Queen Louise of Sweden: Sweden’s Democratic Queen
|Queen Louise of Sweden. Image: Wikimedia Commons|
Queen Louise of Sweden was born on July 13, 1889,the second daughter and child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt . Her older sister, Alice, married Prince Andrew of Greece, whose only son, Philip, married the future Queen Elizabeth II. Her younger siblings included Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
In 1917, at the height of World War I and anti-German sentiments, King George V, her mother's cousin, renounced for himself, his family and his relatives their German titles and anglicized their names. The Battenbergs, thus, became Mountbatten and Prince Louis was created Marquess of Milford Haven.
During World War I, Louise actively served with the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association and the Smokes for Soldiers and Sailors. She later joined Red Cross, working as a nurse in France. Her work was later commended with the The British War- and Victory Medals, a medal from the British Red Cross and the well as the Médaille de la Reconnaissance française.
Louise' beauty and charm attracted several royal suitors, but it was to a commoner, Alexander Stuart-Hill, a Scottish artist living in Paris, whom she first fell in love with. They initially kept their relationship a secret for fear her parents would go against it but, in fact, her family took a like to Stuart-Hill, who found him "eccentric" and "affected". However, Louise decided that a marriage with him was impossible.
In 1923, Louise met her future husband, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, in London. The crown prince was a widower. Her wife and Louise’s cousin, Princess Margaret of Connaught, died in 1920. Crown Prince Adolf immediately started courting her the moment he placed her eyes upon her. As a young woman, Louise was adamant that she would never marry a king or a widower, but she relented. The couple's impending marriage initially triggered public discussion regarding Lady Louise' position. The British government, eventually confirmed with the British Government that the Crown Prince's choice of a future wife was in compliance with the succession law, thereby concluding debate on the imminent nuptials. The "Treaty between Great Britain and Sweden for the Marriage of Lady Louise Mountbatten with His Royal Highness Prince Gustaf Adolf, Crown Prince of Sweden" was signed shortly before their marriage.
Their marriage took place on November 3, 1923, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace before King George V and members of both royal families. Their marriage was London’s biggest social event that year.
While the couple did not have a child of their own, Louise raised Adolf’s children as if they were her own.
At the outbreak of World War II, Louise leaped to service once again, joining Red Cross and organizing a relief brigade that sourced candles and other non-electric light sources for the needy during the campaign. Since Sweden was a neutral country, she used that as an opportunity to act as a messenger to her relatives and friends across warfaring borders.
In 1950, Louise became queen after accession to the throne of her husband. She immediately reformed the court, relaxing the somewhat stiff customs observed by her mother-in-law. In 1962, she abolished the court presentations, replaced them, instead, with "democratic ladies' lunches", where career women were invited. She also renovated and redecorated the interior of the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
Louise’s good heart, a great sense of humour, ang sense of self irony made her popular among her subjects. She ably distinguished herself from her royal role. Louise’s sympathy was taken as a form of her honesty.
Queen Louise died on March 7, 1965 at Saint Göran Hospital, in Stockholm, Sweden, after six hours of emergency surgery following a period of ill health. She was buried beside husband at the Royal Cemetery in Solna north of Stockholm.