European Royalty: Denmark


Figure 1.--This photograph shows the Danish royal family in a photograph taken about 1910. Pictured are King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine and their two sons, Frederick and Knud. The older boy is the future Frederick IX.

Denmark is one of the smallest countries of Europe. Modern Denmark consists of a mainland and a large number of Baltic/North Sea Isalnds. Denmark was once a major European power. The Danes were one of the countries that burst on to the European scene as gthe Vikings--almost conquering England. Denmrk was an early convert to Protestantism and played an importnt role in the Reformation. Denmark was one of the first countrries to face a unified Germany when the Germans seized the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. The Germans invaded again in 1940. The Danes won the admiration of the world when they became on of the few countries in Europe (the others being Spain and Bulgaria) to protect their Jews.

Historical Background

The great paradox of Danish history is that this democratic and peaceful country was once the terror of Europe. The Vikings pillages large coastal areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. The Danes even succeed in conquerung England in the 11th Centgury. They also conqured large areas of the Baltic litoral. The shape of modern Denmark was formed at the Congress of Vienna. As Denmark had sided with Napoleon, Norway was guven to Sweden and Pomerania to Prussia.

The Monarchy

The Danish monarchy is a unique institution. More than a thousand years ago, a viking warrior named Harald Bluetooth Gormssn founded the kingdom of Denmark, began the creation of a nationl government, and began the country's Christianization. Not areat deal is known about him, but several forts dated to this period have been found n escavated. The country has since had an unbroken royal line of 50 kings and two queens and it's actually a world record. And even though not all the Danish kings have by any means had illustrious reigns, the Danish monarchy through­out its thousand­year history, from the Viking kings to the modern constitutional monarchy, has had an almost mythic ability to adapt to the social and political changes of the centuries. In many ways it has been the Crown that has preserved this small country at the tip of the European continent through wars, revolutions, reformations, and foreign occupation. There is a long association with the British crown. Frederick III (1648-70) helped arrange the marriage of his son George with Anne Stuart who after the Resoration of the monary in Britain became queen.

Christian VIII (1839-48)

Christian was born in 1786. He became King of Denmark in 1839. He was the nephew of Christian VII and assecced to throne from Frederick VI. As governor and king of Norway in 1814 he accepted a democratic constitution that still, with some modifications, is the basic charter for Norwegian government. Christian mairred twice. His first wife was Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1784- ), but they divorced in 1810. He then mairred Caroline Amelia of Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1796- ) in 1815. Christian's reign brought prosperity to Denmark. The issue of Danish rule in the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, with a large German population, became a prominent issue in 1846. The expansion-minded Hohenzollerns were interested in adding the duchies to their Prussian territories. Christian was succeeded by his son, Frederick VII.

Frederick VII (1848-63)

Frederick was born in 1808 during the height of the Napoleonic era. He succeded his father, in 1848 and promulgated a democratic constitution ending absolute monarchial rule. As he gave the Danes a democratic constitution, King Frederick is highly regarded in Denmark. His reigned, however, was marred with the Schleswih-Holstein dispute with Prussia, but he managed to stave off the Prussians. The great powers convinced Prussia to back down when war threatened. Although succesful in adopting a democratic constitution, Fredericks's private life was quite another matter. He married three times. First with Wilhelmine Marie of Oldenburg in 1820. They separated in 1837. Second he mairred Caroline von Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1841. They divorced in 1846. Then he set up house with his mistress, a millner with a shady past. He eventually contracted a morganatic amrroage with her abd she was given the title of Louise, Countess von Danner Rasmussen in 1850. Despite these three marriages, Frederick had no heirs. Apparently Frederick was impotent. When one of his wives was inaccurately reported to be preganant, Ling Louis-Philippe is reported to have said, "Well, God bless the farther, whoever he may be." As a result, the niece of his father and her husband Christain succeded him.

Christian IX (1863-1906)

King Christian is often called the grandfather of Europe because of the number of his discendents who became monarchs. Strangely this king who produced so many European monarchs, never even expected to be King of Denmark. He became king because his wife was a niece of King Christain VIII. Christian was born in 1818. Christian's father was Duke Frederick William of Schleswig-Holstein (1785- ). His mother was Princess Louise Wilhelmina von Hessen-Cassel (1789- ). By his father, he was a direct descendant of King Christian III of Denmark and his mother was a granddaughter of King Frederik V. Prince Christian studied at the Militar Academy of Cophenagen and he entered the Danish army in 1837. That same year he persued the young Queen of Engalnd, Victoria, who had just acceded the throne. ctoria instead chose Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg. Christian mairred Princess Louise Wilhelmina of Hesse-Casselin 1842. Christian produced two kings and a queen. His son Frederick succeded him as King of Denmark in 1906. His son Charles became King Haakon VII of Norway in 1905. His daughter Alexandra mairred the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and became Queen of England.

