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1. Official Denmark
1.1 The Royal House

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1.1.1 From Elective to Hereditary Monarchy
1.1.2 Constitutional Monarchy
1.1.3 Margrethe II
1.1.4 Henrik
1.1.5 Frederik
1.1.6 Joachim and Alexandra

By a Royal House, we understand in a broad sense the reigning monarch's family and relations, and in a narrower sense the circle of closely related royal persons who are subject to special rules. In the case of Denmark in 2001, this circle includes, in addition to Queen Margrethe II, the Royal Consort Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Joachim, his spouse Princess Alexandra and their son Prince Nikolai, as well as all the other princes and princesses in line of succession to the throne, together with their spouses. These persons may not travel abroad or enter into marriage without the permission of the Queen (the monarch).  

From Elective to Hereditary Monarchy    [top]

The Danish Royal House can be traced back to Gorm the Old (buried 958 in Jelling in Jutland) and his son Harald I, Bluetooth, who moved the royal residence to Zealand. These are the first two kings who with any certainty can be dated and located in connection with the unification of Denmark. The monarchy was an elective monarchy limited to the royal house, but not to the male line. Thus Sven II Estridsen, the nephew of Knud II, (Canute II) the Great, was the son of Knud's sister. The royal house culminated with the Valdemars, whose influence extended over most of the Baltic area, and again later with Queen Margrete I, who united Scandinavia in the Kalmar Union.

After the direct lines died out, Count Christian of Oldenborg was in 1448 elected Danish King under the name of Christian I; in addition he was elected Duke of Slesvig and Count of Holsten. He was descended over six generations, three of them on the distaff side, from the royal house. His direct successors, the House of Oldenborg adopted alternately the names of Frederik and Christian from the election in 1523 of Frederik I until Frederik VII died without issue in 1863. The elective monarchy existed until 1660/61, when Frederik III introduced a hereditary monarchy for Denmark and Norway. Among other things, the Act of Kingship laid down the conditions pertaining to the royal house, and these paragraphs remained in force after the introduction of a constitutional monarchy by Frederik VII under the terms of the Constitution of 5 June 1849.  

Constitutional Monarchy    [top]

Prince Christian of Glücksborg, who was descended in direct male line from the royal house, acceded to the throne as Christian IX on the death of Frederik VII in 1863. The throne thus passed to the House of Glücksborg.

Christian IX became known as the father-in-law of Europe, his daughter Alexandra being married to King Edward VII of Great Britain, his daughter Dagmar to Czar Alexander III of Russia, and his daughter Thyra to Duke Ernst August of Cumberland. When Christian IX's son Vilhelm had become King of the Hellenes in 1863 under the name of George I, a large proportion of the European royal houses could meet in Fredensborg Palace for family gatherings in the home of Christian IX. In 1905 his grandson Carl became King of Norway under the name of Haakon VII.

In 1906 Frederik VIII succeeded his father, but only reigned for a short time, dying in 1912. His eldest son, Christian X, reigned until 1947 and inscribed himself in history as the king who rode across the border into Southern Jutland in 1920, when Denmark recovered this territory lost in 1864, and who became the focus of national sentiment during the German occupation 1940-1945.

In 1935, his eldest son, the later Frederik IX, married Princess Ingrid of Sweden, the daughter of King Gustav VI Adolf. He succeeded to the throne in 1947 and his activities as king strengthened the constitutional monarchy, as he accepted that the king had no political power. As head of state, the monarch takes part in the formation of new governments, stands formally at the head of the government and represents Denmark abroad. The royal house's understanding of these circumstances and the family's close contact with the general population has meant that its position is firmly based and not a matter of discussion at a time when royal houses in other countries have caused a debate on the justification for a monarchy.

In the Act of Succession of 27 March 1953 the House of Glücksborg's right of succession was established, and according to this the throne passes to the successors of Christian X. According to the Act, sons have precedence over daughters, but if there are no sons, the throne is inherited by the eldest daughter. So after her father's death in 1972, Princess Margrethe could succeed to the throne as Margrethe II, the first woman monarch since the death of Margrete I in 1412.

Queen Margrethe II, who on 10 June 1967 married Henrik, Prince of Denmark, born Henri-Marie-Jean-André, Comte de Laborde de Monpezat in France, succeeded to the throne on 14 January 1972. The royal couple have two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim. In 1995 Prince Joachim married Princess Alexandra, born Alexandra Christina Manley, and together they have a son, Nikolai William Alexander Frederik.

The Queen has two sisters, Princess Benedikte, who is married to Richard, Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in Germany, and Princess Anne-Marie, married to ex-king Constantine of Greece.

Hans H. Worsøe

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