Ingrid Victoria Sofia Louise Margareta was born a Princess of Sweden in 1910. Her father was Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, and her mother was the Patron Saint of this blog, Margaret of Connaught. Through her mother, she was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was the third child and only daughter among what would be five siblings.
To understand Ingrid, you have to understand her mother. Known as Margareta after her marriage, the Crown Princess was a revelation to the Swedish court. The beautiful and cheerful British princess considerably lightened the effect of her cynical and detached husband, Gustaf Adolf. She was a talented painter and an adventurous photographer whose artwork to this day decorates the walls of Stockholm Palace. The look and atmosphere of the court became more cheerful with her presence. Unusually for her social status and for the times, she built a relaxed and close relationship with all five of her children, particularly that of her only daughter Ingrid.
The intimate, happy family experienced a devastating loss when Princess Margareta, pregnant with her sixth child, died of sepsis in 1920. The Prime Minister announced, “The ray of sunshine at Stockholm Palace has gone out.” The years following were difficult, and Ingrid, who was so close to her mother, was said to internalize her grief. To the world, she presented a disciplined and determined exterior, and within the court, she was a dutiful – some say rigidly focused – daughter to her father.
Her father’s remarriage in 1923, when Ingrid was thirteen, was another blow. Her stepmother, Lady Louise Mountbatten, was by all accounts an agreeable woman, but Ingrid felt betrayed. She was cold and often difficult with Louise. Her relationship with her father was also strained, and would not be repaired for many years.
Fast Fact: Both Ingrid and her stepmother were the great-granddaughters of Queen Victoria. Lady Louise Mountbatten was the daughter of Princess Victoria of Hesse. Louise’s sister was Princess Alice, the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother.
Even though she no longer had a carefree family life, Ingrid was a focused student. She was primarily taught privately where she studied history, art history, and political science. She had an affinity for languages and learned several. She also had an independent streak, and took advantage of the newly emancipated role for women by heading out around town in her two-seater car. She was stylish, and considered quite a looker. After a visit to the U.S., even Americans – so particular about dentistry – commented on her “lovely teeth and smile”.
Who would this glamorous and well-dressed royal marry? Like many other eligible European royals (such as Frederica of Hanover) it was proposed that she would be a good match for the Prince of Wales. This suggestion went nowhere, for Ingrid and her good friend Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark – who had known each other since Ingrid was a child – were batting away engagement rumors every two or three years. In March 1935, the engagement was announced officially, and the wedding took place on May 24, 1935. It was an enormous celebration in Sweden.
Fast Fact: The wedding was a massive media event, much criticized in some quarters. Ingrid did not have adult bridesmaids, but Princesses Astrid and Ragnhild of Norway served as flower girls. Ingrid began several traditions originating from her Swedish roots, including the Danish gold bracelets, the heirloom lace wedding veil, the Khedive as a wedding tiara, and the heirloom wedding lace.
The couple appeared to be well-suited from the start. Ingrid’s discipline and sense of duty helped her quickly assimilate to her role and learn Danish, and Frederik’s more carefree attitude helped her loosen up. His salty language might have also have transferred itself to her: When the Germans invaded Denmark in 1940 the Crown Princess was said to have sat up in her bed and remarked, “Those sh*ts!” She had more than one reason to be worried, for the couple’s first child, Margrethe, was born only a week later.
The Danes remained in Denmark during the occupation, and the Crown Princess was often seen bicycling or pushing the baby carriage through the streets. The Crown Princess was openly supportive of the Danes, and a worried King Gustav of Sweden suggested she might tone it down. She didn’t – in fact, she arranged the flags of Denmark, Sweden and the UK in the nursery window, in full view of the courtyard below.
The couple eventually had two more children, Princesses Benedikte and Anne-Marie. In 1947, King Christian X died and Crown Prince Frederik became King and Ingrid became Queen Consort. Although not as dramatic as the war years, peacetime still required that Ingrid put her determination and energy to work. She served as a patron of many organizations, as well as putting her stamp on the life of the royal court. She made many changes to royal traditions to make the court a more welcoming place. During these years, the Danish royal family became one of the most popular monarchies among their constituents.
There are quite a few stories of the Queen Ingrid’s influence, but one that always stood out to me was that she was one of the few European monarchs to attend the wedding of Princess Margaret to a commoner in 1960. Still, her primary role remained supporting the King and preparing her daughter, and later her grandson, for their roles as monarch.
Frederik IV died in 1972, but Ingrid remained active throughout a long widowhood. In an atypical move, she was designated regent when her daughter would leave the country. She spent much time renovating the palace gardens at Graasten and at her residence at Frederiksborg Palace, where she lived at the Chancellery.
Queen Ingrid died at the age of ninety in November 2000. She was buried at Roskilde Cathedral next to her husband.