Children of Berlin: Queen Louise
She was one of the most beautiful, powerful and influential women in Berlin. When she died French emperor Napoleon said the German king ‘lost his best minister’. She was respected by the army and loved by the people of Berlin. During her short life she made an astonishing impression and gave birth to nine children including future emperor Wilhelm (William) I. She died at the aged of 34: Queen Louise (1776-1810).
Before queen Louise’s husband Frederick William III came to power, the wives of the Prussian kings had never been very influential. They led a rather quiet life. When her husband was the new king of Prussia, queen Louise became also very important. She was only 21 years old but gave advice to the king on how to rule and discussed state related matters with ministers. She had already lived in Berlin since 1793 in Stadtschloss, Kronprinzenpalais at Unter den Linden and Charlottenburg Palace.
At that time Germany still consisted of several states, one of the most important was Prussia. The Prussian kings ruled from Berlin. When the French emperor Napoleon conquered large parts of Europe a war between Prussia and France was imminent. A couple of days after the Prussians declared war on France they had already lost (battle of Jena) and Napoleon conquered Berlin and the French took the quadriga of the Brandenburger Tor with them to Paris. The queen and king fled from Berlin.
Private meeting with Napoleon
During the famous peace negotiations (peace of Tilsit, 1807) with Napoleon queen Louise joined her husband. Before she had met Napoleon Louise had called him the monster, but was now willing to meet him. In private. She made a big impression on Napoleon, who wrote to his wife Josephine about how charming Louise was and asked her not to be jealous. Later on he called her the only true man in Prussia.
Her fight for Prussia made her extremely popular. Although she could not spare Prussia from humiliations. Prussia had to pay an enormous amount of money to France. The years after the peace of Tilsit the royal family lived outside of Berlin, they thought it was not safe to return because of the defeat. At last she returned to Berlin with her husband at Charlottenburg palace. She found parts of the place demolished and plundered by Napoleon’s army. She was already sick at that time. Not much later, on the 19th of July 1810 she died during a visit to her father in Strelitz. She was buried in the mausoleum in the beautiful garden of the Charlottenburg Palace.
After her death Louise was celebrated as one of the most important Prussian people that ever lived. She was regarded as a strong Prussian woman who had fought for her people. In the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century nationalism played a very important role in Germany (and Prussia) and she was seen as the ideal German woman. The nazis were also very fond of her. They made her a symbol of what an aryan woman should be like. In schools students were taught to live and behave like Louise. At the same time the nazis saw her husband Frederick William III as an embarrassment, because he didn’t fight Napoleon well enough and would rather settle for peace.