Princess Lilian Nobel Retrospective

Note: The 2020 fallout has hit the Nobel events. The grand ceremony at the Peace Prize (held in Norway) has been cancelled. There is no word on any royal family involvement in any of the proceedings this year, but we will keep you updated. In light of that news, let’s look back to happier times.

Handbaggers asked for this retrospective about a year and a half ago, so patience is rewarded if you remain a reader of this blog! Many who follow royals are aware of Princess Lilian’s fascinating story, but for those who are not familiar, the Sveriges Kungahus site has a lovely, quick background page on her.

During her marriage to Prince Bertil, she was a Swedish princess and Duchess of Halland. She attended the Nobel ceremonies regularly for many years, beginning with her marriage in 1976 and continuing until 2006. Her position was unusal, and she carved out a unique sartorial presence. A walk through her dresses for this event gives you an overview of this elegant’s woman’s evening style. Her daytime style is a subject for another post, but rest assured, it was equally soigne.

Happily wedded, 1976


Lilian knew what worked for her, and for Nobel appearances she stuck with structured gowns, usually with full skirts and sleeves. Her silver hair shows up well against this pale blue, doesn’t it? The 1985 shoulders balance out the ball gown skirt, although no one could beat the Queen that year for biggest sleeves! The Buttons, as usual, work well in the fluffy hairstyle.

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Over a decade on, it’s Lilian in yellow, with the world’s best hem ever. I love this dress, and we get another stellar outing of the Button tiara.

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Lilian pivoted to sleek teal a few years later, a lovely, complementary color to Sils and Maddie.

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Back to yellow, back to puffy sleeves! The pale blue sash works well here, and we get a good view of the “Lilian” tiara. Once again, the complementary gown colors are on view here. One of the nicest things about going through these photos is seeing how exceptionally close Lilian was to Silvia and her children.

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This vibrant coral gown ties to Victoria’s dress exceptionally well. A deep hued year!

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The palest green with the shoulder cape? Yes, please. I’ve dated this 2005, but the photos below are labeled both 2005 and 2006 at Getty, so pick your year! Carl Philip is charming here.

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At her last Nobel appearance, Lilian wore deep pink and proved she could still wear the jewels incredibly well, donning Queen Josefina’s Stomacher necklace, framed by a popped collar. Well played, madame. Well played throughout the years.

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Pick your favorite Lilian gown!