This article was written by Sophie Strid.
On 13 July 1889, Louise Alexandra Marie Irene Battenberg was born at Heiligenberg Castle in Germany. A great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Louise spent the majority of her younger years in Great Britain, and together with her mother, she would often visit her great-grandmother on the Isle of Wight.
During the First World War, she did volunteer work for the British Red Cross, and later on, travelled to France to work as a nurse at French military hospitals. Upon her return to England, she would engage in social work for children in the slums of London. Being a Battenberg during this time did not work in one’s favour, as anti-German sentiments among the British people were increasing, and a change to a more English-sounding name was inevitable.
After a couple of failed relationships, including a rejected proposal from King Manuel II of Portugal, Lady Louise met Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden in 1923. A recent widower, the Swedish royal was searching for a suitable companion who could assist him in the upbringing of his five children. They began a courtship, and Louise’s lifelong wish of marrying for love was granted later that same year. The ceremony took place in November of 1923, in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace in London. She was 34 at the time.
Described as shy, the first years as a royal proved challenging for Louise, as she found herself juggling royal engagements with being the new stepmother of 5. During this time, she gave birth to a stillborn daughter, and she never became pregnant again. Despite her personal struggle, she never let it get in the way of her duties as the Crown Princess. A former nurse, she was made the protector of the Swedish Red Cross in Stockholm, determined to improve the working conditions of nurses. She also engaged in various trips around Europe and Asia together with her husband.
When her father-in-law, King Gustav V of Sweden, passed away in 1950, Louise became Queen. Having been introduced to public engagements early on, the transition was not so dramatic. As her royal appearances increased, she slowly developed a relationship with the public, and as her popularity grew, so did the popularity of the monarchy. She was known to have a sense of humour, and while she could be impatient, she did not take herself too seriously, which the Swedish people appreciated. Sadly, Louise’s health suddenly began to deteriorate during this time, as she suffered two minor heart attacks.
In March of 1965, after a period of severe illness, Louise died at St Goran’s hospital in Stockholm, and the King had yet again lost the love of his life. She was 75.