Queen Sophia Dorothea (26 March 1687 – 28 June 1757) was the Queen of Great Britain from 1727 until her death and Queen Consort in Prussia from 1713 until 1740. She was the wife of Frederick William I and the daughter of George I of Great Britain.
Sophia Dorothea was born on 16 March 1687 in Brunswick-Luneburg. She was the only daughter of George Louis of Brunswick-Luneburg, later King George I of Great Britain, and Sophia Dorothea of Celle. She unexpectedly became heiress apparent on the death of her elder brother George Augustus.
Crown Princess of Prussia
Sophia Dorothea married her cousin, Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia, heir apparent to the Prussian throne, on 28 November 1706. They had met as children under the care of their grandmother, Sophia of Hanover, and had disliked each other ever since. Sophia Dorothea differed from her husband in every aspect and marriage suffered as a result. One of the most important differences between them was the Sophia Dorothea, unlike her husband, loved entertainment.
Queen in Prussia
Her husband ascended the throne on 1713 and Sophia Dorothea became queen. She was nicknamed ‘Olympia’ for her regal bearing. The queen and her three children were terrorized and beaten by Frederick William, who may have suffered from the hereditary disease porphyria.
In less than an year, her distant relative Queen Anne of Great Britain died following a stroke and her father George Louis travelled to the country to claim his right to the throne. He also took his only son George Augustus. During the voyage to Britain, George Augustus became infected from a disease which is now believed to be typhoid. Due to a lack of medical treatment on board the ship, George died within three days. Sophia Dorothea was informed of her brother’s death one week later. Following the news, Sophia Dorothea and her eldest son Crown Prince Frederick both travelled to London to be with the new King. Sophia Dorothea would never return to Prussia again and permanently resided in her favourite home, Windsor Castle.
Queen of Great Britain
Her father died in 1727 and Sophia Dorothea was proclaimed Queen by her Privy Council. The new Queen Regnant was interest in art, science literature and fashion. She had a good relation with her son who visited Britain often following his eighteenth birthday. She spent many days talking to him in the library of Windsor Castle and was informed of his plans to escape from his father’s custody. After he did withdraw from the Prussian court, she corresponded with him from the castle. She was not described as a beauty and she was scarred from smallpox. Nonetheless, she kept an attractive figure and proved a popular monarch among her subjects. She did not get embroiled in national politics and preferred to act as a neutral arbiter between the establishing political parties.
Queen Sophia Dorothea died peacefully in her sleep at Windsor Castle on 28 June 1757 and is buried in St. George’s Chapel. Following her death, her eldest Frederick, who was already King in Prussia, became monarch and took the name George II of Great Britain.