This article was written by Sophie Strid.
Margaret Victoria Augusta Charlotte Norah was born 15 January 1882 at Bagshot Park in Surrey, England. Her parents were Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia. She had two younger siblings, Arthur and Patricia. Known as “Daisy” to family and friends, Margaret was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and grew up as a member of the British Royal Family. When the Duke of York married Princess Mary of Teck in 1893, Margaret was one of the bridesmaids.
In the early 1900s, Margaret and Patricia were regarded as the most beautiful princesses in Europe. King Edward VII was determined to marry off his nieces to European royals, and in January of 1905, the Connaught family went on a cruise to the Mediterranean and the Nile in search of eligible partners. Around the same time, Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden was visiting his mother, Crown Princess Victoria, on Capri. He was just about to return to Stockholm when he received an invitation to a ball in Cairo. It was said to be in honour of the Connaught girls. Having heard of their beauty, the Prince was off to Egypt in a heartbeat.
Rumour had it that the Connaughts wanted Patricia to marry the Swedish royal, but when the Prince saw Margaret on the dance floor, he was immediately smitten. It was love at first sight, and on 25 February 1905, the engagement was announced in Cairo. The news came as a lovely surprise to the Swedish people, and the court, particularly the Prince’s grandfather, King Oscar II, was ecstatic. The fact that the heir to the throne was marrying a British royal was considered highly prestigious, and the future of the Swedish monarchy seemed brighter than ever before. The wedding took place in St George Chapel at Windsor Castle on 15 June 1905. The bride wore a dress of Irish lace and a lovely floral crown instead of a traditional tiara. Her bouquet was, of course, made of daisies. Royal wedding guests included King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, the Khedive of Egypt, and the future King George V. The couple received luxurious wedding gifts, including jewellery and tiaras which are still used by the Swedish Royal Family today.
After a romantic honeymoon in Ireland, the couple arrived in Stockholm in early July. Margaret, now called Margareta, began taking classes in history, politics, and Swedish. Two years later, she impressed everyone by demonstrating complete fluency in the language. In December of 1907, her father-in-law, Gustaf V, ascended to the throne and she was declared Crown Princess.
The marriage has been described as very happy. Gustav Adolf had witnessed the elongated collapse of his parents’ marriage, and as a result, had little faith in love until Margaret came along. She made him open up and become more socially engaged, and the popularity of the monarchy grew. In 1906, Margaret gave birth to the couple’s first child. To everyone’s joy and relief, it was a boy, and the new Prince was named after his father. The couple had a total of five children; shortly after Gustav Adolf came Sigvard, followed by Ingrid in 1910, Bertil in 1912, and Carl Johan in 1916.
Margaret was a gifted photographer and painter, and many of her artworks are now adorning the walls of Stockholm Palace. She also had a passion for sports, an unusual interest for women of her time, and she played both tennis and golf. During the colder months, she often went skiing and loved playing hockey, and she even started a hockey club for women. One of the members was Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who was married to Margaret’s brother-in-law, Prince Wilhelm.
After receiving Sofiero Castle as a wedding gift from Oscar II, Margaret and Gustav Adolf began renovating its rundown garden. The landscape was created with inspiration from England, and the final result was stunning. Books of Margaret’s own illustrations and photographs of the garden were released, and the family began spending their summers on the Scania property. Margaret was very popular among the Swedish people, and her influence on everyday life was evident. The country experienced a rise in tea consumption, living rooms were decorated with flowered wallpaper, and gardening became a trendy hobby.
In the late 1919s, it was announced that Margaret, now 37, was expecting her sixth child, but few knew about the Crown Princess’s declining health. A couple of months earlier, she had been diagnosed with otitis and had to undergo surgery in December. In March the following year, she became ill with chickenpox and was fighting a severe cold. On 30 April, she complained about pain in her right ear and jaw, and the following morning, she suffered blood poisoning and heart failure. On 1 May, Margaret passed away eight months pregnant at the age of 38. Gustav Adolf was absolutely crushed. Following royal protocol, a cabinet meeting was arranged to inform relatives in England, and upon its closing, a notably taken Prime Minister said:
“The ray of sunshine at Stockholm Palace has gone out.”