Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz – Fighting the monster

A young Princess

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on 10 March 1776 as the daughter of Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Landgravine Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt. Louise was particularly close to her younger sister Frederica. She also had two elder sisters, Charlotte and Therese, and one younger brother who survived to adulthood. Her mother died when Louise was just six years old as a result of either childbirth or a miscarriage.1 Her father remarried to her mother’s younger sister Charlotte, but she too was dead within the year due to childbirth complications.2 Louise’s elder sister Charlotte married that same year, but the younger girls were sent to live with their grandmother Marie Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt in Darmstadt. Young Louise was known by the pet name “Jungfer Husch”, which translates as “Little-Miss-in-a-Hurry.” The girls had a Swiss governess who taught them some history, French and English. Louise often failed to do her schoolwork and reportedly often went without dessert.3

In 1789, Therese married the Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis, leaving behind just Louise and Frederica.4 In 1792, Louise had her first communion and her confirmation in the Lutheran Church. She proudly wrote in her journal, “This has been the most important day of my life, and may God give me the strength to carry out all that I have promised.”5 She was 16 years old now and would soon be married.

A bride

In March 1793, Louise and Frederica were presented to King Frederick William II of Prussia at the theatre, where his son the Crown Prince also happened to be watching. Louise was certainly aware why they were being presented to the King. Marriage was in the cards. They were engaged a few days later.6 The Crown Prince’s younger brother Louis proposed to Frederica, and both engagements were announced a few weeks later.7

Louise and Frederick William were married in the White Room of the palace in Berlin on 24 December 1793, her sister and his brother were married two days later.8 Louise was now the Crown Princess of Prussia, and she would face difficulties facing the restrictions placed upon her. She quickly fell pregnant but she suffered a fall down a flight of stairs, and their daughter was stillborn.9 Not much later, her sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Louise’s second pregnancy was more successful, and she gave birth to a healthy boy on 15 October 1795. He too was named Frederick William. The new family moved to Paretz, not far from Potsdam, where a house was built for them. Frederica’s marriage would end suddenly, Louis died on 28 December 1796 after complaining of a sore throat. They had two surviving children.10 He was not the only one to fall ill. Louise’s husband also fell ill and watched his brother’s funeral procession from a window. Despite a third pregnancy, Louise nursed him back to health. A healthy son was born on 22 March 1797. 11

Our peaceful happiness is over

The King too was ill. While in Poland, his legs had begun to swell, which was then loosely diagnosed as dropsy. He went to take the baths at Pyrmont, but the benefit was only temporary. He returned to Potsdam and disappeared from public view before dying on 16 November 1797. The new King Frederick William III gloomily commented, “My time of trial is about to begin. Our peaceful happiness is over.”12

In the summer of 1798, Louise gave birth to her fourth child, a daughter named Charlotte. Meanwhile, Louise’s sister Frederica spun out of control. In 1798, a pregnant Frederica married Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. Louise’s husband was incensed. Frederica was told to leave her son in Berlin and for the first time in a long time, she would be separated from Louise. Frederica left Berlin in January of 1799.13 Louise was not ready to give up on Frederica and named her fifth child Frederica, but unfortunately the child died six months later.14 On 29 June 1801, she gave birth to another son named Alexander, followed by a daughter named Alexandrine in 1803. Another Prince was born on 13 December 1804, but he would die of diphtheria before his second birthday.

Let us fight the monster

As Napoleon Bonaparte began to tear apart the seams of Europe, Louise became one of his main opponents. After the signing of a treaty in February 1806, she exclaimed, “Worries-listen to me dear Hoym, there is only one thing to be done: let us fight the monster, let us beat the monster down, and then we can talk of worries.”15 Her passionate speech became a slogan, and Louise even became the patron of newly named Queen’s Cuirassiers. Napoleon’s response was reportedly, “So- Mademoiselle of Mecklenburg wants to make war on me, does she? Let her come! I am not afraid of women!”16

As the war came closer, not only Frederick William but also Louise was on the move. Louise even ran into her sister Frederica, who by then had two surviving children with Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels.17 Louise charmed the people who proudly wrote to her husband, “They love you, they will sacrifice everything… Make use of them, for great things may come of this.”18

Napoleon arrived in Berlin and rummaged through her drawers at Charlottenburg Palace.19 Louise herself fell ill during this time.20 It was probably some kind of typhoid fever, and it wasn’t until two weeks later that her fever began to decline.21 She had survived but her maid, who had also caught the infection, died.

Louise found herself once again pregnant in 1807, but she feared that the worrying letters from her husband about Prussia’s future would have a bad effect on the child.22 Louise went to visit her husband at Tilsit, and it was there that she would finally meet Napoleon. She wrote to her husband, “I can give you no greater proof of my love, no greater proof of devotion to my country than by coming to Tilsit.” To others, she said that she felt like she was going to her death.23

Louise wasted no time and told Napoleon, “Sire, I know you have accused me of meddling in politics. But I am sure of it, and so I want to make plain the ground of which I stand. I am a wife and mother and as such recommend Prussia to your mercy, a country in which I am deeply rooted and which has given so many proofs of the affection it feels for me and for my family.” Louise spent an hour alone with Napoleon and appealed to his generosity.24 The conversation came to an end when Louise’s husband entered the room. It was reported to her that Napoleon had later commented, “Your Queen of Prussia is really very charming. One would like to lay a crown at her feet instead of taking it away.”25 Her attempts to protect her country were in vain.

It was agreed that Prussia was to pay the war damages and Louise felt that Prussia had been sentenced to death. Louise, who was by then six months pregnant, was ready to go to Paris and plead with Napoleon once more. Frederick William would not let her go.26 A daughter named Louise was born on 1 February 1808. The following year, she was once again pregnant. She was ill with a fever when she gave birth to a healthy boy named Albert on 4 November 1809. Her recovery was slow this time, and she continued to suffer from cardiac problems.27

The knife has been removed from our throats

Despite her illness, it was now, at last, time to return to Berlin. The trip to Berlin was depressing. There were signs of poverty and war everywhere.28 Napoleon’s focus had shifted from Prussia as his brother abdicated from the throne of Holland. Louise was happy, “The knife has been removed from our throats.”29 To another, she wrote, “My soul has grown grey, but my heart, I hope, is still young.”30

At Hohenzieritz, Louise began to feel feverish once more. She was bled, and the fever appeared to be going down. But then her cardiac problems returned.31 Frederick William rushed to her and found her surprisingly coherent. She asked him if she was dying and told him she only wanted his happiness and for the children to be brought up well. As death began to take over, she panted, “Lord God, Lord Jesus, make it short!” Louise died on 19 July 1810; she was just 34 years old.

Frederick William was sure that the tragedy was preordained. “If she had been the wife of some other man, she would have lived, but since she was my wife, she had to die.”32

She was buried in the Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace on 23 December 1810.

  1. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 8
  2. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 8
  3. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 9
  4. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 10
  5. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 10
  6. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 106
  7. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 17
  8. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 26
  9. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 33
  10. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 37
  11. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 38
  12. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 39
  13. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 46
  14. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 47
  15. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 92
  16. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 113
  17. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 129
  18. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 129
  19. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 134
  20. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 141
  21. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 145
  22. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 166
  23. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 168
  24. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 171
  25. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 172
  26. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 186
  27. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 217
  28. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 218
  29. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 224
  30. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 224
  31. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 228-229
  32. Constance Wright – Louise, Queen of Prussia p. 231



About Moniek 1089 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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