Sophie of Württemberg

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Sophie of Württemberg

Koningin Sophie Wurttemberg.jpg

Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1861)
Queen consort of the Netherlands
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Duchess of Limburg
Tenure 7 March 1849 – 3 June 1877
Born(1818-06-17)17 June 1818
Ludwigsburg Palace, Stuttgart, Württemberg
Died 3 June 1877(1877-06-03) (aged 58)
Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, Netherlands
Burial 20 June 1877
Nieuwe Kerk, Delft, Netherlands
Spouse William III
Issue William, Prince of Orange
Prince Maurice
Alexander, Prince of Orange
Full name
Sophie Frederika Mathilde
House Württemberg
Father William I of Württemberg
Mother Catherine Pavlovna of Russia

Sophie of Württemberg (Sophia Frederika Mathilde; 17 June 1818 – 3 June 1877) was Queen of the Netherlands as the first wife of King William III.

William III of the Netherlands King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1849 - 1890

William III was King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1849 until his death in 1890. He was also the Duke of Limburg from 1849 until the abolition of the duchy in 1866.



She was born in Stuttgart; her parents were King William I of Württemberg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, the fourth eldest daughter of Tsar Paul I. Sophie and William were first cousins as their mothers were sisters. Shortly after Sophie’s birth, her mother died, and she was cared for by her aunt, Catharina of Württemberg. She was niece of tsars Alexander I and Nicholas I of Russia and a cousin of Tsar Alexander II, George V of Hanover and England's Queen Victoria.

Stuttgart Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart is located on the Neckar river in a fertile valley known locally as the "Stuttgart Cauldron." It lies an hour from the Swabian Jura and the Black Forest. Its urban area has a population of 609,219, making it the sixth largest city in Germany. 2.7 million people live in the city's administrative region and another 5.3 million people in its metropolitan area, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Germany. The city and metropolitan area are consistently ranked among the top 20 European metropolitan areas by GDP; Mercer listed Stuttgart as 21st on its 2015 list of cities by quality of living, innovation agency 2thinknow ranked the city 24th globally out of 442 cities and the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked the city as a Beta-status world city in their 2014 survey.

Tsar title given to a male monarch in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia

Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

Paul I of Russia Emperor of Russia

Paul I reigned as Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. Officially, he was the only son of Peter III and Catherine the Great, though Catherine hinted that he was fathered by her lover Sergei Saltykov, who also had Romanov blood, being a descendant of the first Romanov tsar's sister, Tatiana Feodorovna Romanova.

The Queen riding a horse Koningin Sophie te paard.jpg
The Queen riding a horse
Monogram of Queen of the Netherlands Royal Monogram of Queen Sophie of the Netherlands.svg
Monogram of Queen of the Netherlands

Prior to her marriage, King Otto of Greece and Duke William of Brunswick were possible suitors for Princess Sophie. The engagement with the first came to nothing because Princess Sophie's ambitious father had no confidence in the newly established Greek monarchy of Otto. Chance prevented a proposal by the second candidate because her father let it be known that Princess Sophie was already betrothed.

Otto of Greece King of Greece

Otto was a Bavarian prince who became the first modern King of Greece in 1832 under the Convention of London. He reigned until he was deposed in 1862.

She married the Prince of Orange (later King William III) in Stuttgart on 18 June 1839 with the idea that she would in the end succeed in dominating him.[ citation needed ] The couple returned to the Netherlands and established themselves at the Plein Palace and—after they had become king and queen—at the Noordeinde Palace. They had three children. The marriage was not a success. King William's mother, whom he completely relied on, was totally against the marriage to a daughter of the sister she loathed and treated her daughter-in-law and niece with disdain. Intellectually, Queen Sophie was superior to her husband. She, on the other hand, did not fit his sensual character. While he loved contemporary painting, music and theatre, she was a lady of letters with a specific interest in history. William III had several extramarital relations. She let it be publicly known that she found him inferior and unsuitable to be king and that she would do better as a regent for her son.

Prince of Orange title originally from the Principality of Orange

Prince of Orange is a title originally associated with the sovereign Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. Under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, Frederick William I of Prussia ceded the Principality of Orange to King Louis XIV of France. After William III of England died without children, a dispute arose between Johan Willem Friso and Frederick I of Prussia, which was settled in the Treaty of Partition (1732); consequently, Friso's son, William IV had to share use of the title "Prince of Orange" with Frederick William I of Prussia. The title is traditionally borne by the heir apparent of the Dutch monarch. The title descends via absolute primogeniture since 1983, meaning that its holder can be either Prince or Princess of Orange.

Noordeinde Palace

Noordeinde Palace is one of the three official palaces of the Dutch royal family. Located in The Hague in the province of South Holland, it has been used as the "working palace" for King Willem-Alexander since 2013.

Queen Sophie circa 1860 Konigin Sophie der Niederlande Foto.jpg
Queen Sophie circa 1860

Queen Sophie tried to separate from him, but this was refused; the state interest had to prevail. From 1855 the couple lived separately during the summer season, he at Het Loo Palace and she at Huis ten Bosch Palace. She also spent time in Stuttgart, with her own family. Queen Sophie died at Huis ten Bosch Palace in the Hague. She was buried in her wedding dress, because, in her own view, her life had ended on the day she married.

Legal separation is a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married. A legal separation is granted in the form of a court order. In cases where children are involved, a court order of legal separation often makes child custody arrangements, specifying sole custody or shared parenting, as well as child support. Some couples obtain a legal separation as an alternative to a divorce, based on moral or religious objections to divorce.

Het Loo Palace museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands

Het Loo Palace is a palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, built by the House of Orange-Nassau.

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Queen Sophie corresponded with several European scholars and maintained warm ties with Emperor Napoleon III and Queen Victoria. She protected and stimulated the arts, supported several charities, including animal protection and construction of public parks. She was the 540th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa.

Queen Victoria British monarch who reigned 1837–1901

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

Maria Luisa of Parma Queen consort of Spain

Maria Luisa of Parma was Queen consort of Spain from 1788 to 1808 by marriage to King Charles IV of Spain. She was the youngest daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma, the fourth son of Philip V of Spain and Louise Élisabeth of France, the eldest daughter of King Louis XV.


  1. Prince William (1840–1879), Prince of Orange from 1849 until 1879.
  2. Prince Maurice (1843–1850) died in childhood.
  3. Prince Alexander (1851–1884), Prince of Orange from 1879 until 1884.


Coat of arms of Queen Sophie of the Netherlands Coat of Arms of Sophie of Wurttemberg, Queen of the Netherlands.svg
Coat of arms of Queen Sophie of the Netherlands

Titles and styles


Sophie of Württemberg
Born: 17 June 1818 Died: 3 June 1877
Royal titles
Preceded by
Anna Pavlovna of Russia
Queen consort of the Netherlands
Grand Duchess consort of Luxembourg

Title next held by
Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont

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