The Danish monarchy has existed for more than 1000 years and is among the oldest royal houses in the world. Read more about the successive monarchs in Denmark all the way from Gorm the Old to the present sovereign, Queen Margrethe II
Gorm the Old d. latest 987
Harald Bluetooth d. 1014
Sweyn Forkbeard 1014-1018
Harald II 1018-1035
Canute the Great 1035-1042
Magnus the Good 1047-1074
Sweyn Estridsen 1074-1080
Harald Hén 1080-1086
Canute the Holy 1086-1095
Oluf Hunger 1095-1103
Eric Egode 1104-1134
Erik Emune 1137-1146
Eric Lamb 1146-1157
Sweyn Grathe, Valdemar the Great Canute V 1157-1182
Valdemar I the Great 1182-1202
Canute VI 1202-1241
Valdemar the Victorious 1241-1250
Eric Ploughpenny 1250-1252
Christopher I 1259-1286
Eric Clipping 1286-1320
Eric Menved 1319-1332
Christopher II 1332-1340
Valdemar IV Atterdag 1375-1387
Oluf II 1387-1412
Margrete I 1412-1439
Eric of Pomerania
Christopher of Bavaria 1448-1481
Christian I 1482-1513
Christian II 1523-1533
Frederik I 1533-1534
Christian III 1559-1588
Frederik II 1588-1648
Christian IV 1648-1670
Frederik III 1670-1699
Christian V 1699-1730
Frederik IV 1730-1746
Christian VI 1746-1766
Frederik V 1766-1808
Christian VII 1808-1839
Frederik VI 1839-1848
Christian VIII 1848-1863
Frederik VII 1863-1906
Christian IX 1906-1912
Frederik VIII 1912-1947
Christian X 1947-1972
Frederik IX Since 1972
Son of: Christian 10. and Queen Alexandrine, born Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Married: 24 May 1935 to Princess Ingrid Victoria Sofia Louise Margareta, born 1910, daughter of Crown Prince Gustav Adolf, later King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden (1882-1973) and Crown Princess Margaretha (1882-1920)
Children: Princesses: Margrethe (II), Benedikte and Anne-Marie
The King's reign coincided with one of the greatest and swiftest periods of change in the history of Denmark. During these years, Danish society shook off the restrictions of an agricultural society marked by scarcity and developed at breakneck speed towards a welfare state characterised by abundance. Simultaneously, in the light of the experience gained from the Second World War, the former policy of neutrality was replaced by a policy of actively joining alliances. Furthermore, as a consequence of the booming economy of the 1960s, women entered the labour market and achieved in decisive areas the equality that their mothers and grandmothers had fought for over the years. In other words, Denmark became a modern country, which meant altogether new demands on the monarchy and its ability to adjust.
Tactfully supported by the Queen, King Frederik IX with a definite sense of the requirements of the day carried through the change of the monarchy from a distant, elevated institution to a general, symbolic image of the levelling out of class distinctions, which was a result of the modernisation of society.
The King's behaviour was cheerful and straightforward, and he possessed the gift of being able to deal with all people with natural friendliness and warmth without jeopardising the inherent dignity of a monarch. He was helped in this through his training as an officer of the navy with its binding but informal environment, which he felt strongly related to throughout his life. Before he became King, he had acquired the rank of Rear-Admiral and he had had several senior commands on active service. In addition, with his great love of music the King was an able piano player and conductor.
Due to the relaxed and loving tone in the Royal Family, which the King and Queen in contrast to previous tradition were prepared to give the public an idea of, the Royal Family in the reign of Frederik IX became a popular reflection of the typical Danish family as it developed in line with the modernisation of society. Shortly after the King had delivered his New Year's Address to the Nation at the 1971/72 turn of the year, he fell seriously ill. His death following a short period of illness was felt as a great loss by the Danish population, which to an unprecedented extent had taken the King and his family to heart.
King of Denmark from 1912 to 1947 and of Iceland until 1944
Motto: "My God, my Country, my Honour"
Born: 26 September 1870
Son of: Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa
Married: 26 April 1898 to Duchess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1879-1952)
Children: Prince Frederik (IX) and Prince Knud
As the first of the House of Glücksborg, Prince Christian was born to succeed to the throne, and everything was done to prepare him for his future task as King. In 1889, he was the first heir to the throne to pass the upper secondary examination. His subsequent education was, however, in line with the family tradition, characterised by the military, which impacted heavily on his personality. He always saw himself as a whole-heartedly committed soldier. When Frederik VIII died in 1912, Crown Prince Christion succeeded to the throne. Thus, the two World Wars marked the beginning and the end of his long reign.
At first, the King had some difficulty in coming to terms with the parliamentary system, which had been introduced with the Change of System in 1901. This led to several clashes with the political leaders, culminating in Prime Minister Zahle's resignation after a heated exchange of words with the King and the following Easter Crisis of 1920, which for a few critical days put the continued existence of the monarchy at risk. Subsequently, the King fully accepted his constitutional role, and he never again acted without full parliamentary support. During the turbulent political climate of the 1930s, the King stood by the Government and Rigsdag (Danish Parliament) in the fight against the totalitarian movements.
The foundation of the King's later position as a national rallying point was established in connection with the festivities over the reunification with North Schleswig in 1920 and was strengthened during the Royal Couple's many travels throughout the country. When Denmark was occupied by German troops on 9 April 1940, the King won the hearts of the population by continuing his daily rides through the streets of Copenhagen. The image of the tall, upright royal figure on horseback, and the King's dignified, but reserved behaviour towards the representatives of the occupation became in the years of occupation the very symbol of courage and unity between the King and his people. The King's 70th birthday a few months after the beginning of the occupation was a grand popular manifestation of these feelings.
