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Carl XV (Carl Ludvig Eugen) (May 3, 1826 – September 18 1872) was King of Sweden as Carl XV and King of Norway (He was proclaimed as King Carl XV of Norway but in recent times he has been referred to accurately as Carl IV) from 1859 until his death. Though known as King Carl XV in Sweden (and also on contemporary Norwegian coins), he was actually the ninth Swedish king by that name, as his predecessor Carl IX (reigned 1604–1611) had adopted a numeral according to a fictitious history of Sweden. Carl XV was the third Swedish monarch of the House of Bernadotte.

Parents

He was born in Stockholm Palace, Stockholm in 1826 and dubbed Duke of Scania at birth. Born the eldest son of Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden and his wife Crown Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg, the first of six children of Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg (1781 – 1824), and his wife, Princess Augusta of Bavaria (1788 – 1851). Her paternal grandmother and namesake was Joséphine Tascher de La Pagerie, the first wife of Napoleon: she was given the name ‘Joséphine’ by Napoleon’s request. Princess Augusta of Bavaria was the second child and eldest daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt.

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King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway

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Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg

At his birth Prince Carl of Sweden would be second in line to the throne of his grandfather, the ruling King Carl XIV Johan of Sweden. During his childhood he was placed in the care of the royal governess countess Christina Ulrika Taube. When he was just 15, he was given his first officer’s commission in 1841 by his grandfather the king.

Crown Prince

The aging King Carl XIV Johan would suffer a stroke on his 81st birthday in 1844, dying little more than a month later. His successor would be his son, Carl’s father Oscar, who ascended the throne as King Oscar I of Sweden. Upon his father’s accession to the throne in 1844, the young Carl was made a chancellor of the universities of Uppsala and Lund, and in 1853 chancellor of Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. On February 11, 1846 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

On June 19, 1850 Crown Prince Carl married in Stockholm Princess Louise of the Netherlands, daughter of Prince Frederik of the Netherlands, and his wife Princess Louise of Prussia. Prince Frederik of the Netherlands was the second son of King Willem I of the Netherlands and his wife, Wilhelmine of Prussia. Princess Louise of the Netherlands’ mother, also named Louise, was the eighth child of King Friedrich-Wilhelm III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

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Princess Louise of the Netherlands

Further, Princess Louise of the Netherlands was a niece of King Willem II of the Netherlands through her father and niece of German Emperor Wilhelm I, through her mother.

The couple were personally quite dissimilar; Louise was a cultured and refined woman, however, she was considered to be quite plain and Crown Prince Carl was disappointed with her appearance. Louise was in love with her husband, whereas he preferred other women, saddening her deeply. His well-known mistresses included the actress Laura Bergnéhr, the countess Josephine Sparre, Wilhelmine Schröder and the actresses Hanna Styrell and Elise Hwasser, and the Crown Prince neglected his shy wife. On the other hand, his relationship to his only daughter, Louise, was warm and close.

In 1872, Carl XV had controversial plans to divorce Queen Louise and enter a non-morganatic marriage with the Polish countess Marya Krasińska through the assistance of Ohan Demirgian, plans that aroused opposition both in the royal house and government and which were interrupted only by his death.

The Crown Prince was Viceroy of Norway briefly in 1856 and 1857. In the 1850s, King Oscar I’s health began to rapidly deteriorate, becoming paralyzed in 1857. Crown Prince Carl became Regent on September 25, 1857, and king on the death of his father at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on July 8, 1859. As grandson of Augusta of Bavaria, he was a descendant of Gustaf I of Sweden and Carl IX of Sweden, whose blood returned to the throne after being lost in 1818 when Carl XIII of Sweden died.

When he was Crown Prince, Carl’s’ brusque manner led many to regard his future accession with some apprehension, yet he proved to be one of the most popular of Scandinavian kings and a constitutional ruler in the best sense of the word. His reign was remarkable for its manifold and far-reaching reforms. Sweden’s existing municipal law (1862), ecclesiastical law (1863) and criminal law (1864) were enacted appropriately enough under the direction of a king whose motto was: Land skall med lag byggas – “With law shall the land be built”. Carl also helped Louis De Geer to carry through his reform of the Parliament of Sweden in 1866. He also declared the freedom of women by passing the law of legal majority for unmarried women in 1858 – his sister Princess Eugenie became the first woman who was declared mature.

Carl XV, like his father Oscar I, was an advocate of Scandinavianism and the political solidarity of the three northern kingdoms, and his friendship with Frederik VII of Denmark, it is said, led him to give half promises of help to Denmark on the eve of the war of 1864, which, in the circumstances, were perhaps misleading and unjustifiable. In view, however, of the unpreparedness of the Swedish army and the difficulties of the situation, Carl XV was forced to observe a strict neutrality.

He died in Malmö on September 18, 1872. aged 46. He was followed on the thrones of both Norway and Sweden by his brother Oscar II.

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King Oscar II of Sweden

Issue

By his wife, Louise of the Netherlands, Carl had two children, a son, Prince Carl Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland who died in infancy and a daughter, Louise, who married the King Frederik VIII of Denmark. The early death of his only legitimate son meant that he was succeeded on the throne of Sweden by his younger brother Oscar II.

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Prince Carl Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland

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Princess Louise of the Netherlands, Queen Consort of Denmark

Carl XV also sired an illegitimate son, Carl Johan Bolander, (February 4, 1854 – July 28, 1903) and daughter, Ellen Svensson Hammar (October 28, 1865 – 1931) and it has been widely rumored that he had many more extramarital children.

No subsequent King of Sweden to this day is a descendant of King Carl XV. However, his descendants through his daughter Louise, are, or have been, on the thrones of Denmark, Luxembourg, Greece, Belgium and Norway.

A few weeks before Carl XV’s death, his daughter Louise (then the Crown Princess of Denmark) gave birth to her second son. The young Prince of Denmark became christened as grandfather Carl XV’s namesake. In 1905 this grandson, Prince Carl of Denmark, ascended the throne of Norway, becoming thus his maternal grandfather’s successor in that country, and assumed the reign name Haakon VII. The present king, Harald V of Norway, is Carl XV’s great-great-grandson, through his father and mother.