At 20 years old, the young and eligible Prince Louis Charles of Prussia was in need of a wife and his father, King Frederick William II of Prussia, was searching Europe for suitable candidates. His son loved living the high life and the king was determined that he would make him a fine match, hoping to secure some dynastic ties at the same time.
|Prince Louis Charles of Prussia by Edward Francis Cunningham, 1786|
Whilst visiting the theatre in Frankfurt-am-Main, Frederick William met sisters Louise and Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Aged 17 and 15 respectively, the king found the sisters utterly charming and after some negotiations with their father, Charles II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, it was agreed that Louise would marry Crown Prince Frederick William and Frederica would be wed to the younger Prince Louis.
The marriage of Louis and Frederica took place on 26th December 1793 and from the start, the couple did not get along. Louis barely saw his wife and instead kept the company of his mistresses, on whom he lavished time and attention. Encouraged by his father to do his princely duty, Louis and Frederica eventually had three children together, two of whom survived to adulthood, though their offspring did nothing to bring the unhappy couple closer. The court gossips murmured that the unhappy woman sought solace in the company of her uncle-in law, Prince Louis Ferdinand, but whether this is true or not, her neglectful husband appeared hardly to care.
|Princess Frederica by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein, 1797|
In fact, the marriage was over in three years when Louis died of diphtheria in 1796. Frederica married three more times, eventually becoming Queen of Hanover through her marriage to Ernest Augustus, son of our very own George III.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.