Louisa Ulrika of Prussia – The Revolutionary Queen




(public domain)

Louisa Ulrika of Prussia was born on 24 July 1720 as the daughter of Frederick William I of Prussia and his wife Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. She was their tenth child. At the age of three, she was put in the care of a French governess by the name of Mademoiselle de Jeaucourt with her sister Sophie. Her interests were literature, science, architecture, music, politics and fashion.1

When the Swedish ambassador approached her brother King Frederick the Great to arrange a marriage between Louisa Ulrika and the heir to the Swedish throne, her brother responded that her sister Anna Amalia would be far better suited. “Princess Louisa Ulrika has a haughty and domineering nature and will be ill-at-ease in a monarchy with its authority as limited as it is in Sweden.”2 Despite this, Louisa Ulrika and Adolf Frederick married by proxy on 14 July 1744. She arrived in Sweden in August, and a second marriage ceremony was performed. Louisa Ulrika had already set a goal; restoring the Crown’s prestige. From the beginning, it was clear that she would play a major role in Swedish politics. Even as Crown Princess, she set about influencing her brother’s choice of ambassadors to Stockholm.3 An official dispatch from France read,”…the Princess (who) is all the more culpable since she is of superior intelligence; instead of adopting dangerous policies, she should try to guide the prince, her husband, away from these.”4

Her first child was a stillborn son in 1745. Three more sons followed in 1746, 1748 and 1750. In 1753, the couple’s only daughter was born.

She became Queen consort in March 1751 upon the death of King Frederick I. She and her husband were crowned together, and both swore to reject, “arbitrary and despotic powers.” It wasn’t long before Louisa Ulrika was fretting about the limitations imposed on the royal authority in Sweden.5 She formed a court party around aristocrats and young officers to restore the royal authority, despite her brother’s advice to unify all parties to keep the crown on their heads.6 During a ball, she made the French ambassador sit next to her to converse with him in private. On another occasion, she tried to convince him of the lack of the authority of the King and the arrogance of the senators.7 The French ambassador was not amused and they had a falling out.

(public domain)

The conflict eventually spiralled out of control and became a riot by the hand of Louisa Ulrika. She wrote to her brother, “The people would sacrifice themselves if there were a revolution.”8A revolution was avoided and dutiful Te Deum was sung in churches. Adolf Frederick showed himself repentant, but Louisa Ulrika remained adamant and wrote that it was perfectly legal for the King to use force to restore his rightful authority.9 She proudly wrote, “In the worst situations, I remember that I am the sister of Frederick the Great, and this name restores my courage.”10

The years following the failed revolution, Sweden became involved in several European military conflicts, and Louisa Ulrika personally suffered several losses in her family. On 12 February 1771, Adolf Frederick suffered an attack of apoplexy, and he died propped up on Louisa Ulrika’s knees.11 Her eldest surviving son became King Gustav III. In 1772, Gustav himself staged a coup which restored the royal authority. He truly was his mother’s son.

After her husband’s death, she found solace in reading.12 She ended her days in isolation with few friends and seemed entirely forgotten by the nation that had once welcomed her as Crown Princess. She died on 16 July 1782.

  1. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.323
  2. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.322
  3. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.327
  4. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.328
  5. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.328
  6. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.329
  7. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.330
  8. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.330
  9. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.332
  10. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.332
  11. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.338
  12. Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815 – The Role of the Consort edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr p.340






About Moniek 1422 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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