Luisa Carlotta of Naples and Sicily was born at the Palace of Portici on 24 October 1804 as the daughter of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies and his second wife María Isabella of Spain. She had one surviving half-sister from her father’s first marriage to Maria Clementina of Austria. She had ten full siblings from her father’s second marriage.
She was still only 14 years old when she married her maternal uncle Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain, who was ten years her senior. Her mother was reportedly against the match because she considered her brother to be too reckless. He was the 14th and final child of King Charles IV of Spain and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma. His elder brother became King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The proxy wedding between Francisco and Luisa Carlotta took place on 15 April 1819, and she arrived in Barcelona on 14 May. A second wedding ceremony took place on 9 June 1819 at the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Luisa Carlotta became known for being lively and ambitious. The newlyweds moved into a wing of the Royal Palace of Madrid and between 1820 and 1834, they went on to have 11 children. They were: Francisco de Asís Luis (1820 – 1821), Isabel Fernanda (1821–1897), Francisco de Asís, Duke of Cádiz (1822–1902), Enrique, Duke of Seville (1823–1870), Luisa Teresa (1824–1900), Eduardo Felipe (1826–1830), Josefina Fernanda (1827–1910), María Teresa (1828–1829), Fernando María (1832–1854), María Cristina (1833–1902) and Amalia (1834–1905).
It seemed unlikely that Francisco would ever become King of Spain, he was only fifth in the line of succession. However, his brother Ferdinand VII had no surviving children by first two wives, and he had remarried for a third time just a few months after Francisco married Luisa Carlotta. This third marriage also produced no children, and when his wife Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony died in 1829, he would remarry for the fourth and final time to Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, who was also Luisa Carlotta’s younger sister. Luisa Carlotta was reportedly the driving power behind the match. They went on to have two daughters together: the future Queen Isabella II of Spain and Infanta Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier. Ferdinand set aside salic law (which barred women from inheriting the throne) in favour of male-preference primogeniture to allow for the succession of his eldest daughter. This law is still in use today in Spain.
Naturally, his brother Carlos – who had been heir to the throne – was none too pleased with this. When his brother died, he issued his own statement declaring his accession to the throne. Maria Christina declared herself regent for her daughter. Luisa Carlotta was also on her niece’s side, but Luisa Carlotta was deeply disappointed her sister’s secret remarriage to Agustín Fernando Muñoz. The Queen regent eventually ordered Luisa Carlotta and her family abroad.
They settled in France where they often attended the court of Louis Philippe, King of French, whose wife Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily was Luisa Carlotta’s aunt. At the French court, they were described by the Duchess of Dino. “The Infanta is very fair, with a face which, though washed out, is none the less stern, with a rough manner of speaking. I felt very ill at ease with her, although she was very courteous. Her husband is red-haired and ugly, and the whole tribe of little infantes, boys and girls, are utterly detestable.” When Luisa Carlotta’s sister was ousted from her regency and exiled to France, Francisco and Luisa Carlotta were able to return to Spain.
They were eventually allowed to return to Madrid, and they focussed their attention on marrying their sons Francisco de Asis and Enrique to the young Queen Isabella II and her sister Luisa Fernanda. Their insistence led to a second banishment in 1842. In 1843, Queen Isabella was declared to be of age, and Luisa Carlotta and Fransisco returned to Madrid once more. They moved into the Palace of San Juan.
Luisa Carlotta would not see the marriage between her eldest son and the young Queen take place. She died of the measles on 29 January 1844 – she was still only 39. She was buried at El Escorial in the Pantheon of the Princes. On 10 October 1846, the much-desired marriage took place, and her son became King consort of Spain. Through him, she is the ancestress of the current Spanish royal family.
On 19 December 1852, her husband married Teresa de Arredondo y Ramirez de Arellano which was considered to be an unequal or morganatic marriage. Their son was born just one week after their wedding.