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Princess Sophia Albertina of Sweden.
  Swedish Royalty
  House of Holstein-Gottorp
Adolf Frederick
   Gustav III
   Charles XIII
   Prince Frederick Adolf
   Princess Sophia Albertine
Gustav III
   Gustav IV Adolf
   Carl Gustav, Duke of Småland
Gustav IV Adolf
   Gustav, Prince of Vasa
   Carl Gustav, Grand Duke of Finland
   Sofia Wilhelmina, Grand Duchess of Baden
   Princess Amalia Maria Charlotta
   Princess Cecilia
Grandchildren include:
   Princess Carola
Charles XIII

Sophia Maria Lovisa Fredrika Albertina (German: Sophie Marie Luise Friederike Albertine) (Stockholm, 8 October/18 October 1753 – Stockholm, 17 March 1829) was a Swedish royal Princess, daughter of king Adolf Frederick of Sweden and Louisa Ulrika of Prussia. She thus was a princess of Sweden and a princess of Holstein-Gottorp. She was also a Protestant Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg Abbey and a vassal monarch of the German-Roman Empire. She was a member of the Accademia di San Luca.

She was given her two names as namesake of her two grandmothers: Sophia Dorothea, Queen in Prussia (daughter of George I of Great Britain) and Luisa Albertina Fredrike, Princess of Holstein-Gottorp-Eutin.



Sophia Albertina was given the title of Coadjutrix in the German Roman Quedlinburg Abbey in 1767. She was interested in dancing and acting, though she was not considered very talented within these fields, and participated in the amateur theatre at court. She was also interested in riding and hunting and had at least thirteen named dogs as pets. She was also made Watercolor painting, embroidery and some rather nasty caricatures; during a visit to Rome in 1793, she was inducted to the Accademia di San Luca.

Her adult life took place during the reigns of her brother Gustav III of Sweden and later his son Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. She and her youngest brother, Prince Frederik Adolph of Sweden, was very close, and also the favourites of their mother. They took their mother's side during the great conflict between Gustav and their mother in 1778-82, years during which Sophia Albertina spent most of her time at her mother's court.

Gown of Princess Sofia Albertina, circa 1800.

Although not described as either beautiful or intelligent, she played an active part in the ceremonial court life of her brother, as one of her younger brothers was not married, and after her mother's death in 1782 she was an eager participant in the vivacious pleasures of the court despite her lack of beauty. In Stockholm, a palace was built as her residence, known today as Arvfurstens Palats.

Early on there were plans for a possible marriage. In 1772, her brother, King Gustav, had the idea of letting his younger siblings provide an heir to the throne, as his own marriage was childless, and both Sophia Albertina and her brother Charles was considered with this task. Among the candidates considered was her cousin Prince Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince Bishop of Lübeck, and Stanisław August Poniatowski was also mentioned, but nothing came of it. In 1774, Charles was married instead. Sophia Albertina was sometimes called The Princess with the ice heart. However, there was a well known legend among the people of Stockholm which indicated that she was not excluded from having a love life; she was said to have given birth to a daughter sometime in 1785/86, named Sophia after herself and fathered by the count Fredrik Vilhelm von Hessenstein, son of King Frederick I of Sweden and his mistress Hedvig Taube. The gossip also suggested that the father of the child was Gustav Badin, called "Couschi" , the black servant-butler (originally a slave) of her mother, whom Sofia Albertina had "inherited" after her mother's death, but the child was not mixed race, so this was probably not true. The place for the birth was to have been Allmänna Barnbördshuset, a public hospital, where women were allowed to give birth with their faces covered by a mask to preserve their anonymity. The daughter was fostered away from Sophia, but she arranged for her to be married off as an adult to a wealthy merchant. This story has never been confirmed, so it may not be true. But it is repeated from many unofficial sources in much the same way, and if it was true, it would not be confirmed anyway - either way, it is not impossible. Her brother, the king, was said to be informed about this, and the sexual morals of the court were free and liberal; her brother Gustav III had given permission to the ladies of the court to receive male guests in their bed chambers, which had never been allowed before. Sophia Albertina wished to marry Hessenstein, but king Gustav said no because of the mother of Hessenstein, Hedvig Taube, had been a royal mistress.

