Princess Frederica was one of the many daughters of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Princess Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. She was born in Karlsruhe on March 12, 1781, the fourth daughter of the grand ducal couple.
Frederica grew up in an idyllic and happy family life. She and her sisters enjoyed a close and warm relationship with each other, and they were particularly close to their mother. Throughout their adult lives, their correspondence with their mother was incessant, and they always confide in her about their joy and unhappiness, and even the political situation in their respective countries. Amalie was a strong and formidable woman, and she was always sympathetic to her daughters' plight. She gave them valuable advice and kept reminding them that their duties to their respective countries and husbands must be foremost in their minds.
|Portrait of Queen Frederica of Sweden |
by Johan Erik Bolinder.
For the time being, Frederica contented herself with her life in Baden with her mother. But one day, news came to Baden from Sweden that would eventually turn Frederica's fate. She was selected by King Gustav IV Adolf to be his wife.
|King Gustav IV Adolf |
and Queen Frederica.
Gustav came to Germany to personally see Frederica, and they met in Erhfurt. They were married in Stockholm on October 1797, and later settled in Haga Palace, which Frederica really liked. She was quite popular with the people, and she had no difficulty in getting along with her in-laws, especially her mother-in-law, who treated Frederica with great kindness. But she had a difficult time adjusting to the rigid etiquette of the Swedish court, and felt lonely and homesick in the first few years of her marriage. Gustav was very much in love with his wife, and he often exhaust her with his sexual needs. But his behaviour towards her was very formal, especially in the presence of other people.
Frederica gave birth to the couple's first child, Gustav, in 1799, and he was followed by 4 more children: Sophie, Carl Gustav, Amalia, and Cecilia. Like her sister, now the Empress Elizabeth, Frederica kept a detailed correspondence about her life in Sweden to her mother in Baden.
Gustav and Frederica's marriage started off quite well; Frederica genuinely loved her husband despite his difficult character, but differences in their lifestyle and point of view, and not to mention, the tense political situation in Sweden during those times, greatly strained the couple's marriage. Her letters to her sister Elizabeth paints a woman who had to undergo many difficulties in her life in Sweden. But Frederica possessed a very determined character which would be of great use to her in facing her misfortunes in life. Countess Golovina wrote about her: "She was full of wit and ingenuity... Alas! Her destiny, though brilliant, exposed her to great trials, and the crown placed on her head was woven with many thorns."
These words by Countess Golovina perfectly portrayed Frederica's fate as Queen of Sweden. She was a well-liked queen, but Gustav was an unpopular king, and his inept leadership and the failure of his policies caused him and Frederica the throne. In 1809, the King and Queen were deposed by a coup d'etat of army officers. Gustav was arrested and incarcerated in the Castle of Gripsholm, while Frederica and her children were allowed to remain in Haga Palace. In order to ensure his son's succession as the next king, Gustav abdicated, but the Swedish government announced that he and all his descendants were deprived of the right to succeed the Swedish throne. It was a devastating news for Gustav and Frederica. Gustav's uncle was proclaimed as the new king under the name of Charles XIII, thus giving way to another Swedish dynasty, the Bernadottes.
|Queen Frederica in exile. Painted by|
Karl Stieler in 1810.
Gustav, Frederica, and all their children were allowed to leave the country and lived in exile in Germany. They first settled in Baden with Frederica's mother, but Gustav, restless as ever, did not want to remain there. The couple's relationship greatly deteriorated after their exile, and they eventually divorced in 1812. Gustav settled in St. Gallen in Switzerland until his death in 1837, while Frederica and her children settled in Lausanne. Despite her frail health, she travelled extensively under the name Countess of Itterburg. She died in 1826 of heart failure, and was buried in Schloss und Stiftskirche in the small town of Pforzheim, Germany.