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Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Hereditary Princess of Denmark
1784 Charlotte.jpg
Portrait by Friedrich Erhard Wagener.
Born(1784-12-04)4 December 1784
Ludwigslust, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Died13 July 1840(1840-07-13) (aged 55)
Rome, Papal States
Teutonic Cemetery, Rome (allegedly)
SpouseChristian Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Denmark
IssueFrederick VII of Denmark
German: Charlotte Friederike
Danish: Charlotte Frederikke
FatherFrederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
MotherLouise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
ReligionRoman Catholicism,
prev. Lutheranism

Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (4 December 1784 – 13 July 1840), was the first wife of Christian VIII from 1806 until 1810, before he became King of Norway and later King of Denmark. She was a daughter of Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.


Early life

Charlotte Frederica painted by Lisiewski during her childhood.
Charlotte Frederica painted by Lisiewski during her childhood.

Duchess Charlotte Frederica was born on 4 December 1784 in Ludwigslust in Mecklenburg as the seventh and youngest surviving child of the later Grand Duke Frederick Francis I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.[1]

Duchess Charlotte Frederikke grew up with her siblings at her parents' court in Mecklenburg. She was a lively child, who was never bothered by strict educators, did what suited her regardless of formalities, found friends among the servants, and dressed in variegated clothing, contrary to the customs of the times.[2]


Portrait of Charlotte Frederica by Friedrich Erhard Wagener, 1804.
Portrait of Charlotte Frederica by Friedrich Erhard Wagener, 1804.

During a long voyage to Germany in 1804, her cousin, the Danish Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark (later King Christian VIII), stayed for a longer time at his uncle's court in Schwerin, where he fell in love with the two year older couisn, Duchess Charlotte Frederica. They married two years later, on 21 June 1806 in Ludwigslust in Mecklenburg.[3]

Portrait of Charlotte Frederica by Carl Frederik von Breda, c. 1806.
Portrait of Charlotte Frederica by Carl Frederik von Breda, c. 1806.

The young couple initially settled at Plön Castle in the Duchy of Holstein. It was here, that Charlotte Frederica gave birth to their first-born son, Prince Christian Frederick, who was born and died on 8 April 1807. From 1808 the couple lived in Copenhagen, where they took residence at Levetzau's Palace, an 18th-century town house which forms part of the Amalienborg Palace complex in the district Frederiksstaden in central Copenhagen.[2] As their country residence they used Sorgenfri Palace, located on the shores of the small river Mølleåen in Kongens Lyngby north of Copenhagen.

Nonetheless, their married life was problematic. Princess Charlotte Frederica was very preoccupied with the ideas that originated in the French Revolution and embraced the idea of ​​individual freedom at a time of absolutism's assertion of hierarchical society. Her character was thought to be capricious, frivolous and mythomaniac. The lifestyle at court was rigid and traditional, and it did not suit her as she was used to a freer lifestyle from home and did her best to change that. One winter evening during a party that presumably bored her, she let the servants bring up snow and set about throwing snowballs.[2]

She was wasteful and constantly in want of money despite an ample apanage, forcing her husband to step in. If he protested, she overpowered him in front of the servants. Prince Christian Frederick also often had to apologize to the Crown Prince Regent for his wife's behavior. In a letter, he writes that he has had a serious conversation with her and that she has "realized her mistakes and promised improvement and that with a sincere heart, I am convinced of that."[2]

On 6 October 1808, Charlotte Frederica gave birth to their second son and only surviving child, Prince Frederick Carl Christian, the future King Frederick VII of Denmark, who was called Fritz by his mother throughout his life.[2] Her joy at motherhood was great, but did not change her behavior.

Divorce and banishment

Portrait of Charlotte Frederica (1822).
Portrait of Charlotte Frederica (1822).

In 1809, her alleged affair with her singing teacher, Swiss-born singer and composer Édouard Du Puy, led to her removal from the court. For this reason, her husband divorced her in 1810, banished her from court, sent her into internal exile, and prohibited her from ever seeing her son again.

After her divorce, Charlotte Frederica spent the next years of her life in a palace in Horsens, in Jutland and partly in Aarhus, where she cultivated social circles among the local bourgeoisie and had affairs with officers.[citation needed]

Later life

In 1829 she moved from Denmark to Karlsbad under the name "Mrs. von Gothen." In 1830 she traveled to Italy, finally settling in Rome and later converted to the Catholic faith.

Charlotte Frederica died in Rome in 1840. Her death was described as a relief to the court in Copenhagen as she dreamed of someday returning as the King's mother. Frederik VII, who was only one year old when she had to leave him, showed great reverence towards the memory of his late mother: he collected portraits of her in his rooms at Jægerspris Castle, and when he visited Horsens on Sept. 1857 he officially thanked the city "for the love and kindness that was shown to her."

She was allegedly buried in the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City. Her tomb was opened on 11 July 2019 due to investigations related to the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi case, but was found to be empty.[4][5]




  1. ^ Thorsøe 1889, p. 442.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Den gale prinsesse". Skalk. 1: 18-19. 2003.
  3. ^ Thorsøe 1889, p. 442-43.
  4. ^ Rodari, Paolo (11 July 2019). "Caso Orlandi, il fratello Pietro: "Tombe aperte e trovate vuote: incredibile"". La Repubblica (in Italian). Rome. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  5. ^ Reynolds, James (11 July 2019). "Emanuela Orlandi search: Empty tombs fail to solve Vatican mystery". BBC News. Vatican City. Retrieved 11 July 2019.


  • "Den gale prinsesse" [The mad princess]. Skalk. Aarhus: Wormianum (1): 18–19. 2003.
  • Bramsen, Bo (1985). Ferdinand og Caroline : en beretning om prinsen der nødig ville være konge af Danmark [Ferdinand and Caroline : an account of the prince who was reluctant to be king of Denmark] (in Danish) (4th ed.). Copenhagen: Nordiske Landes Bogforlag. ISBN 87-87439-22-0.
  • von Elm, Sebastian (1967). Den uartige prinsesse [The naughty princess] (in Danish). Copenhagen: Chr. Erichsen.
  • Langhoff Koch, Louise (2021). Kongernes kvinder : dronninger, elskerinder, friller og maitresser i den danske kongerække fra Christian 1. til i dag [The women of the kings: queens, lovers, mistresses and concubines in the Danish royal lineage from Christian I to today] (in Danish). Copenhagen: Muusmanns forlag. ISBN 9788794155564.
  • Neiiendam, Robert (1923). Ungdom og Galskab : Prinsesse Charlotte Frederikke og Edouard Du Puy [Youth and Madness : Princess Charlotte Frederikke and Edouard Du Puy] (in Danish). Copenhagen: V. Pios Boghandel.
  • Thorsøe, Alexander (1889). "Charlotte Frederikke". Dansk biografisk Lexikon, tillige omfattende Norge for tidsrummet 1537-1814 (in Danish) (1st ed.). Copenhagen: Gyldendals forlag. 3: 442–444.
  • Weiland, Albrecht (1988). Der Campo Santo Teutonico in Rom und seine Grabdenkmäler [The Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome and its tombstones] (in German). Vol. 1. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder. pp. 219 f. ISBN 3-451-20882-2.

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