Sofia Albertina did not like to see women be treated badly, and often intervened when she considered a woman at court to have been insulted or in any way badly treated. She paid much attention to Lolotte Forssberg, a woman said to have been her own illegitimate half-sister and whom she employed as her lady-in-waiting. The gossip later suggested that Lolotte was the daughter of Sophia Albertina and Hessenstein. However, it was in fact not the same woman, as Lolotte was born in 1766. Sophia Albertina did love Lolotte, married her to a noble and even tried to get her acknowledged as her halfsister, and when she died, Lolotte was one of her greatest heirs. Another well-known person of the time, Magdalena Rudenschöld, known for her involvement in the Armfelt conspiracy, was also among her ladies-in-waiting.

The year after the secret birth is said to have taken place, she became the Abbess of Quedlinburg Abbey, a Protestant convent of women in Germany, and as such was the Princess-Abbess and the head of a small German state directly under the Holy Roman Empire 1787-1803 until finally deposed. She had received the titular position of "Coadjutrix" there already in 1767. When she ascended to the post, she received an offer from the king of Prussia, who wished to "relieve" her from the position by buying the realm of Quedlingburg from her and annexing it to Prussia, but she declined the offer by saying that she was sure that he was not serious. She traveled to Quedlinburg in 1787, made her oath as abbess 15 October 1787 and remained there for three years, after which she returned to Sweden, where she spent the rest of her life, though she often visited her realm in Quedlinburg, where she was quite liked. As Princess-Abbess, she was active in the rule of the city of Quedlinburg; she founded schools for poor children, built the first theatre in the city and encreased the salary of vicars. When, on the dissolution of the foundation, she was deposed, she received the income from the abbey for the rest of her life. Gossip pointed out Quedlinburg as a place where noblewomen went to give birth to their illegitimate children in secret.

She remained unmarried. She was not close to the new dynasty, but during her last years, she spent much time with the crown prince couple. She was well aware of her position as "the last of the Vasa dynasty". She was active in the ceremonies of the royal court until her death and was given much respect in etiquette during the reign of Bernadotte: in 1823, she placed the bridal crown on the head of Josephine of Leuchtenberg in the wedding of the crown prince in Stockholm, and in 1826, she was a witness of the birth of the future king Charles XV of Sweden, and had the task to inform the king of the birth and the gender of the newborn.


16. Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
8. Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
17. Marie Elisabeth of Saxony
4. Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin
18. Frederick III of Denmark
9. Frederikke Amalie of Denmark
19. Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
2. Adolf Frederick of Sweden
20. Friedrich VI, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
10. Frederick VII, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
21. Christine Magdalen of Zweibrücken
5. Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
22. Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (= 16)
11. Auguste Marie of Holstein-Gottorp
23. Marie Elisabeth of Saxony (= 17)
1. Princess Sofia Albertina of Sweden
24. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
12. Frederick I of Prussia
25. Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau
6. Frederick William I of Prussia
26. Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover
13. Sophia Charlotte of Hanover
27. Sophia, Countess Palatine of Simmern
3. Louisa Ulrika of Prussia
28. Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover (= 26)
14. George I of Great Britain
29. Sophia, Countess Palatine of Simmern (= 27)
7. Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
30. George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
15. Sophia Dorothea of Celle
31. Eleonore d'Esmier d'Olbreuse


  • Herman Lindquist, "Historien om Sverige; Gustavs dagar"("History of Sweden; The days of Gustav III")
  • Olof Jägerskiöld, Lovisa Ulrika
  • Oscar Levertin, Teater och drama under Gustaf III, Albert Bonniers förlag, Stockholm, Fjärde Upplagan (1920).
  • Lars Elgklou (1995) (in Swedish). Familjen Bernadotte, en kunglig släktkrönika. Skogs boktryckeri Trelleborg. ISBN 91 7054 755 6.  
  • Ingvar Andersson (1979) (in Swedish). Gustavianskt. Fletcher & Son Ltd. ISBN 91-46-13373-9.  
  • Svenskt konstnärslexikon (Swedish Art dictionary) Allhems Förlag, Malmö (1952)
  • Karl Janicke: Sophie Albertine. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 34, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1892, S. 689.
  • Lars Elgklou: Bernadotte. Historien - eller historier - om en familj., Askild & Kärnekull Förlag AB, Stockholm 1978. ISBN 91 7008 882 9.
  • Lars O. Lagerqvist: Sveriges regenter - från forntid till nutid

External links

Religious titles
Preceded by
Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia
Princesse Abbess of Quedlingburg
Succeeded by
Title abolished


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