by Susan Flantzer
The wife of King Frederik VIII of Denmark, Princess Louise of Sweden (Lovisa Josefina Eugenia in Swedish) was born on October 31, 1851 at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden. She was the only surviving child of King Carl XV of Sweden and Princess Louise of the Netherlands. Louise had one younger brother, Prince Carl Oscar, who died when he was a year old. Because of complications during the birth of her brother, Louise’s mother was unable to have any more children. Although Sweden had reigning queens in the past, female succession had been banned in the Constitution of 1809, so Louise could not become Queen. Louise’s father was succeeded by his younger brother King Oscar II. Louise has an interesting royal ancestry. Besides being descended from the Kings of Sweden, Louise is also a descendant of Empress Josephine of France via her first marriage, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, King Willem I of the Netherlands, King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, and King George I of Great Britain.
Because she was an only child, Louise was cherished and adored by her parents. She resembled her mother in appearance and her father in her manner. Children’s balls were arranged for Louise at the Royal Palace and were eagerly attended by children of society parents and her cousins, the sons of her uncle, the future King Oscar II. Louise was educated by her governess Hilda Elfving and received swimming lessons from Nancy Edberg, a pioneer in women’s swimming. Louise’s mother took swimming lessons along with her daughter and as a result, swimming became more accepted for women.
The relations between Denmark and Sweden were tense because Sweden had not helped Denmark during the Second Schleswig War with Prussia and Austria. Further tension developed after Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (the future King Christian IX of Denmark) was chosen over Swedish candidates as the heir presumptive to the Danish throne due to a succession crisis. A marriage between Louise and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark was suggested as a means to improve the relations between the two countries. The couple had met for the first time 1862 when Louise was eleven and Frederik nineteen. Frederik was aware that Louise would be a popular choice in Denmark because a German bride would be unacceptable to the Danes after the Denmark loss in the Second Schleswig War. The couple became engaged on April 15, 1868. During her engagement, Louise studied the Danish language, literature, culture, and history with Lorentz Dietrichson, a poet and professor of art history and literature.
17-year-old Louise and 26-year-old Frederik were married at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden on July 28, 1869. Frederik and Louise had eight children:
- King Christian X of Denmark (1870 -1947), married Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin had issue including King Frederick IX of Denmark
- Prince Carl of Denmark, later King Haakon VII of Norway (1872 – 1957), married Princess Maud of Wales, daughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, had one son, King Olav V of Norway
- Princess Louise of Denmark (1875 – 1906) married Prince Frederick of Schaumburg-Lippe, had issue
- Prince Harald of Denmark (1876 – 1949) married Princess Helena Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, had issue including Caroline-Mathilde, Hereditary Princess of Denmark
- Princess Ingeborg of Denmark (1878 – 1958), married Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland, had issue including Märtha Louise, Crown Princess of Norway and Astrid, Queen of the Belgians
- Princess Thyra of Denmark (1880 – 1945), unmarried
- Prince Gustav of Denmark (1887 – 1944), unmarried
- Princess Dagmar of Denmark (1890 – 1961) married Jørgen Castenskiold, had issue
The family lived a secluded life, residing at Amalienborg Palace during the winter and Charlottenlund Palace during the summer. Louise was a strict, but caring mother who made sure her children had a sense of duty. It was long an open secret that she wanted one of her daughters to marry into the Swedish royal family, and this was accomplished when her daughter Princess Ingeborg married Prince Carl of Sweden, the third son of King Oscar II of Sweden.
While Louise was popular with the Danish people, she experienced ostracism within the Danish royal family, which was dominated by her mother-in-law, Queen Louise, born Louise of Hesse-Kassel. Her sisters-in-law Alexandra (the future Queen of the United Kingdom) and Dagmar (the future Empress of Russia) did not care about her and were not fond of her. Frederik was too timid to support his wife. Louise did have an ally in her sister-in-law Thyra (later Crown Princess of Hanover), who was two years younger.
During her long tenure as the Danish Crown Princess, Louise founded a number of charitable organizations. She was deeply religious and had a lifelong interest in the Church Association for the Inner Mission in Denmark. In her spare time, Louise did needlework, leather work, and painting.
In 1906, Louise’s father-in-law King Christian IX died after a reign of nearly 43 years and her husband became King Frederik VIII. She was politically well-informed, but never intervened in political situations. Louise’s period as Queen of Denmark was short as Frederik reigned for only six years. He died in Hamburg, Germany on May 14, 1912 at the age of 68. He was returning to Denmark after a trip to Nice, France and made a stop in Hamburg. He went out for a walk on the evening of his arrival, became faint, collapsed, and died on a park bench where he was found by a policeman.
As a widow, Louise continued her charity work and took care of her three unmarried children. From 1915-1917, she built Egelund Castle and lived there for the remainder of her life. Upon her death, Egelund Castle passed to her youngest unmarried son, Prince Gustav. In 1922, her youngest daughter Princess Dagmar married a noble landowner despite Louise’s protestations that she was marrying beneath her station. Queen Louise died on March 20, 1926 at Amalienborg Palace and was buried next to her husband in the Glücksburger Chapel at Roskilde Cathedral.