Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Queen Sophie of Sweden prefers to live in England

March 23, 1910

Queen Sophie of Sweden, the widow of King Oscar, now makes her home "almost entirely in England," according to the latest dispatch from the Marquise de Fontenoy. She has homes in London, Buckinghamshire and a villa in Bournemouth. But it is "misleading to speak of her as an exile from Sweden," as she prefers to make her home in England, "largely because the climate is more beneficial to her health then that of Sweden." Even when King Oscar was live, Sophie would often spend the autumn or the winter in the south of England. The queen does have "pronounced views with regard to evangelical matters, to temperance and to puritanism," as she objects to "many of the ordinary forms of social entertainment as harmful frivolities." Sophie has an active role in "Salvation Army affairs."
Her views "were often a source of trouble" to the Swedish government during Oscar's reign. She found the "people and the conditions in Norway more congenial than in Sweden," even at a time when "relations between the sister kingdoms were exceedingly strained."
King Oscar could "exercise considerable influence" over Sophie, but the same cannot be said for Sophie's relationship with her eldest son, the present King Gustav. She cares very little for her eldest son, which has led "to more friction between herself and the Swedish authorities in the last two years."
The differences between mother and son are not solely based in their different views, but also are about money. King Oscar was not a very rich man, but Queen Sophie has a large fortune, inherited from her father, the last Duke of Nassau, "who obtained colossal revenues from the public gaming tables of Wiesbaden."
It was largely assumed, certainly by Oscar, that he would benefit from Sophie's inheritance, which would then be inherited by Gustav. However, Queen Sophie has "intimated her intention of leaving her fortune to her second son, Prince Bernadotte," who gave up his title and his right of succession when he married Ebba Munck.
The Prince and Princess share Sophie's views. The prince was forced to retire from the Navy, as the "chiefs could not countenance his preaching in the street, to the hymn accompaniments of his wife." The prince and princess also crusaded against places that served alcohol and the prince was known to criticize the "legislation and administration of the government in various social and religious matters."
Princess Bernadotte is not popular with her husband's family. King Gustav and other members of the family see the prince and princess has being undue influences on "the aged queen," because of the inheritance.
In England, Sophie is "so much freer to follow out her religious, philanthropic, and social work," without any interference from the Swedish government or her son. In England, she can enjoy a "liberty of action" which would be out of the question in Sweden.

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