Frederick VIII (1906-1912)

Frederick was born in 1843, son of Christian IX, was born in Copenhagen and educated at Oxford University. He fought as a young man in the hopeless war war with Prussia and Austria in 1864 over Schleswig-Holstein. He continued to be interested in military affairs. He married Louise Josephine Eugénie of Sweden in 1869. Louise was a somewhat eccentric person whose major preoccupation was painting illuninations on vellum. They had eight children: 1870: Christian Carl Frederik Albert Alexander Wilhelm (1870- ), Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel (1872- ), Louise Caroline Josephine (1875- ), Harald Christian Frederik (1876- ), Ingeborg Charlotta Carolina (1878- ), Thyra Louise Caroline Amalie (1880- ), Gustav (1887- ), Dagmar Louise Elisabeth (1890- ). He reigned for a relatively brief 6 years. He died in Hamburg Germany in 1912. He was succeeded by his son Christian X. Another son became king Haakon VII of Norway.


Figure 2.--This photograph of 1909 shows Crown Princess (not pictured) came to the throne as King Christian X in 1912, perhaps the bmost beloved of all Danish kings. The boy standing later succeeded his brother as King Frederick IX (1947-1972). His daughter is the present Queen Margarethe. The seated boy is Prince Knud.

Christian X (1912-1947)

Christian X was born in 1870 at Charlottenlund. He married Queen Alexandrine, born Hertuginde, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1898. They had two sons. Frederick the Crown Prince was born in 1898. Knud was born in 1900. Some of the major achievements of his reign were a new democratic constitution granting the vote to women and the sale of the Virgin Islands to the United States. After the German invasion in 1940 the King led his people in passive resistance to attempts to bring the Danes into the NAZI order. The King's bravery was an inspiration to the Danish people, one of the few countries to have sdome success in resisting the Germans. This was in part possible because the Germans with their racially based world view were unwilling to be as brutal in Denmark as they were in other countries like Poland

Frederik IX (1947-72)

King Frederik IX was born in 1898. His whole life centered on the sea and music. The King was educated as a Navy Officer as well as an Orchestra Conductor. He married Queen Ingrid (born in Sweden in 1910). Their eldest daughter, Margrethe Alexandrine Torhildur Ingrid, was born on April 16, 1940, during the dark days following the German invasion. The popular Crown Prince and his consort, stayed with the King in German to face the Germans with his people. Hitler's troops had invaded defenceless Denmark on April 6 (only months after signing a non-aggression pact) in preparation for the invasion of Norway. The birth of the little princess acquired a symbolic value as a ray of hope in a time of darkness. During the war years, Frederik the IX and Crown Princess Ingrid were very active instrengthening the Danish identity. They travelled all over the Danish realm (i.e. Faerorene and Greenland) and this became a major part of their lives as a Royal Family when peace finally arrived. When King Frederik and Queen Ingrid never had a son, the throne was destined to go to his brother's eldest son--Ingolf. But after the Danish referendum by the people, the law was changed and from 1953 King Fredriks direct deescendant was secure--Margrethe II. But it could not then be foreseen that Margrethe might become Denmark's first queen regnant. The Danish constitution did not permit a woman to succeed to the throne. It was not until an amendment to the constitution was adopted in 1953 that a referendum approved the introduction of female succession. It was a popular choice. In King Frederik, a man with the common touch and a gift for music, and in his wise and dignified consort, Queen Ingrid, Denmark had a royal couple who were loved and respected. And now their eldest daughter had to learn the craft of queenship. Her apprenticeship was planned with care and rofessionalism. A modern queen must possess many skills, and it is generally agreed that on the throne of Denmark there sits one of the world's best­trained monarchs.


Figure 3.--King Fredeik IX and Queen Ingrid are shown here with their their three girls. The eldest became Queen Margrethe. They are dressed in folk costume.

Margrethe II (1972- )

Since 1972 Queen Margrethe II has reigned the country. First of all she is taking care of her officialduties as the Queen. She is married to a Frenchman and has two sons. But at the same time Queen Margrethe is a very modern queen: She is a painter, ascenographer, a writer, a speaker, a translator and a debater ofsocial issues. Crown Prince of Denmark (born 26 May 1968) will be the first Danish king with a university degree. On completing his studies in political science and constitutional law at the University of Ċrhus, Crown Prince Frederik can add the letters a Master's Degree in Political Science (M.Sc.) to the titles he was born with. This tells us something not only about the Prince's abilities and ambitions, but also about the demands that will be made upon a future head of state in an ancient monarchy, where the monarch does not sit purely symbolically at the head of the table in the Council of State, but where the survival of kingship has been placed in the hands of the personality who is expected both to preserve and to renew the tradition. Like his mother, the Crown Prince has been given a tthorough all­round education. But the Queen and Prince Henrik have always stressed that he must find the boots that fit him best. Crown Prince Frederik and his brother Prince Joachim (born June 7, 1969) attended a private school, and they both matriculated from regaard Secondary School (1986). The Crown Prince served with the Royal Lifeguards, then continued his career with the Regiment of Hussars, where he is now a first­lieutenant of the Reserve.






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Created: June 6, 1998
Last updated: 4:22 AM 7/7/2016