The Royal Family’s clothing is private property, but over the past 400 years the Royal House has given the most valuable and historically-interesting clothes to The Danish Kings’ Chronological Collections at Rosenborg Castle and Amalienborg. The clothes often bear traces of use – and reuse – and tell about the development of fashion, tailoring and textile production from the 1600s until today.
The clothes are often fragile and shown only in special exhibitions. However, the public can view some of the collection’s oldest pieces in Rosenborg Castle’s permanent exhibit: Christian IV’s bloodstained and shrapnel-riddled clothes, which he wore in the battle at Kolberger Heide in 1644, when his ship, The Trinity, was hit by a Swedish cannonball. The clothing was kept by the king himself as symbolic proof of his strength and ability to survive. It is shown together with the king’s bloody pillowcase and the earrings he had made for his mistress, Vibeke Kruse, from the cannonball splinter removed from his blinded eye.
In the museum’s depots, clothes from the succeeding kings, their queens and children are kept. Among the items are Frederik IV’s valuable carnival outfit with gold fringe, which he had made of fabric from his Venice visit, and Christian VII’s grand coronation outfit. From the beginning of the 1600s, it had been customary for a new king to dress himself in an especially expensive coronation outfit, designed so that he resembled a nobleman from the end of the 1500s. Additionally, the king wore the well-known red coronation robe with expensive ermine lining and gold embroidery. The traditional form of the outfit, the robe and the whole coronation ceremony lasted nearly 300 years in Denmark until the last coronation in 1840.
Among the things preserved from the queens’ wardrobes are Queen Alexandrine’s gown from her wedding to the future Christian X and, from the court’s clothing, a funny flower hat, which the king’s runners or servers wore until 1972. The newest transfers from the Royal House to the museum are around 200 of Queen Ingrid’s everyday and gala dresses along with more than 100 items of baby and children’s clothes belonging to Queen Ingrid and princesses Margrethe, Benedikte and Anne-Marie. The children’s clothes were found carefully packed and accompanied by explanatory notes in the attic of Frederik VIII’s palace, where Queen Ingrid once lived. They include, among other things, embroidered dresses and coats, national costumes, small silk shoes and fine costume ball outfits from the beginning of the 1900s along with the princesses’ everyday clothes from the post-war period era and the dress that Princess Josephine wore for her christening on April 4, 2011.