As crown princess (1744–1751), queen (1751–1771) and then queen dowager (1771–1782) of Sweden,
Lovisa Ulrika took an active role in political matters in a period that was difficult for the monarchy.
The Swedish monarchy had been confronted by a complex and difficult situation following Sweden’s
defeat in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) and found itself deprived of many of its traditional
royal prerogatives. The defeat had precipitated an end to the absolutism of Karl XII, which was replaced
by a parliamentarian monarchy. The position Adolf Fredrik and his queen, Lovisa Ulrika, was
an uncomfortable one; the monarch’s hands were tied by the constitution that had been drafted after
the defeat, restricting his prerogatives to almost nothing.
To Lovisa Ulrika, a monarchal regime was the only authentic and possible natural order for
any given society; it was also the best option available to stabilize and unite the country, reconcile its
members with each other, and prevent foreign intrusion. From the moment she arrived in Sweden in
1744, and throughout her life, Lovisa Ulrika worked tirelessly towards increasing the power of the
monarchy. Described variously as fierce, proud, haughty, intelligent, self-conscious of her due royal
prerogatives, filled with political ambitions, and accused by many of her contemporaries of wanting
to restore absolutism, she never diverted from her objective, despite obstacles and adversities. As such,
she embodied the perfect example of a female consort who was in turn a political agent, instrument
and catalyst. This talk examines in details these three roles through her example.