Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden, Grand Duke Leopold of Baden, Grand Duke Ludwig II of Baden, House of Bernadotte, House of Holstein-Gottorp, Karlsruhe, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway, King Oscar II of Sweden, Prince Sophie of Sweden, Princess Victoria of Baden, Stéphanie de Beauharnais
In 1815, Princess Sophie of Sweden was engaged, and on 25 July 1819 in Karlsruhe, Sophie married her half-grand-uncle Prince Leopold of Baden, the son of a morganatic marriage. The marriage with Leopold had been specifically arranged by her uncle, Grand Duke Charles I of Baden, to improve the chances that Leopold would one day succeed him as grand duke because of Sophie’s royal lineage.
Princess Sophie of Sweden
Since Sophie was a granddaughter of Leopold’s oldest half-brother, Hereditary Prince Charles-Ludwig, this marriage united the descendants of his father’s (Grand Duke Charles-Friedrich) two wives. Sophie’s undoubted royal blood would help to offset the stigma of Leopold’s morganatic birth.
During the reign of Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden, they lived a modest life away from court, as Ludwig did not want the heir to the throne at court. In 1830, her husband ascended to the grand ducal throne as Leopold I, and Sophie became Grand Duchess of Baden.
Sophie is described as wise and dutiful but strict. She kept late hours and arose late in the mornings, after which she spent hours writing letters to various relatives around Europe in her négligée. She was interested in science, art and politics, and kept herself well informed on all political events of the day through her correspondence.
Her ties to the Viennese court were particularly tight, and it was to Vienna her sons were sent to complete their education. Sophie retained a certain bitterness over the deposition of her father, and took it very badly when her brother was deprived of his status as a Swedish prince.
Prince Gustaf, Crown Prince of Sweden
Princess Sophie’s brother, Prince Gustaf, Crown Prince of Sweden and later called Gustaf Gustafsson von Holstein-Gottorp (1799-1877); was not haughty as his younger sister Princess Sophie, but humble. Rather, he seemed too quiet and too careful for his age. When Princess Sophie asked him why their father was no longer King, he told her that it was best not to talk about it.
He asked no questions and did not appear to miss his father. After he was told that his father had been deposed, he acted embarrassed towards his mother. However, when she told him that he too had lost his position as heir, he cried and embraced her without a word. The announcement that he wouldn’t become King of Sweden gave him much relief and happiness.
In 1816, Prince Gustaf assumed the title of Count of Itterburg. Prince Gustaf served as an officer to the Habsburgs of Austria, and in 1829, Emperor Franz I created him Prince of Vasa. During the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) there was some talk of Prince Gustaf becoming its first king, but this never materialized.
The Case of Kaspar Hauser
Kaspar Hauser (c.1812-1833) was a German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell.
According to contemporary rumours, probably current as early as 1829, Kaspar Hauser was the Hereditary Prince of Baden who was born circa September 1812, and who, according to known history, died October 16, 1833. It was alleged that this prince was switched with a dying baby and subsequently surfaced 16 years later as Kaspar Hauser in Nuremberg.
In this case, his parents would have been Grand Duke Charles of Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais, cousin by marriage and adopted daughter of Napoleon, Emperor of the French. Because Grand Duke Charles had no surviving male progeny, his successor was his uncle Ludwig, who was later succeeded by his half-brother, Leopold. Leopold’s mother, the Countess of Hochberg, was the alleged culprit of Kaspar Hauser’s captivity. The Countess was supposed to have disguised herself as a ghost, the “White Lady”, when kidnapping the prince. Her motive evidently would have been to secure the succession for her sons.
Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Grand Duchess of Baden
After Hauser’s death, it was claimed further that he was murdered, again because of his being the prince.
During the tumult caused by the appearance of Kaspar Hauser, Sophie was rumoured to have ordered Hauser’s assassination in 1833. This damaged her relationship to her husband, and Sophie was said to have had an affair. During the revolutions that swept across Europe the summer of 1848, she was forced to flee from Karlsruhe with her family to Strasbourg. They returned in 1849, after the revolt had been subdued by Prussian forces. She became a widow when her husband, Grand Duke Leopold, April 24, 1852 died in Karlsruhe.
Grand Duke Leopold was succeeded by his eldest son with Princess Sophie, as Grand Duke Ludwig II of Baden. His brother Friedrich acted as regent, because Ludwig suffered from mental illness. However, in 1856, Friedrich became Grand Duke as well after the death of Grand Duke Ludwig II.
Friedrich I, Grand Duke of Baden
While he served as regent for his brother, his mother, Grand Duchess Sophie convinced her son Friedrich to enter an arranged dynastic marriage rather than a marriage to his love, Baroness Stephanie von Gensau. Grand Duke Friedrich I eventually married Princess Louise of Prussia the second child and only daughter of German Emperor Wilhelm I and Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. She was the younger sister of Friedrich III of Germany (“Fritz”) and aunt of Wilhelm II of Germany.
In 1852, the Swedish royal house wished to make peace with the deposed Swedish royal house, and King Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg tried to arrange a meeting, but without success, with resistance coming from Grand Duchess Sophie.
In 1863, however, Sophie met the Swedish heir presumptive Prince Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Östergötland, and future King Oscar II of Sweden and his consort Sophie of Nassau. Prince Oscar was from the House of Bernadotte the dynasty that replaced Princess Sophie’s family. The meeting was a success: Sophie asked him about how the Stockholm of her childhood had changed, and when they left, she presented the couple with a gift to their son prince Gustaf, a medallion with the inscription “G” and the crown of the Swedish Crown Prince, because he had the same name as her brother.
Grand Duchess Sophie of Baden. Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
In 1864, Sophie was interviewed by an unnamed Swedish writer, an interview which was published in her biography about famous Swedish women by Wilhelmina Stålberg (who was likely the unnamed writer in question):
She particularly remembered Haga Palace and Stockholm Royal Palace, the latter so well that, if she should ever see it again, she would have the ability to find her way in any part of the palace. I asked, if she should not make a visit to her childhood home. There had been rumours in Sweden that she had the wish to do so, and that she had written about it to King Oscar, who had assured her of a kind welcome. The Grand Duchess disregarded the rumour as “completely unfounded”. She had never had a serious plan to visit Sweden, despite the fact that she often longed for it. Especially during spring she always felt a strange melancholic longing for her childhood home. But to travel there was now too late for her. This she uttered with a tearful glimmer in her big blue eyes. In any case, a true smile seemed uncharacteristic for this not-really-beautiful but very interesting face. As for the latest Swedish literature, she did read it, but all in translation, “Because”, she said, “I can no longer remember the Swedish language well enough to speak or read it in person. I can however understand it spoken, and my prayers are in Swedish!”
Dowager Grand Duchess Sophie, former Princess Sophie died at Karlsruhe Palace on July 6, 1865, aged 64.
Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway and Princess Victoria of Baden
Through Grand Duchess Sophie’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Baden, the blood of the Holstein-Gottorp Dynasty returned to the Swedish Royal Family. Princess Victoria’s father was Sophie’s son, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden, and his wife Princess Louise of Prussia. On September 20, 1881 in Karlsruhe, Princess Victoria married Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway, the son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway and Sofia of Nassau.
December 8, 1907 King Oscar II of Sweden died and the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden became King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria of Sweden. This makes the former Princess Sophie of Sweden the great-great-great grandmother of Sweden’s current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf.