Swedish Royal Wedding: A Profile of the Last Duchess of Värmland

  June 8, 2015 at 9:00 am by

When she marries Prince Carl Philip on Saturday, Sofia Hellqivst will become the Duchess of Värmland. In the lead-up to the wedding, the TRF Blog has profiled the last woman who held that title, Victoria of Baden.

Princess Victoria of Baden with her mother, Louise of Prussia

Princess Victoria of Baden with her mother, Louise of Prussia

Born on August 7, 1862 in Karlsruhe, Princess Victoria was the only daughter of Friedrich I, Grand Duke of Baden and Princess Louise of Prussia. She had two brothers, Friedrich II and Prince Ludwig. The Princess was a keen painter, a hobby which evolved into photography as she grew older.

At the age of nineteen, she married the heir to the Swedish-Norwegian throne, Gustaf, on September 20, 1881. Their marriage was popular with both the Swedes and the Germans, being seen as strengthening relations between the two countries. That Victoria was a descendant of the House of Vasa, the house that ruled Sweden prior to the Bernadottes, added to her initial popularity and earned her the nickname ‘The Vasa Princess’ in her adopted country.

King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria of Sweden

King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to three children – the future Gustaf VI Adolf, Prince Wilhlem and Prince Erik – in the first decade of her marriage, each of her pregnancies taking a toll on her already delicate health. She was unable to cope with the harsh Swedish winters and spent every winter from 1882 (when she had postpartum depression) onwards out of the country, usually in Italy on the island of Capri or, later as her health declined, in Rome at her residence, Villa Svezia. Spending so much time outside of Sweden heavily impacted on Victoria’s popularity, the Swedish people finding her behaviour haughty.

Queen Victoria in the uniform of her Prussian regiment

Queen Victoria in the uniform of her Prussian regiment

Her popularity also suffered during the First World War (by this stage she had become Queen of Sweden, upon the death of her father-in-law, Oscar II, in 1907), when she was seen as too pro-German for many Swedes’ liking – the Queen was even a honorary Prussian colonel. Queen Victoria, holding strong conservative values and ideals, disliked the modern style of government and tried to influence King Gustaf during Sweden’s neutrality, pressing him to support Germany and the Central Powers. The Queen kept in close contact with her first cousin, the German Kaiser, throughout the war and even gave personal gifts to Swedes who signed up to join the German army.

As her ailments became more frequent, Queen Victoria spent less and less time in Sweden after the end of the War. She made her final trip to Sweden in 1928 to celebrate her husband’s 70th birthday, but Victoria did not appear in public. On April 4, 1930 she died at Villa Svezia, with King Gustaf and Prince Wilhelm at her bedside. Her body was returned to Sweden via train through her native Germany and then aboard a warship across the Baltic. She was buried at the Riddarholm Church.

Filed under Germany, Historical Royals, Sweden
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