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Princess Louise of Battenberg at Schloss Heiligenberg, Seeheim-Jugenheim, on 13 July 1889 in the Grand Duchy of Hesse and By Rhine. Her father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was Admiral of the Fleet in the United Kingdom, renounced his German title during World War I and anglicised his family name to “Mountbatten” at the behest of King George V. He was then created the first Marquess of Milford Haven in the peerage of the United Kingdom. From 1917, therefore, his daughter was known as “Lady Louise Mountbatten”. Her mother was Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, who was eldest daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and By Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Louise was a sister of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (Last Viceroy of India) and of Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She was also a niece of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia.

Ludwig and Victoria of Battenberg with young Princess Louise.

In 1909, Louise received a proposal from King Manuel II of Portugal. Edward VII was in favour of the match, but Louise declined, as she wished to marry for love. In 1913, having been deposed in 1910, Manuel married Princess Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern in exile, but their marriage was childless. At the age of twenty, Louise became secretly engaged to Prince Christopher of Greece, but they were forced to give up their relationship for financial reasons. While living in exile more than 10 years later, he would wed the wealthy widow, Nancy Stewart Worthington Leeds. After the death of Nancy Leeds Christopher married Princess Françoise d’Orléans in 1929. Princess Françoise d’Orléans was the second daughter of Jean d’Orléans, duc de Guise (an Orléanist pretender to the throne of France under the name Jean III) and his wife, the French Princess Isabelle of Orléans. Françoise’s brother, Prince Henri, Count of Paris, succeeded their father as the Orleanist pretender, under the name Henri VI.

In 1914, the 25 year old Louise and her mother visited Russia, and were invited to a trip down the Volga with their Imperial relatives. During her visit, Louise noted the influence of Rasputin with concern. The trip was interrupted by the sudden outbreak of World War I, and Louise’s father telegraphed for them to return immediately. They stayed in Sweden as guests of the Crown Princely couple (her future husband Crown Prince Gustaf Adolph and his then wife, Margaret of Connaught, who was also her first cousin once removed) at Drottningholm Palace, just one night before they returned to Great Britain.

Lady Louise Mountbatten.

Later during the war, while she volunteered as a nurse in Nevers, she began a relationship with Alexander Stuart-Hill, a Scottish artist living in Paris and they became engaged. Anticipating that her parents would be disappointed in her choice, Louise kept their engagement a secret.

Eventually, she confided in her parents, who were initially understanding, and invited Stuart-Hill for visits at Kent House twice. In fact, her family, referring to him as “Shakespeare” because of his odd appearance, found him “eccentric” and “affected”. Lacking resources, the engaged couple agreed to postpone marriage until after the war. But in 1918 Louise’s father explained to her that Stuart-Hill was most likely homosexual, and that a marriage with him was impossible.

In 1923 Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, having been for three years the widower of Louise’s mother’s cousin Princess Margaret of Connaught, paid a visit to London and, to Louise’s surprise, began to court her. Although as a young woman Louise had said that she would never marry a king or a widower, she accepted the proposal of a man destined to be both. However, under Article 5 of the 1810 Swedish Succession Law, a prince of the Swedish royal house forfeited his right of succession to the throne if he “with or without the King’s knowledge and consent, married a private Swedish or foreign man’s daughter.”

Crown Prince Gustaf Adolph of Sweden with his first wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught and children.

Princess Margaret of Connaught.

Once the couple’s engagement was announced, there were lively discussions in the media about whether the bride-to-be was constitutionally eligible to become Sweden’s future queen. In response the Swedish Foreign Ministry, citing the law in question, clarified the term “a private Swedish or foreign man’s daughter” to mean “he who did not belong to a sovereign family or to a family which, according to international practice, would not be equal thereto” and announced that the Swedish government had “requested the British government’s explanation of Lady Louise Mountbatten’s position in this respect.” The Swedish Court announced that following the British government’s reply to its inquiry and the subsequent investigation into the matter, it had been determined that the Crown Prince’s choice of a future wife was in compliance with the succession law, and that she was of royal lineage, thereby concluding debate on the imminent nuptials.

On 3 November 1923, at age 34, Louise married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace in the presence of King George V and members of both royal families.

Wedding of the Crown Prince of Sweden and Lady Louise Mountbatten.

In 1950, Louise became queen after accession to the throne of her husband. Louise is described as a true democrat at heart, and was therefore somewhat disturbed at being celebrated merely in her capacity of queen. In reference to the attention, she remarked: “People look at me as if I were something special. Surely I do not look differently today from how I looked yesterday!”

Louise disliked the strict pre-World War I protocol at court, retained during her mother-in-law’s era, and reformed it when she became queen, instituting new guidelines in 1954 which democraticised many old customs. In 1962, she abolished the court presentations, replaced them with “democratic ladies’ lunches”, to which she invited professional career women, a custom which was to continue under Princess Sibylla after her death. Louise also renovated and redecorated the interior of the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

King Gustaf VI Adolph of Sweden and Queen Louise of Sweden

Louise was described as eccentric for royalty and temperamental; she could get very angry, but was said to possess a good heart, a great sense of humour, a sense of self irony and was able to distinguish between herself and her royal role. She could show her sympathies openly, and this was taken as a sign of her honesty. One courtier commented, “I would describe the queen as a ‘gentleman’. She would never avoid acknowledging her own mistakes”. Louise is described as a great lover and patriot of her new home country, and was often shocked by Swedish non-patriotic customs. She was a supporter of the political system and democracy in the form it had developed in Sweden and stated her opinion to her relatives that no other political system than the Swedish one had created such a happy development for any nation. Queen Louise also admired Swedish nature and in particular Swedish women, because of what she considered their natural dignity regardless of class, and remarked that she had never seen a country with less vulgarity than Sweden.


Queen Louise’s last official engagement was the Nobel Prize dinner in December of 1964, during which no one noticed that she was in fact already ill. Queen Louise died on 7 March 1965 at Saint Göran Hospital, in Stockholm, Sweden, following emergency surgery after a period of severe illness. Queen Louise is buried beside her husband and his first wife, Crown Princess Margaret, in the Royal Cemetery in Solna north of Stockholm.