Before King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden married Queen Silvia, his youngest older sister, Princess Christina, stepped into the role and served as an unofficial ‘first lady’ for Sweden. So when Carl Gustaf met Silvia at the Olympics, Christina was the first to welcome her and showed her the ropes once she became Queen Silvia.
Princess Christina Louise Helena of Sweden was born on 3 August 1943 in Haga Palace in Solna, Sweden, as the fourth daughter of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten and Princess Sibylla. Her older sisters are Princesses Margaretha (b. 1934), Birgitta (b. 1937) and Désirée (b. 1938); together, they were nicknamed the “Haga princesses.” They were joined by a younger brother, Carl Gustaf, in 1946.
When she was just three years old, her father was killed in a plane crash outside Copenhagen, Denmark. She and her siblings were then raised by their widowed mother.
Christina’s education took place at the French School, where she graduated in 1963 before entering Radcliff College in Massachusetts alongside a friend. She later studied art history at Stockholm University ahead of working for the Foreign Ministry’s information bureau for over a year. Christina was the only one of her sisters who chose to further her education at university. She speaks her native Swedish in addition to English and French.
The Princess conducted royal duties from her early adult life, and her responsibilities increased after her mother’s death in 1972. She has worked with the Red Cross and other organisations that focus on dance, culture and art. She even wrote a book called “Days at Drottningholm” in 2016, where she shared her experiences growing up in the palace in Stockholm. The book has been published in English and Swedish. She has also authored a book on the grandmother she never knew, Crown Princess Margaret.
Christina met Tord Magnuson in 1961 at a lunch in Stockholm, and on 1 February 1974, their engagement was announced. At the time, the Swedish Constitution did not allow Swedish princesses to marry someone of unequal rank and keep their title. As such, her marriage wasn’t approved, and she lost the style of Her Royal Highness upon marriage. Her brother, Carl Gustaf, had become king by this time and bestowed the courtesy title of Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson, on his sister.
Christina and Tord were married in the Royal Chapel of Stockholm Palace on 15 June 1974 by Archbishop Olof Sundby. Together, they had three sons: Gustaf (b. 1975), Oscar (b. 1977) and Victor (b. 1980). They now have five grandchildren.
In 2010, Princess Christina revealed she had defeated breast cancer, and from then on, she began raising awareness for other cancer-related issues. In 2016, the Royal Court announced that she had been diagnosed with chronic leukaemia. After other treatments failed, Christina underwent a stem cell transplant in early 2017.
On her 75th birthday in 2018, Princess Christina announced that she was retiring from royal duties – after 45 years of service to the crown and country. She has since appeared at a handful of events alongside the Royal Family.