In October 1942, the King suffered a fall from his horse during his daily ride. This caused permanent damage to his health, and only rarely did he appear in public after the accident. He attended the reopening of the Rigsdag on 9 May 1945, in a wheelchair and was visibly weakened. On 20 April 1947, he died quietly. On the occasion of the castrum doloris, an armlet worn by members of the WW II Resistance Movement was placed on his coffin.
King of Denmark from 1906 to 1912
Motto: "The Lord is my Help"
Born: 3 June 1843
Son of: Christian IX and Queen Louise, born Princess of Hessen-Kassel
Married: 28 July 1869 to Princess Lovisa of Sweden (1851-1926)
Children: Prince: Christian (10.), Carl (who was crowned King Haakon VII of Norway in 1905), Harald and Gustav. Princesses: Louise, Ingeborg, Thyra and Dagmar
When His father became King in 1863, Crown Prince Frederik entered the State Council where he actively supported the King's fruitless opposition to the coming into effect of the November Constitution. Apart from this, he was in general reduced to the role of a passive onlooker during his 43 years as Crown Prince because the King almost consistently kept him out of affairs of state.
Crown Prince Frederik had had a military education, but throughout life he had taken a keen interest in politics and was a declared supporter of the parliamentary system, which his father remained opposed to for so long. The provisional legislation, i.e. the adoption of provisional Finance Bills against the majority of the Folketing (Danish Parliament), was in his opinion directly dangerous for society as well as the monarchy. He sympathised openly with the efforts of the supporters of rapprochement, which eventually led to the political Change of System of 1901.
After the death of his father in 1906, Frederik VIII succeeded to the throne at the age of 63, and subsequently developed cooperation based on confidence with the changing Venstre (Liberal) Governments. He was particularly interested in the defence issue as a result of the growing danger of a major war. The half-hearted defence agreement of 1909 was therefore a great disappointment to him.
In his relations with people, Frederik VIII like his father was kind and unobtrusive, and he soon became popular both with politicians and with the population at large. However, he did not reign for long. For quite some time he had suffered from heart problems. While staying in Hamburg in 1912 on his way home from Nice where he had visited a health resort, he died all of a sudden during one of the anonymous, unaccompanied city walks that he had always enjoyed. It meant that he was spared the experience of the large-scale war whose ominous shadow had loomed over his reign. It meant, at the same time, that society took finally leave of the old order whose last death throes coincided with the rule of Frederik VIII.
King of Denmark from 1863 to 1906
Motto: "With God for Honour and Justice"
Born: 8 April 1818
Son of: Duke Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderborg-Glücksborg and Princess Louise Caroline of Hessen-Kassel
Married 26 May 1842 to Princess Louise of Hessen-Kassel (1817-1898)
Children: Princes: Frederik (VIII), Wilhelm (George I), and Valdemar. Princesses: Alexandra, Dagmar and Thyra
When it became clear that Frederik VII would have no heir to the throne, the great powers with the Treaty of London in 1852 accepted that the throne passed to his relative, Prince Christian of Glücksborg, who belonged to a branch of the Royal House of Oldenburg. In accordance with the Act of Succession of 1853, he was officially appointed as successor to the throne. From 1831, he had lived permanently in Copenhagen where he had made a career for himself as an officer of the Royal Horse Guard.
As the first representative of the House of Glücksborg, Christian IX became King in November 1863 at a very difficult moment in time. The late King had not managed to sign the November Constitution, which had just been adopted. It was a special constitution for the joint affairs of Denmark and Schleswig, which in violation of the agreements concluded by the great powers would tie Schleswig more closely to Denmark. When the new King, therefore, refused to sign this new constitution, his nationalist feelings and loyalty to Denmark were much disputed, especially by the National Liberals. Under this pressure, he decided to sign the November Constitution. Very soon the King's reservations proved all too justified. The result was the War of 1864 and the subsequent loss of the two duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. The first part of his reign was stongly marked by this national catastrophe.
The King's support for Højre (right-wing political party) and Prime Minister Estrup throughout the following decades of entrenched constitutional fights made him, in the beginning, unpopular among broad segments of the population. However, gradually the King and the people became one in a joint effort to make the most of the difficult situation after 1864. When the King eventually bowed to the demand for Parliamentarism and appointed a government of Venstre (liberal political party) in 1901, his popularity increased substantially. During his last few remaining years' reign, the King enjoyed much popular sympathy for his always correct and quiet behaviour. His death in 1906 gave rise to general national mourning.
This development was also due to Queen Louise, born Princess of Hessen-Kassel (1817-98, married 1842). With an eye to the future, she arranged her daughters' marriages in such a manner that the Danish Royal House obtained dynastic connections with the most important European royal and princely houses. Thus, Alexandra married Edward VII of Great Britain, Dagmar became Empress of Russia through her marriage to Tsar Alexander III of Russia, and the third daughter, Thyra, married Duke Ernest Augustus of Cumberland, heir to the Kingdom of Hanover. In addition, the King's second-oldest son, Vilhelm, became King of the Hellenes in 1863 under the name of George I, whereas the King's grandson, Prince Carl, became King of Norway in 1905 under the name of Haakon VII. All these many connections may not have had much political significance. However, especially throughout the summers of the 1880s, there were great gatherings of Europe's most important ruling royalty and princes during the so-called Fredensborg Days at the residence of "Europe's parents-in-law", the Danish King and Queen.