QUEEN LOUISE OF SWEDEN
HM Queen Louise of Sweden, RRC, formerly HSH Princess Louise Alexandra Marie Irene of Battenberg, and later The Lady Louise Mountbatten was born on 13th July 1889 at Schloß Heiligenberg, Seeheim-Jugenheim, within the Grand Duchy of Hesse, within the German Empire, the youngest daughter and second child of Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Sir Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921) and Princess Victoria of Hesse & By the Rhine (1863-1950), a granddaughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). Louise was a sister to Mountbatten and aunt to Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021). From birth Louise was styled 'Princess Louise of Battenberg' with the qualification of Serene Highness. She was born in the middle of the night and her mother commented that she was "rather a miserable little object" and during her childhood she was diagnosed with curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
Queen Louise of Sweden,
(Princess Louise of Battenberg)
In 1914, Louise accompanied her mother to Imperial Russia to visit family members including her aunt - Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, formerly Princess Alexandra 'Alix' of Hesse & By the Rhine (1872-1918), the consort of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918). During the visit, the outbreak of World War I caused great concern for their safety and Louise's father telegraphed to his wife for them to leave Russia immediately and they headed for neutral Sweden en route to England. Whilst Louise and her mother were in Sweden they were guests of Louise’s future husband - Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, The Crown Prince of Sweden (1882-1973) and his then wife - the former Princess Margaret 'Daisy' of Connaught & Strathearn (1882-1920), herself the daughter of Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1850-1942), third son of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901).
The Battenberg children in 1894 -
(left to right) Princess Louise,
Prince George (seated in chair)
and Princess Alice
ABOVE: Princess Louise in 1903
INSET: (standing at the back)
later 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven;
(seated left to right) Princess Louise;
Mountbatten and Princess Alice,
Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark
RIGHT: The 1907 portrait of
Princess Louise by Philip de Lászlo
Louise had always stated that she wanted to marry for love rather than for political or dynastic reasons. In 1909, 'Uncle Bertie' King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910) had suggested to King Manuel of Portugal (1889-1932) - who subsequently lost his Throne in 1910 and lived in exile in Twickenham, Middlesex, that Louise would be a suitable and politically expedient consort, however she declined his proposal due to the fact she was already secretly engaged to Prince Christopher of Greece & Denmark (1888-1940), the brother of Prince Andrew (1882-1944), husband of her sister - Princess Alice (1885-1969). Since both Louise and her fiancé were financially unable to support their marriage or future together, they unfortunately had to break off their engagement.
Louise as a nurse during World War I
The insignia of the Royal Red Cross (RRC)
The insignia of
Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française
(The Medal of French Gratitude)
During World War I, Louise became active with the charity - Soldiers And Sailors Families Association raising funds for cigarette and tobacco for the military. She decided that this was not enough, got involved with the British Red Cross and soon trained as a nurse. She subsequently went over to France to work at various military hospitals near the front primarily at Nevers beside the Loire and Palaves near Montpelier. Whilst in Nevers, Louise fell for a young Scottish artist - Alexander 'Shakespeare' Stuart-Hill (1889-1948), who was working in the military hospital. Louise feared that her parents would not approve her liaison with a commoner, so they kept their engagement secret and decided to marry once the War was over. Despite being of the same age, Stuart-Hill looked older, and was described as being "affected" and "eccentric". The match was doomed, and in 1918, Louise's father informed her that her fiancé was gay, and Louise ended their relationship.
The Battenberg family were one of the many 'victims' of the Royal Proclamation of 17th July 1917, when King George V (1865(1910-1936) – in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain, declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles and that his family name would be 'Windsor' instead of 'Saxe-Coburg & Gotha'. At The King's request, Louise’s father relinquished his Princely status and decided (after much debate) to adopt the surname of 'Mountbatten' - a literal Anglicized translation of Battenberg, and was created a Peer of the Realm taking the title Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina & Viscount Alderney. As a result of her father’s new status, Louise also lost her own Princely title and assumed the courtesy title of a daughter of a Marquess and became styled 'The Lady Louise Mountbatten'.
After the War, Louise was honoured for her work and dedication including the Royal Red Cross (RRC) and Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française (The Medal of French Gratitude) - awarded to express gratitude by the French Government to all those who, without legal or military obligation, came to the aid of the injured, disabled, refugees, or who had performed an act of exceptional dedication in the presence of the enemy during World War I. Despite no longer being a Princess (which naturally affected her social status), Louise was to carry on caring for others after the War, becoming a volunteer at a charity helping children from the slums in South London.
