Saturday, 7 December 2013

Louise of Great Britain, A Well-Loved Queen

Louise of Great Britain (London, England, 7th December 1724 - Copenhagen, Denmark, 19th December 1751)

Queen Louise of Denmark in her Coronation Robes by Carl Gustaf Pilo, 1747
Queen Louise of Denmark in her Coronation Robes by Carl Gustaf Pilo, 1747

I’ve got the best china out again today to welcome another daughter of the house of Hanover. Louise of Great Britain was a sister to our previous guest, Anne, Princess Royal, and like her, left England behind for the courts of Europe. Like her sibling, Louise made a good marriage and even became a queen, yet her life was to be a short one.

Louise was the youngest surviving daughter of George II and Caroline of Ansbach, then Prince and Princess of Wales. Her christening took place on 22nd December 1724 at Leicester House and among her godparents she counted yet another lady who has previously featured at the Guide, Louisa Ulrika of Prussia.

When Louise was just two years old her father was crowned king and the little girl was raised and educated to make a good marriage. Gregarious, sociable and cultured, she had a charming personality and found it easy to make friends so the family must have been confident that a likely groom would be easy to find. Meanwhile in Denmark the hunt was on to find a bride for the future King Frederick V, son of Christian VI and Sophie Magdalene. Christian hoped that a good dynastic marriage would secure English support for his claim to the Swedish throne and after negotiations, George agreed to marry his daughter to the hedonistic Frederick. The young man was known for his love of women and he had no intentions of settling to married life but he agreed to the match, though impending marriage did nothing to curb his gadding about!

King Christian VI with his family by Carl Marcus Tuscher, 1744
King Christian VI with his family (L to R, Crown Prince Frederick, King Christian VI, Queen Sophie Magdalene, Crown Princess Louise) by Carl Marcus Tuscher, 1744

The couple were married at Altona, Holstein, on 11th December 1743 and eventually had five children, four of whom survived childhood. Louise and Frederick became good friends though he continued to have numerous mistresses and fathered several illegitimate children. If Louise was distressed by her husband’s behaviour she never showed it nor discussed the matter and instead it appears she turned a blind eye, instead throwing herself into life at court.  

Louise and Frederick had been married for almost three years when they became King and Queen of Denmark and Norway on 6th August 1746 and Louise was very popular with the people thanks to her efforts to fit into Danish life. She studied the culture and tradition of her adopted country and learned to speak Danish, ensuring that her children were also raised speaking their native language, an unusual decision in the German-speaking court. 

Queen Louise of Denmark in her Coronation Robes by Carl Gustaf Pilo, 1751
Louise of Great Britain by Carl Gustaf Pilo, 1751

Under their stewardship the court that had been so dour and stern rang once more to the sound of music and song, Louise invited theatre companies to perform for courtiers and was tirelessly cheerful and charming. Her popularity helped her husband win the favour of his subjects and she was as well-liked at court as she was with the people of Denmark.

The life of this vibrant young woman was to come to an abrupt end in December 1751. Aged just 27, Louise suffered a traumatic miscarriage at Christiansborg Palace and died as a result of complications. Her burial took place at Roskilde Cathedral, the young queen mourned deeply by the nation that had taken her to its heart.

4 comments:

  1. What a charming woman and, obviously very intelligent. Looking at her portraits, I got lost once more in the beautiful fabric of her gowns. I love to wander the art museums and study not only the people in the paintings but their beautiful clothing. I would love to touch those amazing fabrics.

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    1. Oh I know what you mean, the detail is exquisite.

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  2. First, I find it interesting that the court spoke German. Then, I find it interesting that Louise taught her children native language. Did they also speak German and English? I also like the point that here is another man that was popular because of his wife... LOVE IT.

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    1. I would imagine they spoke German and English too; I also love the fact that she was such a major factor in her husband's popularity!

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