Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Hedvig Ulrika Taube


Lady-in-waiting, royal mistress

Hedvig Taube was a royal mistress in the 1700s in Sweden.

Hedvig Taube was born in 1714 as the second of nine children. Their parents were Christina Maria Falkenberg and Edvard Didrik Taube. The family belonged to the social elite of their day and lived respectably according to their status in the Bååt-Stenbockska Palace in Stockholm. Edvard Didrik Taube, who later became a highly ranked officer in the navy and in the national council, was no good as a businessman. He ruined the family through bad business decisions and gambling. Despite the family’s economic decline, they kept up their social life in the top ranks of society. In this context, at the beginning of the 1730s, Fredrik I acquired a liking for the young Hedvig Taube, who soon, after persuasion by her paternal aunt Beata Taube and the politically active Hedvig Catharina Lillie, was situated as a lady-in-waiting in Queen Ulrika Eleonora the younger’s entourage. Her father’s and brothers’ careers would be advanced in return and her father’s debts paid off.

The King’s importunate courtship led to Hedvig Taube becoming pregnant. After a secret birth, the child was taken away and given to a foster mother, but died soon after. A short while after her first pregnancy, Hedvig Taube finished her time as lady-in-waiting and was installed in her own home close to the Wrangelska Palace, where the royal couple resided while waiting for Stockholm castle to be completed. In her home, Hedvig Taube held receptions and her closeness to the king made her also to a certain degree politically influential. The eighteenth-century Swedish noblemen Axel von Fersen and Carl Tersmeden mention her and emphasise her physical attributes. Towards the end of the 1730s, the king’s semi-official relationship with Hedvig Taube aroused political attention, not least for the apparent evidence of more children, who all enjoyed princely provision.

In the political quarrels between parties in the 1700s, known as the Swedish Age of Liberty, allusions to sexual morals were presented in relation to the publicly unpopular relationship, and foreign emissaries also tried to exploit the relationship to their advantage. Overshadowed by the war carried on by the political faction called the Hats against Russia in 1741–1743, the queen died, and shortly afterwards, in 1744, Hedvig Taube also died giving birth to her fourth child, a daughter who died when she was only eight years of age.

Hedvig Taube was first buried in the Falkenberg family crypt in Vadsbro Church but was later moved to Strängnäs Cathedral, where she rests beside her youngest daughter.

Maria Sjöberg
(Translated by Margaret Myers)

Published 2021-05-11

You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Hedvig Ulrika Taube,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Maria Sjöberg), retrieved 2024-07-20.

Other Names

    Alternate name: Riksgrevinnan von Hessenstein

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Unmarried
  • Mother: Christina Maria Falkenberg av Trystorp
  • Father: Edvard Didrik Taube af Odenkat
  • Brother: Didrik Henrik Taube
more ...


  • Privatundervisning i hemmet, Stockholm: Ståndsmässig uppfostran


  • Profession: Hovfröken hos drottning Ulrika Eleonora
  • Non-profit work: Kunglig mätress


  • Relative: Beata Taube, faster
  • Colleague: Hedvig Catharina Lillie
  • Friend: Carl Tersmeden
  • Friend: Axel von Fersen


  • Birthplace: Stockholm
  • Stockholm
  • Place of death: Stockholm


  • Holst, Walfrid, Fredrik I, Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm, 1953

  • Jacobson, Esther, Hedvig Taube: en bok om en svensk kunglig mätress, Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm, 1919

  • Norrhem, Svante, Kvinnor vid maktens sida: 1632-1772, Nordic Academic Press, Lund, 2007

Further References

  • Persson, Fabian, Women at the early modern Swedish court: power, risk, and opportunity, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2021

  • Sjöberg, Maria, 'Drottningar och mätresser i ram', Bildligt talat : kvinnligt, manligt i 3,2 miljoner år, S. 183-206, 2012

Hedvig Taube. Portrait (oil on canvas) by Lorens Pasch the Elder (1702-1766), year unknown. Nationalmuseum (NMGrh 565)
Hedvig Taube. Portrait (oil on canvas) by Lorens Pasch the Elder (1702-1766), year unknown. Nationalmuseum (NMGrh 565)


18th century