedikt (born 10 August 2010).
  • Diana (born 18 April 1982), married 27 September 2003 Bernd Grawe; they separated in 2007. Married secondly 13 January 2017 Stefan Dedek.

Bernadotte died in 2004. His remains, and four years later those of his second wife, were interred in a crypt under the palace chapel on Mainau. His first wife's remains have been buried in his father's grave in Flen.



  1. Gunnar Bramstång in ''Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet ISBN 91-544-2081-4 p. 54-55
  2. Lennart Bernadotte in Mainau min medelpunkt ISBN 91-0-056122-3 pp. 77 & 338
  3. 1 2 3 von Rothstein, Niclas, ed. (2009). Kalender över Ointroducerad adels förening (in Swedish) (22nd ed.). Ointroducerad Adels Förening. p. 22. ISBN 9789163350382.
  4. Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg No 48, Government of Luxembourg, 13 August 1951, entry dated 18 July 1951
  5. http://scouthistoria.ssf.scout.se/scouthistoria/artal.htm
  6. http://scouthistoria.ssf.scout.se/amk/tidningsklippr/1951_bengt_junker.pdf
  7. Pojkscoutchefer - Scoutmuséets hemsida
  8. "The Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor Recipients". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  9. "1996 - Ring of Honor - Prof. Dr.h.c.mult. Lennart Graf Bernadotte af Wisborg". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
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