In November 1800, Louise turned 30 years old. She wrote to her mother, “I am very amazed that I am already 30 years old.[…] It’s like it was only yesterday that you were my age and I remember thinking how very old you were.”1 Her life in Brunswick remained pretty much the same except her husband seemed to be getting worse. His general health was declining and his sight gradually deteriorated until he was completely blind. He became even more attached to her. She wrote to her mother, “I should be grateful to have such a good and kind husband. The Prince has literally no other wish than to see me happy and he will do whatever it takes.”2 Their childlessness had made her relationship with her father-in-law more difficult and he eventually forced Karl to give up his hereditary rights to his youngest brother Frederick William. Karl’s second and third brother were also mentally disabled. Frederick William had initially refused to marry but in 1802, he married Marie of Baden. Although Marie supplanted Louise’s position at court, Louise and Marie became close. She loved her nephews Charles and William, born in 1804 and 1806. Marie died shortly after giving birth to a stillborn daughter in 1808.
Louise’s brother moved from England to Berlin and Louise was able to visit him and his family often. She wrote gushing letters to her mother about her brother’s children. In 1802, Louise was finally able to see her mother again when she and her father moved to Oranienstein. On 9 April 1806, Louise’s father died at Brunswick at the age of 58. Wilhelmina did not want to return to Oranienstein without him and decided to stay in Brunswick with Louise. Just five months later, Louise was widowed as well. Louise immediately decided to leave the ducal palace, where her father-in-law had continued to treat her badly over her childlessness. A stay in Brunswick would become impossible anyway with an impending war and Wilhelmina and Louise ended up in Schwerin where they were given rooms in the palace.
Wilhelmina and Louise impatiently awaited news from the front where Louise’s brother was fighting. His wife and children had been in Berlin but his daughter Pauline died during the flight to Freienwalde at the age of six. Eventually, Schwerin became unsafe as well and Louise and Wilhelmina fled from Lubeck to Kiel to Schleswig where they hoped to find protection from the Danes. They rented an apartment with a small following. Louise wrote to her brother, “We live as sober as possible, but there are so many of us. We shall try to make it through the winter and we’ll see then.”3 After a short trip to Weimar, mother and daughter eventually made their way to Berlin where Louise’s brother waited with his family. They moved in with them into the Niederländische Palais. Louise and Wilhelmina were happy to finally be reunited with their family and even welcomed a new addition as Princess Marianne was born on 9 May 1810.
At Schönhausen, which Wilhelmina bought, Louise threw herself into her role as an aunt. She was a master at organising surprises and little parties. She also often entertained the children of the King and Queen of Prussia. Her brother was finally able to return to the Netherlands in 1813 and he officially became its first King in 1815. Louise was there to see her family’s return to glory, her brother’s coronation, the marriage of her nephew to Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia and the birth of the next generation in 1816.
In the autumn of 1817, Louise travelled back to Germany for several weeks and she wrote to her mother that she had forgotten how to write letters. It was to be her last journey abroad and she returned home to spend the last two years of her life by her mother’s side. Louise died on 15 October 1819 after a short illness and her mother would follow just eight months later. After her daughter’s death, Wilhelmina wrote, “Sometimes I think it was necessary, for God to take her from me. Perhaps I was too attached to life and the wish not to be separated from my daughter. She could not get used to the thought that she would survive me as the natural order of things would be.”4 Louise was buried in the royal crypt in Delft.