Portrait of Grand Duchess Luise Marie Elisabeth von Baden

A determined helper from a noble familyLuise von Baden

A princess from a famous family on the throne of Baden: A meeting in Baden-Baden shaped the life of Luise of Prussia (1838–1923). The foundation of the women's association of Baden can be traced back to her initiative. Her mother, Empress Augusta, offered an example of such dedication.

Bust of Emperor Wilhelm I in Baden-Baden

Bust of Emperor Wilhelm I in Baden-Baden.

Who was Grand Duchess Luise?

Luise came from the House of Hohenzollern, and she was the daughter of the Prussian king and the first German emperor, Wilhelm I (1797–1888). The princess grew up in Berlin and Koblenz. The life of the family was closely connected to the much-visited spa town, Baden-Baden: Wilhelm and his wife Augusta loved to stay here. During one of the visits, Luise became acquainted with Friedrich von Baden. Baden-Baden was also the place in which the first of four assassination attempts on her father took place, in 1861, and where she herself died in 1923 at a ripe old age.

Friedrich and Luise – What were they like as a couple?

Friedrich and Luise married in 1856. Though the marriage of her Prussian parents was likely less happy, Luise and Friedrich got along well. The marriage resulted in three children: Friedrich, who later became the last grand duke of Baden, Princess Viktoria, and the youngest, Ludwig Wilhelm, who died in 1888. Viktoria married Gustav of Sweden from the House of Bernadotte, thus becoming the great-great-grandmother of the present Swedish Crown Princess, Victoria.

Friedrich I and Luise in Baden-Baden, photograph by Jungmann & Schorn, 1906.

Luise and Friedrich I in 1906 in Baden-Baden.

1888 was a fateful year for Luise – Why?

There were three emperors in 1888, and three deaths in Luise's family. At the end of February, Friedrich and Luise were traveling to southern France when they heard that their son Ludwig Wilhelm was ill. An avalanche near Lucerne prevented them from reaching their son in Freiburg before his death. Luise's father, Emperor Wilhelm I, died only two weeks later. The 99-day emperor then came to power, Luise's brother Friedrich III, who had cancer. After his death, his son became the last German emperor under the name of Wilhelm II.

Großherzogliche Grabkapelle Karlsruhe, Grabmal Luise Marie Elisabeth von Baden, Detailaufnahme Gesicht

Tomb of Grand Duchess Luise Marie Elisabeth von Baden.

What did Luise achieve in Baden?

The grand duchess was known for her social engagement, which her mother, Empress Augusta, also displayed. To promote nursing, Grand Duchess Luise founded the first women's association in Baden in 1859. In 1864, Baden became the first state to enter the Geneva Convention in an effort to improve conditions for wounded soldiers. The women's association of Baden was recognized as a state association of the International Red Cross two years later. Although her image of women remained conservative, Luise's decisive actions affected many things in Baden.

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