Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Life of Anna Sparre

In 1985, Anna Sparre, a Swedish noblewoman, published her memoirs of her friendship with Queen Astrid of the Belgians, a Swedish princess.  Her book has been reviewed and discussed on this blog in the past.  Under Anna's pen, Astrid's personality comes to life; tender, sensitive and loving, although not without her strict side, a loyal and devoted wife, mother and Queen.

Anna Eva Elisabeth Sparre, née Adelswärd, was born in Stockholm on February 2, 1906.  She was the daughter of Baron Theodor Adelswärd, an industrialist and politician, and his wife, historical novelist Louise Douglas.  During her youth, Anna divided her time between Stockholm and her family's country estate of Adelsnäs.  Meanwhile, her father served as a member of the Swedish parliament and government.

In 1927, a year after Astrid's marriage to Prince Leopold of Belgium, Anna married the handsome, charming Count Clas Sparre, an engineer and aviator,  and the scion of an aristocratic family dating from the Middle Ages.  Clas' father was the Swedish painter Louis Sparre.  His mother was Eva Mannerheim, a sister of the famous Marshal of Finland.  Clas and Anna had a daughter, Christina, who became a playmate of Princess Josephine-Charlotte, the eldest child of Leopold and Astrid. Sadly, Anna's marriage ended in divorce.

During World War II, Sweden managed to remain neutral, but was dangerously isolated, trapped between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.  In response, the Swedish army was kept in constant readiness and a regime of rationing imposed on the population.  Anna contributed to the patriotic effort by joining the women's auxiliary forces and becoming a chief of propaganda.  After the war, she remarried, moving to Denmark with her new husband, a Danish dentist.  Unfortunately, her second marriage also failed.

A bold, free spirit, Anna forged a new, independent life, transforming her manor into a golfing resort. In her later years, partly disabled by an accident, the Countess took up writing in earnest, publishing a long series of novels.  She drew inspiration from the lives of Nordic queens and noblewomen of the past, struggling with tragedy but triumphing over misfortune.  Throughout her life, Anna remained close to Astrid's son, King Baudouin of the Belgians.  Only five months after his death, Anna passed away on December 21, 1993.

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