In 1923, the widowed Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, The Crown Prince of Sweden (1882-1973) visited London whilst travelling around Europe and soon began to fall in love with Louise. His late wife - Princess Margaret 'Daisy' of Connaught & Strathearn (1882-1920) who was also Louise’s first cousin once removed, had died in 1920 when she caught an infection after surgery whilst 8mths pregnant with their sixth child. Louise and Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf met several times at the home of her brother - Sir George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince George of Battenberg (1892-1938) and it soon became clear that an engagement was imminent. Following the announcement of their engagement on 1st July 1923, there was some controversy over whether Louise could become Queen since the law in Sweden concerning the Succession to the Throne stated that a Swedish Prince would forfeit his place in the succession if he - "with or without the King’s knowledge or and consent, married a private Swedish or foreign man’s daughter." The Swedish government clarified the law by saying that "a private Swedish or foreign man’s daughter" as mentioned meant "he who did not belong to a sovereign family or to a family which, according to international practice, would not be equal thereto."
Eventually, Government ministers from both countries signed a treaty, and signified their agreement to the forthcoming wedding on 23rd October 1923. The treaty stated that the Sovereigns of both Sweden and the United Kingdom "judged it proper that an alliance should again be contracted between their respective Royal Houses by a marriage"... and that the couple's financial settlement would be expressed in a separate marriage contract. The treaty was duly exchanged in Stockholm formally on 12th November 1923.
The grown-up children of Louis, 1st Marquess
of Milford Haven
& Victoria, Marchioness
of Milford Haven
of Hesse & By the Rhine) c.1921 - (left to right) Mountbatten; George
(later 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven);
and Princess Alice
of Greece & Denmark)
of Sweden -
Gustaf Adolf of Sweden,
King Gustaf VI Adolf)
A short film (no audio) by Pathé about the wedding of
Lady Louise & Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden
at The Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London in 1923
ABOVE: Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf
of Sweden & Lady Louise following
their wedding at The Chapel Royal,St James's Palace,
London in 1923
LEFT: Mountbatten & Edwina
(Lord & Lady Louis Mountbatten)
at the wedding of his sister Lady Louise and
Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden
in 1923. The Barker Cabriolet
Rolls-Royce in the foreground was
a wedding gift
from Edwina to Mountbatten
the year before in 1922
Louise and Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf were married on 3rd November 1923 in The Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, London. The service was officiated by the The Most Rev & Rt Hon. Randall Davidson, later 1st Lord Davidson of Lambeth (1848-1930), Archbishop of Canterbury and the bride was 'given away' by her elder brother Sir George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven (1892-1938). Despite her original reservations, Louise wore a white long dress designed by 'Mademoiselle Marguerite' of Paris made from a silk sari material sent to her by 'Uncle Ernie' - Grand Duke Ernest Louis of Hesse & By the Rhine (1868-1937). Louise's veil was from a piece of Honiton lace given to her grandmother by Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901), which was also worn by her mother, and her bouquet was made up of lily of the valley flowers. The groom wore the uniform of a Swedish General and the bridesmaids wore dresses in apricot georgette, with the young train bearer David Mountbatten, Earl of Medina, later 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven (1919-1970) wearing an 18th Century "man-o'war" sailor's suit. In his address the Archbishop referred to the groom as - "the honoured and trusted heir to the Throne of a great people. A Prince who has already won his own place in our hearts." About the bride he said she was - "the daughter of a gallant and well-loved man, to whose prescience and firmness and resource England and the Allies of England owe a debt which is not forgotten."
An official photograph following the wedding of Louise & Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden.
The 4 bridesmaids were - Princesses Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie and Sophie of Greece & Denmark;
the train bearers were - David, Earl of Medina & Lady Tatiana Mountbatten;
the best man was - Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland
Amongst the guests were King George V (1865(1910-1936); Queen Mary, formerly Princess Victoria Mary 'May' of Teck (1867-1953); Queen Alexandra, formerly Princess Alexandra 'Alix' of Denmark (1844-1925); King Gustav V of Sweden (1858-1950); Queen Olga of Greece, formerly Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (1851-1926) and Queen Maud of Norway, formerly Princess Maud of Wales (1869-1938); Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939); Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (1883-1981) and Major-General The Rt Hon. Sir Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, formerly Prince Alexander of Teck (1874-1957). After the reception (which was held in the suite of Princess Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg (1857-1944) in Kensington Palace), the new Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Sweden left for a honeymoon starting off for a few days at 'Rest Harrow', in Sandwich, Kent - the home of Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor (1879-1952) and then onto a villa in Florence, Italy. The newlyweds subsequently left on 8th November 1923 for Gothenburg, Sweden.
Upon her marriage, she became 'Crown Princess of Sweden and The Duchess of Scania' with the qualification of Royal Highness. The marriage was a happy love match, Louise got on well with his family and soon became she began to love Sweden, and her people loved her, but sadness soon came to them as their only child, a daughter was stillborn on 30th May 1925. Louise confided in Mrs Nona Kerr Crichton (1875-1960), Lady-in-Waiting to her mother (The Marchioness of Milford Haven) - "I appreciate all the more now what it is to have Gustaf and how lucky I am to have him. He had my love now more than ever, all that I had for my baby I feel I have now also given him."