Louise Alexandra Marie Irene was born on July 13, 1889 at the Heiligenberg in Darmstadt. Her parents were Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, and Prince Louis of Battenberg, son of Princess Battenberg.
She was the second of four children: Alice (mother of the present Duke of Edinburgh), George Milford Haven, and Louis (Earl Mountbatten of Burma). She was born prematurely and in her memoirs, her mother described her as 'a rather miserable little object, and the nickname "shrimp" which Louis then gave her remained attached to her during her childhood.' As a result of her premature birth she would suffer frail health for most of her life. She was christened at the Heiliegenberg on August 9, 1889 and confirmed on May 16, 1905.
Like her sister, Louise became a nurse during the Balkan War in Nevers, France. While there she met a Scottish artist named Alexander Stuart-Hill, who Louise's family nickhamed Shakespeare because of a resemblance. She was briefly engaged to him but the plans came to nothing when it was discovered that he was homosexual. With the end of this engagement, Louise, at twenty-five, resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood.
On July 14, 1917, her parents renounced their German titles and Louise became Lady Louise Mountbatten. In 1923, at the age of thirty-four, Louise became engaged to the widowed Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden who had five children. They were married in the Chapel Royal in London on November 3, 1923. The couple had one child, a stillborn daughter born on May 30th 1925. Despite this tragedy, their marriage was a happy one.
She became Queen of Sweden on October 29 1950. She took to this role with modesty, 'I just can't get over people calling me your majesty.' At the funeral of King George VI, the Queen of Sweden's car was announced and Louise did not recognize it was for her. When she went shopping in London, in case she was run over and nobody knew who she was, she placed a card in her purse announcing: 'I am the Queen of Sweden.'
In December 1964 she suffered a heart attack, recovered but died on March 7th 1965 after an operation to remove a blot clot in the main artery of her heart. She is buried in the Royal graveyard at Haga.
© Marilyn Braun 2006
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