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An extraordinary ensemble in an idyllic setting

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Portrait of Queen Charlotte von Württemberg, circa 1910. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Clever, athletic, benevolent

Charlotte von

Württemberg

Queen Charlotte (1864–1946) was the second wife of Wilhelm II von Württemberg. Her good deeds made her famous. After 1918, she and her husband retreated to Bebenhausen. This is where the last Queen of Württemberg lived until her death in 1946.

Charlotte von Schaumburg. Image: Wikimedia, in the public domain

Far more than just a beautiful young woman.

Who was Princess zu Schaumburg-Lippe?

The Bohemian princess was far more than just a beautiful young woman from the high nobility. Charlotte zu Schaumburg-Lippe had a well-rounded education. She was interested in the humanities, art, theater, and opera, played the piano extremely well, and had a lovely voice. She also loved nature, hiking, and hunting, was athletic, and enjoyed riding.

Queen Charlotte von Württemberg in Bebenhausen Palace, photograph circa 1920. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

The queen avoided public appearances.

In the beginning, the people of Württemberg were skeptical. Why?

In her first years in the public eye, Charlotte zu Schaumburg-Lippe acted rather shy and serious. She avoided public appearances. That's why many of the people of Württemberg initially thought that she, in contrast to Wilhelm II's first wife, Marie von Waldeck-Pyrmont, was unapproachable. The marriage for love between Wilhelm and the lovely Princess Marie had been romanticized by the young woman's tragic early death. Also, Queen Charlotte had no children, meaning there were no heirs for the kingdom.

During a visit from King Wilhelm II, Queen Charlotte was given flowers. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

The queen finds her role as the mother of her state.

Why did the people change their minds about the queen?

Over the course of time, Queen Charlotte found her way into her role as the caring mother of her state. In the process, she combined strong dedication to social institutions with personal, human participation and helpfulness. All in all, the queen brought 32 philanthropic institutions under her aegis. During World War I, she herself worked as a nurse at a typhoid station in a military hospital. The royal couple also always became the godparents of every seventh child in a family.

King Wilhelm II von Württemberg with Queen Charlotte in front of Bebenhausen Palace, photograph circa 1915. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Charlotte and her husband in Bebenhausen.

How did the queen live among the people of Bebenhausen?

In the pastoral Bebenhausen, life was somewhat simpler for both the queen and the king; court ceremony and etiquette played less of a role. Queen Charlotte soon knew all the inhabitants, and with the passage of time, she became one of them. Together with her neighbors, she survived the nights of bombing in World War II in an air-raid shelter. During the war, she concerned herself particularly with the children, often brought baked goods or delicacies with her from the palace kitchen, and tried to calm everyone.

The queen's bedroom in Bebenhausen Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Queen Charlotte had her own apartment in Bebenhausen Palace.