Viktoria was named after Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia, who was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and was also married to Louise of Prussia’s older brother, Frederick. Viktoria’s paternal grandmother was Sophie of Sweden, the eldest daughter of Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden who had been forced to abdicate from the Swedish throne in March 1809. Gustav IV was succeeded by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who assumed the throne in 1818, commencing the present House of Bernadotte.
In 1852, the House of Bernadotte tried to make amends with the deposed ruling house when Oscar I and Josephine of Leuchtenberg tried to arrange a meeting with Sophie but they were rebuffed. A decade later, Sophie did meet Oscar II and his wife, Sophie of Nassau, and she got along with them so well she presented the couple with a gift for their son, a medallion with the inscription “G” and the crown of the Swedish Crown Prince, because he had the same name as her brother.
With the two families now on speaking terms, the path was cleared for a marriage to unite the two ruling houses, and Viktoria was chosen to marry Crown Prince Gustaf. The wedding took place in Karlsruhe on 20 September 1881 and Viktoria reverted to using the Anglicised version of her name. The new royal couple were very popular in Sweden, mainly due to the fact Victoria was a descendant of the House of Vasa and was often referred to as “The Vasa Princess”.
The union between Victoria and Gustaf was never a love match since it had been arranged between the two families was a dynastic marriage but it proved to be an unhappy one as her husband was rumoured to have been bisexual. After the birth of her eldest son, Gustaf Adolf, in 1882, Victoria suffered from severe post-natal depression and was advised to spend the winter abroad. Victoria found the trips beneficial, continuing them throughout her life, but they eventually made her unpopular with the public and caused tension with her in-laws. By 1889, Victoria and Gustaf’s marriage was over, and Victoria spent months abroad, visiting Egypt and Italy, where she pursued her love for painting and photography.
On 8 December 1907, Victoria became Queen of Sweden after the death of her father-in-law but she was only ever present at court during the summer months. Despite her frequent trips abroad, Victoria still managed to exert considerable political influence over her husband and was very pro-German which did not stand her in good stead with the Swedish public. Victoria’s power stemmed from the fact her first cousin, Wilhelm II, was the German Emperor, but when he was deposed at the end of the First World War, Victoria lost all her political influence in Sweden.
Although the Swedish public resented Victoria’s many trips abroad, they were often out of necessity as she had suffered from poor health all her life, frequently succumbing to bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. Treatments of mercury and heavy medications during her pregnancies contributed to her precarious state of health and she eventually bought her own rustic farmhouse in Capri where the climate suited her. As her health deteriorated, Victoria spent more and more time in Capri, and her last known appearance in Sweden was for her husband’s birthday in 1928.
House (birth): House of Zahringen
House (marriage): House of Bernadotte
Father: Frederick I of Baden
Mother: Louise of Prussia
Born: 07 Aug 1862
Died: 04 Apr 1930
Spouse: Gustaf V of Sweden
Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Viktoria of Baden
07 Aug 1862 – 20 Sep 1881
HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden and Norway
20 Sep 1881 – 07 Jun 1905
HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden
07 Jun 1905 – 08 Dec 1907
HM The Queen of Sweden
08 Dec 1907 – 04 Apr 1930