Louise Margaret of Prussia was born on 25 July 1860 at the Marble Palace in Potsdam as the daughter of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia and Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau. Her father was a nephew of William I, German Emperor and a double cousin of Frederick III, German Emperor, who was also the husband of Louise Margaret’s future sister-in-law, Victoria, Princess Royal.
Louise Margaret grew up mostly in Berlin and was a true soldier’s daughter – something that would come in handy in her married life. She was known as “Mimi” in the family. As a child, she was considered to be delicate, and she grew up to be rather shy. The age difference between her and her elder sisters, and younger brother was quite big, and she tended to be rather lonely growing up. She had an English governess and was friendly with her sister-in-law, Victoria and her eldest daughter Charlotte.
She met her future husband, Arthur, Duke of Connaught when she just 18 years old – he was ten years older. He presented her with a bouquet of her favourite flowers but did not propose just yet. He returned to England to consult his mother. Queen Victoria recorded the conversation with her son in her journal. “Dear Arthur arrived and stopped with us while we were taking tea. Afterwards remained talking with me a little while, and told me that he had taken a great liking to young Louise of Prussia, Fritz Carl’s youngest daughter, who was brought up by an English governess. The latter is now gone to Alice’s girl. He said he did not wish to marry yet, and no one had breathed a word about it, but he liked her better and better, and meant, if I had no objection, to ask to see her this summer again. I could not help saying that I dislike the Prussians and told him he should see others first, but he said it would make no difference. What could I then say, but that, of course, his happiness was the first thing? He assured me he liked her better than anyone he had seen, but that he would not do anything without my consent, and looked so sad and earnest, yet so dear and gentle, that, having heard nothing but good of the girl, I could not object.”
Even Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter approved and she wrote to her mother, “I could not choose for a sister-in-law anyone I like better than Louise. She will make Arthur a most delightful wife. Each is the complement of the other, and I foresee that each will make the other supremely happy.” Eventually, a double engagement was announced between Arthur and Louise Margaret but also between her elder sister Marie and Prince Henry of the Netherlands. The death of Arthur’s sister Alice meant that the engagement lasted for over a year and Arthur travelled to Berlin several times during this year.
In March 1878, Louise Margaret travelled to England. She received a dowry of £30,000, half of which was spent on her trousseau. Arthur was waiting on the shore as Louise Margaret arrived in a yacht and sprang abroad when the yacht came alongside the shore. They appeared on the deck together, and there were cheers as they disembarked.
Louise Margaret charmed Queen Victoria who gave her the nickname “Louischen.” Queen Victoria wrote to her eldest daughter, “Had I not seen Louischen before Arthur spoke to me of his feelings for her, I should not have grieved him by hesitating for a moment in giving my consent to their union. She is a dear, sweet girl of the most amiable and charming character, and whatever nationality she was, I feel sure dear Arthur could not have chosen more wisely.” The wedding day was set for 13 March 1879.
The wedding was celebrated with great pomp at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Arthur led his bride to the altar, and there were many foreign royals in attendance. Louise Margaret was attended by eight bridesmaids in white satin gowns embroidered with wild roses. She wore a gown of rich white satin trimmed with lace, and she wore myrtle leaves. She had diamonds in her hair, and she wore a diamond necklace, and a veil was attached to her bridal wreath. After several days at Claremont and Windsor Castle, the newlyweds departed for a cruise in the Mediterranean. After their return to England, they took up residence in Bagshot Park.
On 15 January 1882, Louise Margaret gave birth to a daughter who was christened Margaret after her mother. Arthur was delighted, but he was soon called to active service in Egypt. Louise Margaret hid her anxiety at his departure but could not hide her sadness. He did not return until the end of the year, just in time to see the birth of his son – also named Arthur – on 13 January 1883. As Arthur returned home, life went back to normal somewhat. Louise Margaret spent most of her time sketching away with her children by her side – and often the subject of the sketch.1