Princess Louise of Prussia was born on 1 February 1808 as the daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She knew her future husband from a young age, as his family were in exile in Prussia. Prince Frederick of the Netherlands was born in Berlin in 1797 as the second son of the future King William I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmina of Prussia. He grew up to be a true Prussian.1
On 21 May 1825, Louise and Frederick, known as Fritz, married in Berlin. For their honeymoon, they travelled to Brussels, where they stayed in an estate adjourning the Palace of Laeken. In the autumn of 1825, the couple returned to The Hague and after the birth of their first daughter, also named Louise, they moved into the Palace at the Korte Voorhout. Little Louise, nicknamed Poutje, was followed by Frederick junior, nicknamed Fritzi, in 1836 and Marie, nicknamed Mené, in 1841. Another son, named William, born in 1833, died before his second birthday. From 1840 on, the family almost constantly lived at Huize de Paauw in Wassenaar. The Korte Voorhout Palace remained their official residence and they held receptions and balls there. Anna Pavlovna, the wife of King William II, wrote that she always found their balls “especially charming.”2
However, Louise never felt quite at home in The Netherlands, and their home in Wassenaar almost became a Prussian enclave. Even most of the staff was Prussian. The couple wrote and spoke to each other in German.
Louise’s two daughters were taught French, German and a little bit of English and Russian. They also practised their painting, needlework and maths. They were given instruction in music by the director of the The Hague music school.3 Frederick had been unhappy with the way his nephews were being raised and was looking for a more conservative tutor for his own son. He found one in Major Ernest van Löben Sels.4
Tragedy struck in 1846 when the 10-year-old Fritzi fell during a gymnastic exercise. He died ten days later at Huize de Paauw. Sophie of Württemberg, wife of the future King William III, wrote, “I am deeply saddened. The poor Prince Frederick has lost his only son. He died this morning, after being ill for over a week, 10 years old. With him the future of the Prince is destroyed – everything he has gained, built, the ties with this country – everything is gone. He is desperate. She is very controlled, I would say – cold. But I think she is hiding her grief. During the illness of his son, Prince Frederick aged a lot, that’s how much it affected him. The child was the apple of his eye, not very sweet but still intelligent and promising. Saturday. After writing the above, yesterday, I went to see Prince Frederick and his wife. They took me to the little body. I had never seen a dead child before, it is awful. […] Frederick sobbed like a little child and said, ‘There is all my love, it is over now.'”5 The devastated parents kept the boy’s room as it was.
On 30 April 1850, their eldest daughter Louise made a brilliant match and was engaged to the future King Charles XV of Sweden. She kept her succession rights upon marriage, and they married on 19 June 1850. The elder Louise went to visit her daughter in Stockholm every few years. She travelled a lot and also spent time in Berlin and St. Petersburg. In the summer, she and Marie often visited spas. From 1859, a lung condition made the Princess less mobile. Their other daughter Marie was much younger and would not marry until 1871. She married William, Prince of Wied.
In August 1865, Louise visited Bad Ischl where she met Archduchess Sophie, the mother of Emperor Franz Joseph I. She was joined there by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Princess Alexandrine of Prussia (the daughter of Princess Marianne of the Netherlands, Louise’s sister-in-law) and Archduchess Sophie’s sister Elisabeth Ludovika, the Dowager Queen of Prussia. Her daughter Louise joined them a month later.6 She travelled on to Berlin to attend the wedding of Alexandrine to Duke William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Louise would not return to Wassenaar until a few days before Christmas.
Princess Louise died on 6 December 1870 at Huize de Paauw surrounded by her husband, daughter Marie and son-in-law Charles. She had just become a great-grandmother. Despite the cold on the day of her funeral, the streets were lined with people. She had been a quiet Princess in the background, but she had still been loved by the people. “The dead (person) shall be mourned by the people because everyone knew this royal family was a model family”, wrote the Vice-President of the Council of State.7
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.38
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.50
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.54
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.55
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.56
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.90
- Anton van de Sande, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden 1797-1881. Gentleman naast de troon p.63