After the birth of six sons, Wilhelm and Augusta Victoria were delighted when their seventh child turned out to be a girl and they doted on her from the moment she was born. The princess was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and her paternal great-great-grandmother, Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, although her father would later claim his daughter was not named after Queen Victoria as relations between the two families became increasingly strained.
While Viktoria Luise was said to have been an intelligent and graceful child, she was also stubborn and imperious like her father who made no attempt to hide the fact she was his favourite. Growing up at Homburg Castle, Viktoria Luise was close to her brother, Joachim, and her older brother, Adalbert, who helped negotiate her marriage. Viktoria Luise and her siblings were also close to the younger daughters of Crown Princess Victoria who lived nearby.
In 1910, Viktoria Luise met Ernest Augustus of Hanover when he came to court to visit her parents and they were soon smitten with each other. There were political ramifications to consider though before a marriage could take place as Ernest Augustus was heir apparent to the dukedom of Cumberland and to the Hanoverian throne. Hanover had been annexed by Prussia following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Viktoria Luise’s eldest brother, Crown Prince Wilhelm, unhappy with the proposed match, demanded Ernest Augustus formally abdicate his rights to the Hanoverian throne. However, a compromise was finally reached when Ernest Augustus was offered the smaller duchy of Brunswick which his family had been banned from inheriting due to the ongoing dispute over the Hanoverian throne.
The engagement was announced on 11 February 1913 and hailed as the end of the rift between the House of Hanover and House of Hohenzollern. The wedding took place on 24 May 1913 and it would prove to be the last great gathering of European royalty before the outbreak of the First World War would change Europe forever. The Emperor was intent on giving his daughter a lavish wedding and he invited more than 1,200 guests, including his cousins, George V and Tsar Nicholas II.
The newlyweds settled in Brunswick where their first child, Ernest Augustus, was born on 18 March 1914 and he would soon be followed by three more sons and a daughter, Frederica, who would eventually become Queen of the Hellenes. Ernest Augustus had to take an oath of loyalty to Wilhelm II and accepted a commission as a cavalry captain and company commander in the Zieten-Hussars, a Prussian Army regiment in which his grandfather, George V of Hanover, and great-grandfather, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, had been colonels. On 27 October 1913, Ernest Augustus’ father renounced his title of Duke of Brunswick in favour of his son who took possession of the duchy on 1 November.
Princess in Exile
The Duke and Duchess of Brunswick would have a short tenure though as Ernest Augustus was forced to abdicate his throne on 8 November 1918, along with all the other German kings, grand dukes, dukes, and princes. Additionally, the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 meant Ernest Augustus lost his British titles as a result of his service in the German army during the war. Ernest Augustus remained head of the House of Hanover while living between his various estates.
When the Nazi party began to rise in Germany in the 1930s, several of Viktoria Luise’s brothers joined in the hopes the monarchy would eventually be restored but it was a forlorn hope as Hitler had no real use for them. Ernest Augustus never officially joined the Nazi party but he did donate money and knew many of the top ranking officials. Hoping to use Ernest Augustus’ ties with the British Royal Family, Hitler tried to promote the idea of a match between Viktoria Luise’s daughter, Frederica, and Edward, Prince of Wales but her parents refused on the grounds she was far too young.
In May 1941, Viktoria Luise traveled to Doorn to visit her exiled father who had fallen ill and she was by his bedside when he died of a pulmonary embolism on 4 June 1941. Towards the end of the war, Viktoria Luise and her family were living at Blankenburg Castle but they managed to escape just before it became part of East Germany. The family moved to Marienburg Castle in Hanover under the protection of George VI who had their furniture and possessions moved in British army trucks.
After the war, Viktoria Luise expended her energies on palace restorations and various philanthropic activities, while remaining a member of high society. After her husband’s death in January 1953, Marienburg was turned into a museum by her eldest son, Ernest Augustus, who became head of the House of Hanover. Viktoria Luise was so upset by her son’s actions, she refused the other houses he offered her and moved back to Brunswick where she was offered a house by a wealthy industrialist. She died on 11 December 1980 and was buried next to her husband in front of the Royal Mausoleum in the Berggarten at Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover.