By Sarah A. Tooley
Queen Louise of Denmark is, in her own right, the richest Queen-consort in Europe, but, in spite of her great wealth, she has very simple tastes, cares nothing for display, and preserves the same quiet homely Court in Copenhagen which the late King and Queen inaugurated.
Her Majesty's ancestry is extremely interesting, for she is descended from the famous General Bernadotte, a soldier of fortune under Napoleon, but with a more scrupulous character than his master. Bernadotte was made Prince Royal of Sweden in 1810, and eventually became King of Norway and Sweden, and founded a new dynasty, which has given admirable rulers to the kingdom. He married the beautiful Desiree Clary, of Marseilles, who fascinated Louis Napoleon, but preferred to give her hand to Bernadotte, and who died Queen of Norway and Sweden. Their son succeeded as Charles XV.
The Queen of Denmark is the only daughter of Charles XV., from whom she inherited a portion of her wealth, which was augmented by a fortune left to her by her maternal grandfather, Prince Frederick of the Netherlands.
She was born at Stockholm, October 31st, 1851, and was married, in that same beautiful capital of her father's kingdom, when she was a tall, fair girl of eighteen, to Frederick, the Crown Prince of Denmark, the brother of Queen Alexandra. He was some ten years older than his bride, and, it was said, had purposely remained a bachelor until the young Princess Louise of Sweden should be of marriageable age. The match had been greatly desired, too, by his parents and the people of Denmark.
A Homely Queen
It was only a short voyage for the young bride across the blue waters of the Sound to her husband's country. The change was scarcely like going to a foreign land, for the same religion and customs prevailed, and the language was similar. She found a second mother in Queen Louise of Denmark, whose two elder daughters had gone to fill great positions in England and Russia, and in later years she became the solace of the Queen's declining years.
The future Queen filled the position of Crown Princess for thirty-seven years with great success. She was popular with the people, proved a very devoted wife and mother, was thoroughly domestic in her tastes, and always ready to help forward religious and charitable work. Throughout her long reign as Crown Princess she ably supported the late Queen in fostering works of benevolence in Copenhagen. She is fond of sketching in water-colours, and sometimes sold her pictures to help charitable objects. She also did embroideries for church decoration. Above everything, she desired to set an example to the young girls of Denmark by showing a personal interest in cookery and household management, and permitted girls to come for instruction to her kitchen at the Amalienborg Palace.
I remember on one occasion, when dining at a country inn near Copenhagen, mine host came into the room, bearing aloft a delicious "trifle," which he handed to the guests with the triumphant announcement: "As made in the kitchen of the Crown Princessen." It transpired that his wife had been one of those privileged to take cookery lessons at the Palace.
The Danish people are chiefly agriculturists, and the greater part of the country belongs to freehold farmers. The country is famed for its dairy produce, and the Queen has taken every opportunity of encouraging the wives and daughters of Denmark to keep to the homely, peaceful avocations which have made the country prosperous. Excellent technical instruction is given to girls and boys alike in the public schools throughout the land. Few Danish people are wealthy, but all classes seem to have enough for their needs, and leisure to acquire knowledge and cultivate the graces of life.
Since the war over the Schleswig-holstein provinces, which disturbed the country on* the accession of the late King, in 1863, Denmark has kept free from European complications. She watches the race for the building of Dreadnoughts with perfect equanimity. The rulers of this contented, peaceful country live in ease and security, and, unlike almost every other Queen-consort in Europe, Louise of Denmark has never known the horrors and distress of a people in time of war or the terrors of revolution.
The Queen's life has glided happily along with but little more public care than that of a private lady. Eight sons and daughters have grown up around her, and only two now remain unmarried. Her second son, Charles, the husband of our own Princess Maud, was chosen King of Norway when that country decided to separate its destinies from those of Sweden. This gave peculiar pleasure to the Queen, for not only did it give a kingdom to her son, but it provided an amicable settlement for the kingdom of her birth. Throughout history, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have coquetted with each other. In the distant past they formed one great kingdom; then Norway and Sweden sought independence of Denmark, and now all three countries have settled down under kings of their own, and Queen Louise is a happy and sympathetic link between them. Herself born a princess of Sweden and Norway, she married the heir of Denmark, and now her son rules Norway and her nephew Sweden.
The Queen has passed an ideally happy married life. The King is a genial, domestic man who follows the peaceful traditions of his father. He was trained to be a soldier, and as Crown Prince devoted himself very much to his profession. As a young man he might often have been seen riding on the public car to attend his classes at the Military Academy. Both the King and Queen walk freely in the streets of Copenhagen without attracting public attention. The Queen shops in Bredgarde with the freedom of any other lady, walks with her grandchildren on the promenade by the harbour, or visits places of public interest without formality.