Louise was born in Stockholm. After the death of her brother, Carl Oscar (1852-1854), she became an only child at the age of three, and remained one because of her mother's inability to have more children due to an injury. This meant that the throne would pass to her uncle Oscar because, although Sweden had previously had the occasional female monarch, the constitution of 1809 stipulated agnatic succession. Her father made repeated attempts to obtain a constitutional amendment which would recognize her as heir presumptive to the thrones of Sweden and Norway. These attempts were in vain, because there was simply no crisis of succession; Louise's uncle Oscar became the father of several sons, beginning with the birth of the eldest in 1858, and the existence of males in the Bernadotte dynasty rendered action unnecessary. The king could not secure support for a constitutional change which would disinherit his brother and nephews merely to satisfy his desire for his own progeny to ascend the throne; in any case, a daughter could make an advantageous marriage and become the queen of another realm, which is exactly what happened with Louise.
Having no son, and sorely feeling the lack of one, Louise's father compromised by treating her the way that boys were usually treated at the time, often saying about her: "She's an ugly devil, but she's funny!" He treated her in the gruff manner that was then normative between father and son, teasing her if she displayed any feminine or 'sissy' behavior, and consequently, Louise did not develop feminine graces or make any efforts to embellish her looks. This worried her mother, Queen Louise, herself a lady of refinement and grace. While her father often referred to her as "Sessan" (in English: "Sissy", a diminutive form of the title Princess), Louise herself made up the name "Stockholmsrännstensungen" ('Stockholm urchin'), and she often used that term in reference to herself. Her uncle, the future king Oscar II, found it shocking that the word was used for a princess, and tried to curb its use, often admonishing Louise for allowing the word to pass her lips. He was perhaps the only one to try to impose any discipline on her, and Louise is invariably described as a loved and spoiled only child, doted upon by her parents: she is said to have been like her mother in appearance, but like her father in behavior, and she is described as energetic, gregarious, masculine and rather unprepossessing.
Louise was the center of society already as a child in Stockholm, where children's balls were arranged for her at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, which were considered as the most important part of the society children's social life and attended by among others her male cousins. Her academic education was provided by her governess Hilda Elfving. In 1862, she and her mother became students of Nancy Edberg, the pioneer of swimming for women. The art of swimming was initially not regarded as being entirely proper for women, but when the Queen and her daughter supported it by attending the lessons, swimming was quickly made fashionable and became accepted for females.
Louise became the subject of speculations regarding her marriage early on. The most popular candidate was Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark (1843–1912). Louise and Frederick had been introduced to each other the first time in 1862. The marriage was considered desirable for several reasons. The situation between the royal houses of Sweden-Norway and Denmark was very tense at this time. Upon the death of the childless King Frederick VII of Denmark in 1863, there had been support for having Charles XV or his brother Prince Oscar of Sweden placed on the Danish throne instead of Christian IX. Charles XV was critical toward Christian IX, whose personal qualities he doubted. In Denmark, there was disappointment over the fact that Sweden, despite the current Scandinavism, had not supported Denmark against Prussia during the Danish-Prussian war in 1864. After 1864, both Sweden-Norway and Denmark started to discuss plans of creating a form of symbolic peace between the two nations by arranging a marriage between Louise and Crown Prince Frederick. Charles XV of Sweden would like to see his daughter be Queen of Denmark, and in Denmark, the marriage would be preferred above a marriage to a German Princess, which would have been the other alternative, after the recent war with Germany.
However, Charles XV did not wish to force his doted daughter in an arranged marriage, and therefore left the final decision entirely to her own taste. The 14 April 1868, a meeting was arranged between Louise and Frederick at Bäckaskog Manor in Scania. As the matter was dependent upon whether Louise would like Frederick or not, the guests had not been informed about the purpose of the meeting in case Louise would not like Frederick and decide against the marriage, and except Frederick, only the Danish King was present from the Danish royal family. Upon meeting each other, however, both were apparently pleased, and Louise agreed to the marriage. The engagement was suddenly declared at breakfast the day after, which shocked her aunt and uncle, who had not been told why they were present.
During the engagement in the winter of 1868-1869, Louise studied the Danish language, literature, culture, and history under Lorentz Dietrichson. Louise married Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark (1843–1912) in Stockholm on 28 July 1869. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp in Sweden. The dowry of the Princess had entirely been made in Sweden, in order to boost the economy. The marriage was welcomed by all three countries as a symbol of the new Scandinavism. Louise was the first Swedish princess to be married into the Danish royal house since Ingeborg Magnusdotter of Sweden in the Middle Ages.
