Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz : biography
In 1793, Marie Louise took the two youngest duchesses with her to Frankfurt, where she paid her respects to her nephew King Frederick William II.Kluckhohn, p. 7. Louise had grown up into a beautiful young woman, possessing "an exquisite complexion" and "large blue eyes," and was naturally graceful.Knowles Bolton, p. 15. Louise’s uncle, the Duke of Mecklenburg, hoped to strengthen ties between his house and Prussia. Consequently, on one evening carefully planned by the Duke, seventeen-year-old Louise met the king’s son and heir, Crown Prince Frederick William. The crown prince was twenty-three, serious-minded, and religious.Kluckhohn, p. 11. She made such a charming impression on Frederick William that he immediately made his choice, desiring to marry her.Kluckhohn, p. 8. Frederica caught the eye of his younger brother Prince Louis Charles, and the two families began planning a double betrothal, celebrating a month later, on 24 April 1793 in Darmstadt. Frederick and Louise were subsequently married on 24 December that same year, with Louis and Frederica marrying two days later.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 10 March 1776 – 24 December 1793: Her Serene Highness Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg, Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
- 24 December 1793 – 16 November 1797: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Prussia
- 16 November 1797 – 19 July 1810: Her Majesty The Queen of Prussia
Queen consort of Prussia 1797–1810
On 16 November 1797, her husband succeeded to the throne of Prussia as King Frederick William III after the death of his father. Louise wrote to her grandmother, "I am now queen, and what rejoices me most is the hope that now I need no longer count my benefactions so carefully."Quoted in Kluckhohn, p. 13. The couple had to abandon their solitude at Paletz and begin living under the restraints of a royal court. They began a tour of the country’s eastern provinces for two purposes: the king wanted to acquaint himself with their new subjects, and despite the unusualness of a consort accompanying the king further than the capital, Frederick William wanted to introduce the queen as well to their people.Hudson (2005b), p. 1. Louise was received everywhere with festivities. For the first time in Prussian history, the queen emerged as a celebrated public personality in her own right, as she occupied a much more prominent role than her predecessors. Louise’s presence on her husband’s eastern journey was a break from the traditional role of the consort – importantly however the queen’s power and enduring legacy did not stem from holding a separate court and policy than her husband’s, but rather the opposite: she subordinated her formidable intelligence and skill for her husband’s sole advantage.Clark, pp. 317–18. She also became a fashion icon, for instance starting a trend by wearing a neckerchief to keep from getting ill.Clark, p. 317.
After her husband’s accession, Louise developed many ties to senior ministers and became a powerful figure within the government as she began to command universal respect and affection.Clark, pp. 299, 317. The queen went out of her way to stay informed about political developments at court, and from the very beginning of his reign the new king consulted Louise on matters of state.Clark, p. 217. Frederick William was hesitant and cautious, and hated war, stating in 1798, "I abhor war and… know of nothing greater on earth than the preservation of peace and tranquility as the only system suited to the happiness of human kind".Clark, pp. 298–99. In keeping with the later foreign policy of his father’s, Frederick William favored neutrality during the early years of the conflict with the revolutionary French First Republic, which evolved into the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15); he refused the various pressures to pick a side in the War of the Second Coalition. Louise supported this view, warning that if Prussia were to side with the coalition powers of Austria, Great Britain, and Russia, it would lead to dependence on the latter power for military support.Clark, p. 299. She foresaw that because Prussia was by far the weakest of the great powers, and it would not have been able to ensure it benefited from the results of such an alliance. French aggression caused the king to eventually consider entering the wars, but his indecision prevented him from choosing a side, either France or the coalition powers. He consulted the many differing opinions of Queen Louise and his ministers, and was eventually compelled into an alliance with Napoleon, who was recently victorious from the Battle of Austerlitz (1805).Clark, pp. 301–02.