Royals that nobody knows: This Swedish princess could have become empress in Iran

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It would have been an extraordinary connection: Princess Birgitta, sister of King Carl Gustaf and sister-in-law of Queen Silvia, had once won the heart of the last Shah of Persia. Sweden and Iran almost came closer than ever before.

Princess Birgitta, 85, when she was in her early 20s, could have fundamentally changed her entire life with one decision. Because at the end of the 1950s, none other than Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, † 60, who is considered the last Iranian shah in the course of the Iranian revolution and the abolition of the monarchy in 1979, expressed serious interest in King Carl Gustaf's, 76, sister ...

Royals that nobody knows: Princess Birgitta - the almost empress of Iran

At the end of the 1950s, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose family fled into exile in America and France after the revolution, had already been married twice. He had also taken a liking to British Princess Alexandra, 85, and Gabriella of Savoy. The Norwegian court expert Trond Norén Isaksen reported to the Norwegian newspaper "Se og Hør". But then Queen Silvias, 78, later sister-in-law Princess Birgitta caught his eye.

In 1959, Mohammad Reza formally proposed to Birgitta. That came as a surprise to everyone. However, the request was rejected by her grandfather, King Gustaf VI. Adolf, † 90, and also rejected by herself.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (4.v.l.) und Prinzessin Birgitta (li.) 1960 beim Besuch des Schah in Stockholm.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (fourth from left) and Princess Birgitta (left) in 1960 during the Shah's visit to Stockholm. © Dana Press

In her memoirs "Min egen väg: En Memoarbok" (Eng. My own way – a book of memoirs), Birgitta wrote about the rejection in 1997: Her grandfather had rejected the Shah on the grounds that the religions were too different. She wasn't personally interested either: "He was certainly an attractive man in every respect, but absolutely not my type. He wasn't the man who made my heart beat faster." Finally, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi found a new wife in Farah Diba, 83, whom he married in 1959.

Until his death, Birgitta was married to Johann Georg Prince of Hohenzollern, but not in love

Two years later, in 1961, Princess Birgitta, 85, also married someone else: the German nobleman Johann Georg Prince of Hohenzollern, †83. She was 24 years old then. On May 25, 1961, they said "yes" to each other in a civil ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, and five days later in church in Sigmaringen. Although they separated in 1990, they remained married and good friends until Johann Georg's death on March 2, 2016.

Prinzessin Birgitta (re.) mit ihrem Ehemann Johann Georg Prinz von Hohenzollern (li.), den Kindern Prinz Carl Christian, Prinzessin Desirée und Prinz Hubertus sowie ihrer Mutter Prinzessin Sibylla, circa 1971.
Princess Birgitta (right) with her husband Johann Georg Prince von Hohenzollern (left), the children Prince Carl Christian, Princess Desirée and Prince Hubertus and her mother Princess Sibylla, circa 1971. © Dana Press

The former couple has three children: Prince Carl Christian, 60, Princess Desirée, 56, and Prince Hubertus, 56. Birgitta turned her back on her homeland after the wedding and moved to Munich. The Royal lived there for 40 years until she moved to Mallorca. Her children regularly visit the 85-year-old on the Balearic island.

Prinzessin Birgitta mit Königin Silvia bei der Beerdigung ihres Ehemannes 2016.
Princess Birgitta with Queen Silvia at her husband's funeral in 2016. © Dana Press

Two years ago, the princess struggled with health problems, as she revealed in September 2022 in an interview with the Swedish newspaper "Svensk Damtidning". Carl Gustaf's second eldest sister had to undergo heart surgery. "They had to restart the heart," reveals Birgitta. Although she has recovered from the operation, she hardly leaves the house due to the Spanish heat. Nothing is known about a new man who found his way into her heart after the breakup.

Sources used: Dana Press,,

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