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The History of the Danish Monarchy

The Danish Monarchy can be traced back with certainty to Gorm the Old (d. 958). The monarchy was originally elective, but in practice the election normally fell on the eldest son of the reigning Monarch. In return, the King had to sign a Coronation Charter, which regulated the balance of power between himself and his people. When absolutism was introduced in 1660-1661, the elective monarchy was replaced by hereditary monarchy.

The succession, which was based on the principle of male primogeniture, was laid down in the Royal Decree of 1665. The democratic constitution of 5 June 1849 changed the monarchy's status from absolute to constitutional. The Act of Succession of 27 March 1953 introduced the possibility of female succession, which enabled the current reigning Queen to accede the throne.

The direct lineage of the ancient Danish dynasty became extinct with the death of Christoffer 3. in 1448. Duke Christian of Oldenborg was chosen as his successor and became King of Denmark the same year, taking the name Christian I. He belonged to one of the collateral branches of the original dynasty and became the founder of the Royal Family of Oldenborg which reigned until 1863, when the last sovereign of that line, Frederik VII, died without issue.

In accordance with the Act of Succession of 1853, the throne passed therefore to his relative, Prince Christian of Glücksborg, who in direct male lineage, descended from the Royal House. On the death of Frederik VII, he acceded the throne as Christian 9., and became the first monarch of the current House of Glücksborg on the Danish throne. Christian 9. eventually became known as 'the Father-in-law of Europe', because his daughter Princess Alexandra married Edward 7. of England, another daughter Princess Dagmar married Czar Alexander 3. of Russia and yet another, Thyra, married Duke Ernst August of Cumberland. In 1863 his son Vilhelm became King of the Hellenes (known now as Greece) and used the name, George 1.; and in 1905 Christian 9.'s grandson Carl became King of Norway as Haakon VII. The Danish Royal House was thus directly related to many of Europe's reigning Royal Houses.

Christian 9.'s son, Frederik VIII, was 63 years of age when he finally acceded the throne in 1906. At his death in 1912 he was succeeded by his eldest son, Christian 10., who reigned Denmark throughout both World Wars. He is best remembered as the "Equestrian King", known for his horseback ride across the old border into the province of North Schleswig, after its reunion with Denmark in 1920. King Christian 10. became very popular during the German occupation of Denmark in 1940-1945. Every day he mounted his big white horse and rode on horseback through the streets of Copenhagen.

Christian 10. died in 1947 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Frederik 9. who had married the Swedish Princess Ingrid in 1935. They had three daughters, Princess Margrethe (born 1940), Princess Benedikte (born 1944) and Princess Anne-Marie (born 1946).

Tasks and Duties
Denmark has a Constitutional Monarchy, which means that the monarch cannot independently perform political acts. Although the monarch signs all Acts of Parliament, these only come into force when they have been countersigned by a Cabinet Minister. As Head of State, the monarch participates in the formation of a new government.

After consultation with representatives of the political parties, the Party Leader who has the support of the largest number of seats in the Folketing, (the Danish Parliament), is invited to form a government. Once it has been formed, the monarch will formally appoint it. Additionally, it is the monarch who is the formal Head of the Government and therefore presides over the State Council, where the Acts which have been passed by the Folketing, are signed into law.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs report regularly to The Queen to advise her of the latest political developments. The Queen hosts official visits by foreign Heads of State and pays State Visits abroad. She receives every Ambassador from foreign countries and also formally appoints and dismisses civil servants.

The Queen's main tasks are to represent Denmark abroad and to be a figurehead at home. The Queen performs the latter task by accepting invitations to open exhibitions, attending anniversaries, inaugurating bridges etc. Exhibition openings abroad in connection with export campaigns are often also attended by members of the Royal Family.