In Denmark, Louise became known as Louise rather than Lovisa. During her long period as Crown Princess of Denmark, she became very popular with the public, but unpopular with the Danish court and royal house.
The marriage did not result in any friendship between the royal houses, and Louise experienced ostracism within the royal family, which was dominated by her mother-in-law, Queen Louise. She was not liked by her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law, and her husband was too timid to give her any support toward his mother and sisters. Her frank nature was not accepted at the Danish royal court, where her behavior caused horror. At one occasion, when her mother-in-law viewed her dressed in a Parisian evening gown and disapprovingly ordered her to change her hair style, she answered the same informal way as she was used to in Sweden with a: "Take it easy, Pedersen!", something which made Queen Louise order her and Frederick to leave the country for three months. Crown Princess Louise described to the Swedish visitor Fritz von Dardel that her mother-in-law tried to place her in the shadow even at ceremonial situations when her presence was required: at one occasion, the Queen had turned down the request from the Uppsala University students to sing for the Crown Princess. When Dardel asked why, she whispered: "Out of jealousy, of course".
The family lived a discreet life at Amalienborg Palace during the winter and Charlottenlund Palace during the summer. During the first years of her marriage, Louise often visited Sweden. She was present at the death of her mother in March 1871. At that time, she was given comfort by her uncle's spouse, Sophie of Nassau, who became her confidante and personal friend. During the summers at Charlottenlund Palace by Öresund, Louise was able to visit her Swedish family at their summer residence Sofiero on the other side of Öresund and receive visits from them, which was described as a relief and comfort for her. However, her mother-in-law disliked them and insisted that she be informed and was asked for permission first. Fredrick's life style and adultery damaged his popularity and pained Louise. In 1879, she visited her aunt, Queen Sophia of Sweden in Stockholm to ask for her advice: she was at this point described as distraught. Queen Sophia, then introduced her to the preachers Lord Radstock and Gustaf Emanuel Beskow. After this point on, Louise reportedly found comfort in religion. She learned Greek, engaged herself in Bible studies and met Lord Radstock in Copenhagen in 1884. She made friends with the Danish lady-in-waiting Wanda Oxholm, with whom she engaged in bible studies. She was also interested in handcrafts such as leather works and painting.
Louise was described as a "good housewife" and as a strict but caring parent, who gave her children a childhood dominated by religion and duty. Because of her inheritance from her maternal grandparents, the family had a good economy. It was long known that she wished to see her daughter married in to the Swedish royal house, which was achieved when her daughter Ingeborg married Prince Carl of Sweden in 1897.
As Crown Princess, Louise engaged in charity and religion: she founded several charity organisation, among them the home «Bethania» and the «Kronprinsesse L.s Asyl» (Asylum of Crown Princess Louise), and formed a lifelong interest in The Church Association for the Inner Mission in Denmark. She is described as intelligent and with an ability to perform natural, easy and friendly at representational occasions, and was seen as dignified and impressive. In 1875, she received her aunt and uncle, the King and Queen of Sweden, at their official visit to Denmark.
In 1905, Norway became independent from Sweden with Danish support, which caused tension between Denmark and Sweden, and she was saddened when this made it difficult for her to visit Sweden.
Constitutionally, Louise was unable to inherit the thrones of Sweden and Norway. Her father Charles XV & IV was succeeded by his brother Oscar II. By a twist of fate, Louise's son, Prince Carl, did, in fact, eventually become King of Norway. He was elected to succeed her uncle to the Norwegian throne as a result of Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905.
Louise eventually became Queen of Denmark in 1906. As a Queen, she is mainly known for her many charity projects, an interest which she shared with her spouse. She did not care for ceremonial duties and public events, and lived a discreet life dedicated to her children and her interests in art, literature and charity.
Louise was widowed in 1912. Her eldest son Christian X of Denmark became the new king of Denmark. She was the last widow of a Danish monarch to use the title of Queen Dowager. From 1915 to 1917 she built herself Egelund Castle between Hillerød and Fredensborg where she lived for the rest of her life. Queen Louise died at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen in 1926 and is interred next to her husband in Roskilde Cathedral.
Queen Louise was the 862nd Dame of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa.
Queen Louise Land in Northeast Greenland was named in her honour.31 October 1851 – 28 July 1869: Her Royal Highness Princess Lovisa of Sweden and Norway
28 July 1869 – 29 January 1906: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark
29 January 1906 – 14 May 1912: Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark
14 May 1912 – 20 March 1926: Her Majesty The Queen Dowager of Denmark