I have just completed watching a Swedish show called Anno 1790. It is quite good, but precedes the 19th century. Nevertheless the fashion was heavily influenced by the country de jour; France. The aristocracies clothing and constant mention of the King had me pondering the Swedish Monarchy. The Scandinavian countries are known for their egalitarian ways and I wondered when that started, but before I could delve into when this “enlightenment” occurred I got sidetracked by the portraits of the Queen consorts. . . It happens. So here is a short list of the Queens from 1790 to 1900s.
Sophia Magdalena of Denmark
Sophia was born the Crown Princess of Denmark and betrothed to Gustav III by age five years. She married Gustav III at the ripe old age of 20 in a jaw dropping silver gown. Despite her beauty the marriage was not consummated for nine years, supposedly. She was shy, reserved, and very religious. High society found her a bit of a party-pooper.
Frederica of Baden
This beautiful German Princess married Gustaf IV Adolf at the tender age of 16 and became Queen that year. In the beginning despite being Queen; and indulging in her 16 year old endeavors, she often played “childish” games with her ladies in waiting. She was a skilled musician in a medieval form of keyboard. She and the King were actually divorced in 1812.
Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (what a mouthful!)
Not only was Hevig Queen Consort by age 50 she was a notable diarist, memoirist, and was quite the wit. She married Charles XIII when she was the tender age of 15, but went by Queen Charlotte once crowned. She was lively and coquettish; and fit right in with the court despite her German background. She loved to act and dance with the royal court. Her physical appearance was her smallness; her 19 inch waist and her tiny girl size 13 shoes held much interest. She lived quite the storied life.
Bernadine Eugenie Desiree Clary
Was the ex-fiancé of Napoleon Bonaparte (he met the fabled Josephine during his engagement to Desiree and broke off the engagement to marry Josephine. To make matters more confusing, she was actually engaged to Napoleon’s brother, until Napoleon suggested that his brother marry her older sister, and he marries Desirer–The temerity of that jerk!) She was a French commoner; a wealthy silk merchant. She then married a French general who ended up being “elected to be Swedish heir” and by proxy made her Princess and future Queen. How convenient. However, she disliked Sweden and spent much of her time in France.
Josephine of Leuchtenberg
First it was the Danish Princess, then two Germans, and a French “Maid,” now an Italian Princess! Josephine married Oscar I when she was also 16 years old and like some of the wives before her, was originally married by proxy. She was very determined in her role; charming, a patron the arts, very politically active, and made a point to study and learn the Swedish language before she took one step on Swedish soil. That’s dedication!
Wilhelmina Frederika Alexandrine Anna Louise; Louise of the Netherlands
Louise first met Charles XV when she was 21 as one of the “meet and greet” interview for potential royal spouses and was instantly attracted to the man. He unfortunately never harbor any real romantic feelings for her. She was very timid and sensitive. She was very involved in charities, however.
Sophia of Nassau
A hundred years later and we are back to a Queen Sophie! This Sophia was a German Princess, not Danish. She was also an interesting character. Due to ailments, she was taught to fence to strength her back. She was extremely smart. She met Oscar II when she was twenty years old when he was sent on a Spousal Mission to all the courts of Europe to pick someone suitable of rank and personality. They were genuinely in love with one another! How rare for the time!