|Birth||October 5, 1881|
|Death||April 2, 1979|
Florence Elisabet Stephens (5 October 1881 – 2 April 1979) was a Swedish landowner, whose main estate was at Huseby. She was known as Fröken på Huseby ("the Huseby Lady") and was the main figure in the Huseby Affair, one of the most prominent court cases in Sweden during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Born at Skatelöv, in Kronoberg County, Florence Stephens was the eldest daughter and heir of the landowner and politician Joseph Stephens (1841—1934) by his marriage to Elisabeth Kreuger; her paternal grandfather, George Stephens (1813—1895), was an English academic, originally from Liverpool in Great Britain.
There has been speculation that Florence Stephens was the natural daughter of King Oscar II, and after her death her correspondence with him was donated to the Swedish royal archives, where it was marked to remain confidential until 2035.
As a child, Florence and her younger sisters Mary (1882-1953) and Maggie (1883-1958) were given a conventional education considered suitable for a female member of the upper class with no purpose in life other than to marry a member of the aristocracy and be e good society hostess; they were tutored at home by a governess and given good knowledge in languages and literature, but received not formal education. Florence, however, never married.
When she inherited the estate of her father in 1934, she had no knowledge of estate management, and became totally dependent upon advisers in how to manage her estate and economy. Reportedly, she showed a lack of judgement in whom she appointed, and gave responsibility to the wrong people for the wrong reasons, often celebrities whom she liked but who did not have the necessary expertise. As a royalist, she made Prince Carl Bernadotte her financial adviser and heir. As a result, the Huseby estates were severely misused and drained of assets through abuse of the land, forests and bad affairs. In parallel, Florence Stephens was a celebrated society hostess, and often entertained royalty such as Gustav V of Sweden in her home.
In 1956, the municipal council applied for the by then elderly Florence Stephens to be made a ward of court, to prevent any further misuse of her property. In 1957, she was persuaded to give up her legal majority and to agree to her affairs being controlled by a guardian. This resulted in public prosecutions of her former advisers, which caused the so-called "Husebyskandalen" ('Huseby Scandal'). The process was dragged out until 1962. Her former adviser Berl Gutenberg was sentenced to prison. Stephens used the press to gain sympathy from the Swedish public, because of the humiliating treatment she was given by her guardian, Olof Malmqvist. At the same time, the media coverage of her previous luxury life and "escorts" was considered scandalous.
In 1975 Stephens was declared of legal majority again, but was not given back the control of her estate. Florence Stephens died in 1979, aged 97, and in her last will she donated Huseby to the Swedish state.