Berlin, Emperor Peter the Great, Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, Friedrich-Ludwig of Prussia, Gambling, King Friedrich I of Prussia, King George II of Great Britain, Princess Philippine-Charlotte of Prussia, Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Crown Princess in Prussia
Sophia-Dorothea was described as tall, with a beautiful slender figure, graceful and dignified with big blue eyes. Though not regarded as strictly beautiful, she was seen as quite attractive at the time of her marriage and described as charming in her manners, making a good impression in Berlin. Friedrich-Wilhelm often called her “Fiekchen”.
Sophia-Dorothea and Friedrich-Wilhelm differed from each other in every aspect and the marriage suffered as a result. Sophia-Dorothea was interested in art, science, literature and fashion, while Friedrich-Wilhelm was described as an unpolished, uneducated and spartan military man with rough manners. Though he was never unfaithful to her, he was unable to win her affection. One of the most important differences between them was that Sophia-Dorothea, unlike her husband, loved entertainment, something he regarded to be frivolous.
Friedrich-Wilhelm contemplated divorcing her the same year they married and, judging by her letters, accused her of not wanting to be married to him. According to Morgenstern, “He had none of that astonishing complaisance by which lovers, whether husbands or friends, seek to win the favor of the beloved object.
As far as can be gathered from the words he occasionally let drop, the crossing of his first love might have been the innocent cause of this; and as the object of this passion, by the directions of her mother and grandmother, treated him with harshness, where, then, could he learn to make love?”
The birth of her firstborn son, Friedrich-Ludwig, in 1707 was celebrated greatly in Prussia, and Sophia-Dorothea successfully asked the king to liberate the imprisoned minister Eberhard von Danckelmann.
In 1708, after the death of her firstborn son, the physicians declared that Sophia-Dorothea was not likely to conceive again, which prompted the remarriage of her father-in-law. However, she gave birth to 14 children in all and 10 of them survived into adulthood.
Queen of Prussia
In 1713, her father-in-law King Friedrich I died and was succeeded by her spouse Friedrich-Wilhelm I, making her Queen in Prussia.
Friedrich-Wilhelm I, King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg
At the time of the accession, Prussia was at war with Sweden, and Sophia-Dorothea accompanied Friedrich-Wilhelm during the campaign of 1715, though she soon returned to Berlin to give birth to her daughter, Princess Philippine-Charlotte of Prussia. During the war, the king left directions to his ministers to consult her and take no action without her approval in the case of emergency.
In 1717, she hosted Emperor Peter I the Great of Russia on his visit to Berlin at her own palace Monbijou, as per the king’s request, which was vandalized as a result. Sophia-Dorothea’s first favorite was her maid of honor, von Wagnitz, who was dismissed after an intrigue in which Kreutz and her mother tried to make her the king’s mistress, as well as being a spy of the French ambassador Rothenburg.
Queen Sophia-Dorothea was admired for her gracious manners and nicknamed “Olympia” for her regal bearing, but scarred by smallpox and overweight with time, she was not called a beauty. She was known as extremely haughty, proud, and ambitious, but Friedrich-Wilhelm greatly disliked her interference in politics, as it was his belief that women should be kept only for breeding, and kept submissive as they would otherwise dominate their husbands.
Friedrich-Wilhelm viewed her interests in theater, dancing, jewelry and music as frivolous and resented any sign of her living a life independently from his authority: he particularly disliked her interest in gambling, and it is reported that she and her partners would have coffee beans ready on the table during gambling, so that if the king appeared, they could pretend to be playing with them rather than money.
On one occasion, the queen took the opportunity of the king being ill to host a ball at Monbijou with dancing and music, and where she herself gambled while wearing her diamond set. When the king suddenly arrived, the dancing and music stopped immediately, and the queen unclasped her jewelst and hid them in her pocket. His manner toward her was described as rough and so noted that when he displayed the opposite, it was seen as a surprise.
King George II of Great Britain
Upon the death of her mother in 1726, Sophia-Dorothea inherited a sum of three million pounds whereupon it attracted attention that Friedrich-Wilhelm suddenly treated her very well: the Imperial ambassador reported that this was merely because he wanted her money, and when she never received it (as her brother King George II of Great Britain refused to release the sum), Friedrich-Wilhelm resumed his usual abusive manner toward her. For her part, Sophia-Dorothea did not have a high opinion of the king’s military interest or skill, and at one occasion, when he spoke disparagingly of the English commanders retorted: “No doubt they must wish to give you the command of their army.”