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PORTRAIT PAINTING

German artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873)

Sophia Wilhelmina Katharina Maria Lovisa Charlotte Anna of Sweden (1801-1865) - Swedish princess, married the Grand Duchess of Baden. Mother of Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna.

Sofia was born into the family of King Gustav IV of Sweden and his wife Frederica of Baden. Immediately after her birth, the princess was handed over to the governess of the royal children, Hedwig Ulrike De la Gardie.

Sofia was nine years old when her father was dethroned in 1809 and the family had to leave the country. Before being exiled abroad, the royal family was under house arrest. In the diary of Queen Hedwig Charlotte, the princess was described as "a too stubborn young girl who had less self-control than her brother Gustav." The anecdote described the difference in character between a sister and a brother. When Frederica and her children received permission to leave the country in order to meet with the former king abroad, Hans Axel von Fersen came to them to discuss security measures for moving abroad. As he was about to leave, Sophia's older brother went to open the door for him. Former Queen Frederica later wrote in her diary "Sophia would never do something like this in her life, she thinks too highly of herself." In December 1809, Sofia's family left Sweden.

In July 1819, Princess Sophia married her first uncle Prince Leopold of Baden, son of Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden by his second, morganatic marriage to Countess Louise Caroline Geyer. The marriage of Leopold and Sophia was specially organized by her uncle Karl, in the hope that thanks to the marriage with a foreign Princess Leopold will be able to ascend to the throne of Baden. Although Leopold was recognized as a prince, at first he was considered a morganatic offspring and could not inherit the crown of Baden. During the reign of Ludwig I, the Leopold family lived modestly. In 1820, Sofia gave birth to her first child - Alexandrina, in the future Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

In 1830, her husband became the reigning Duke of Baden, and Sophia received the title of Grand Duchess of Baden. The courtiers described Sophia as a wise and obedient wife, but a strict mother. She went to bed late, but got up early and very often wrote letters to her relatives throughout Europe. The Duchess was interested in art, science and politics. She was informed about all political events in Europe. She was in active correspondence with many politicians in Germany.

The Duchess insisted that her sons serve in the Austrian army. Sofia hoped that her brother Gustav would be able to return to Sweden and take the throne, but this never happened. During the 1848 revolution, Sofia was forced to flee with her family from Karlsruhe to Strasbourg. They were able to return back in 1849. In 1852, the Swedish royal house of Bernadotte expressed a desire to make peace with the former dynasty of Sweden, but Princess Sophia strongly rejected any meeting. However, in 1863, Sofia met with the Crown Prince of Sweden Oscar and his wife Sofia. The meeting was successful: Sofia talked a lot with them, asking about how Sweden and especially Stockholm has changed. The princess gave the couple a medallion with the letter G, which meant "Gustav" (the name of her brother and one of the names of King Oscar).

In 1852, Sofia's husband died. The eldest of their sons, Ludwig, who was suffering from mental illness, ascended the throne. He died in 1856. The next son of Sophia, Frederick I, who ruled for more than half a century, was on the throne. She dissuaded him from marrying Baroness Stephanie von Gensau. Subsequently, Frederick married the daughter of the German Emperor Wilhelm I, Princess Louise.

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