Lady Louise Mountbatten

Louise Mountbatten

Louise Alexandra Marie Irene (13 July, 18897 March 1965), Queen of Sweden (1950-1965), was the second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.

Biography

Louise was born "Her Serene Highness Princess Louise of Battenberg" at Heiligenberg Palace in the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Her father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was Admiral of the Fleet in the UK, renounced all his German titles in 1917, during World War I, and furthermore anglicized his family name ("Battenberg") to "Mountbatten". He was then created the first Marquess of Milford Haven in the peerage of the United Kingdom. His daughter then came to be known as "The Lady Louise Mountbatten". Louise was a sister of Lord Mountbatten, an aunt of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and was also a niece of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia.

Louise once stated that she would never marry a widower or a king: in 1909, the 20-year-old Louise received a marriage proposal from King Manuel II of Portugal. Her great uncle, King Edward VII wanted her to accept but she declined the marriage offer. Edward asked her parents Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine to make her change her mind but Louise said she would never marry a king or a widower (despite the fact that she liked Manuel).

However Louise later did both: on 3 November 1923, at age 34, Louise married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden; later King Gustaf VI Adolf. The marriage was very happy, but tragically their only child, a daughter, was stillborn (30 May 1925). Louise loved children and enjoyed spending time with her step-children (Gustav's children from his first marriage to Princess Margaret: Gustav Adolf, Sigvard, Ingrid, Bertil and Carl Johan) being very lively and playful herself. During the Finnish Winter War, as several Finnish children were sent to Sweden, she arranged for a children's home on the grounds of Ulriksdal Palace (the King and Queen's spring residence), where she'd often turn up herself, participating in the children's daily games. After the war, she kept up the contact with the Finnish "Ulriksdal-children" and visited them later on in Helsinki when they'd grown up. During World War I Louise had also served as a nurse at the front in France for two years (1915-1917), at the Hospital Anglais in Nevers by the river Loire. For this she received the Royal Red Cross.

Queen Louise was quite an eccentric and had several pomeranian dogs which she would hide about her person when visiting abroad which caused problems when travelling through customs (which she usually did under the pseudonym "Countess of Gripsholm" or "Mrs Olsson"). She was also a very nervous lady. When in London, she would jay walk and generally cross roads unsafely. One day, she was almost hit by a bus and so took to carrying a small card with the words, "I am the Queen of Sweden" printed on it. When her brother, Louis Mountbatten, asked her why she did this, she said, "Well, if I was to get knocked down in the street, nobody would know who I was. If they looked in my handbag, they'd find out". It didn't help that her brother pointed out that she'd probably be taken for just another loony. A similar story is also told that Louise had a footman follow her with a cardboard sign reading, "The Queen of Sweden" so that people would know who she was but there is no confirmation of that.

Queen Louise was much liked among the Swedes and appreciated for her humour and down-to-earth approach (as was the King). The King and Queen were frequently seen walking together in Stockholm, completely alone by themselves; without what we today call "bodyguards" (not even any people from the court). At a first glance they'd look just like any other old Stockholm-couple, the King politely lifting his hat to people they met like every other gentleman. Queen Louise enjoyed shopping in Stockholm's popular Old Town district and would "sneak out", as she put it, from the palace weekly: Stockholmers got pretty much used to the possibility that one, in some crowded shop, might turn around and suddenly find oneself right next to the Queen, leaning over some pile of textile fabric, closely scrutinizing a table cloth, oblivious to the world around her; the next day one would open the newspaper and see her all dressed up gala-style with a tiara from yesterday evening's official dinner with some prominent foreign guest.

Queen Louise died on March 7 1965 at S:t Göran Hospital, following an emergency surgery after a period of severe illness. She had made her last public appearance at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in December 1964. She is buried alongside her husband in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga, just outside central Stockholm.

Ancestry

Queen Louise was the second of the four children of Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, by his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and an elder sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. Interestingly, both Queen Louise and her step-children were great grandchildren of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

Queen Louise's siblings were:

Queen Louise's correct styles and titles through life were:

  • Her Serene Highness Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1917)
  • Miss Louise Mountbatten (1917)
  • The Lady Louise Mountbatten (1917-1923)
  • Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Sweden (1923-1950)
  • Her Majesty The Queen of Sweden (1950-1965)

Books

  • Fjellman, Margit: Drottning Louise - En biografi (Queen Louise - A Biography), Bonniers, 1965; 232 pages (Sweden)
  • Fridh, Kjell: Gamle kungen Gustaf VI Adolf. En biografi (Old King Gustaf VI Adolf. A Biography). Wahlström & Widstrand (W&W), Stockholm, 1995; 368 pages (Sweden)
  • Severin, Kid: Vår Drottning (Our Queen), Åhlén & Åkerlunds Förlags AB Stockholm, 1963; 64 pages (Sweden)
  • Ulfsäter-Troell, Agnetha: Drottningar är också människor: Sex kvinnoöden på Stockholms slott, Förlaget Ulfsäter, 1996, 479 pages (kap. Drottning Louise / Chapt. Queen Louise). Also TV-programme: Drottning av Sverige (Queen of Sweden), history programme about the six Bernadotte Queen Consorts, from Queen Desirée to Queen Louise (adapted from the book), produced by Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell and Marianne Söderberg for Swedish Television SVT, 1996-97 (Sweden)

Photographs

See also

External links

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