The Crown of Christian V

The crowns and associated regalia of the Danish kings and queens are exhibited at Rosenborg Castle.

Christian 5.s salving, Frederiksborg Slotskirke
Christian 4.s krone udført af guldsmed Dirich Fyring i Odense 1595-96. Guld med emalje, taffelsten og perler

The Crown of Christian V

The crown as a symbol of power and dignity goes back to the ancient Roman victory garland, known as a ¨corona¨. The crowns and associated regalia of the Danish kings and queens are exhibited at Rosenborg Castle.

Denmark’s oldest crown dates from 1596 and was used by Christian IV. But the best-known is Christian V’s crown, which was produced in 1671 for Denmark’s second absolute monarch. It was used in succession by all the kings from Christian V to Christian VIII. The image of the crown is found at the top of  both the Royal Danish coat of arms and the Danish state’s coat of arms.

The crown, which weighs more than two kilos, was created by the German goldsmith, Paul Kurtz, who worked in Copenhagen. The crown is made of gold and decorated with flat, table-cut stones and enamel pieces. Its rounded braces create a closed form inspired by the crown of  the French king, Louis XIV, and symbolise the ruler’s absolute power. The crown’s braces meet at the top in a globe, or orb, which is a sign of power and dignity for monarchs. On top of the crown’s globe is a little cross, which in the symbolic language of the time showed that only the church stood above The Crown.  

The crown is decorated with various gems in the form of intertwining rows of diamonds, sapphires, and garnets. Seen at the top of the cross is a so-called corundum, which is a sapphire with a stripe of ruby, and on the crown’s front is a square block of stone with Christian V’s monogram in gold thread. It is believed that the crown’s gems are reused from older jewellery. Among other things, the sapphire on the crown’s front can be traced back to Frederik I and was presumably a gift to his father, Christian I, from the Duke of Milan in 1474.
Christian V’s crown was last used for Christian VIII’s anointment in 1840. In 1849, the crown became ceremonially superfluous when Denmark adopted a constitutional monarchy, abolished the absolute monarchy and no longer crowned and anointed the regent. Christian V’s crown is still used when a monarch dies. It sits on the coffin under the so-called castrum doloris. The last time was for Frederik IX’s death in 1972.

Castrum doloris, which in Latin means ¨pain’s bed¨ or ¨pain’s castle¨, is the name for the stage-like structure on which a prominent person’s coffin is placed before the actual burial. The custom, which goes back to papal burials in the 1300s, became a part of the royal burial ceremony in Denmark after introduction of the absolute monarchy in 1660. In 1670, Frederik III was the first to lay in state in this manner; Frederik IX was the most recent in 1972. The castrum doloris is the only ceremony from the absolute monarchy that is still implemented in virtually unchanged form and the last ceremony in which the Danish crown jewels are still used, when they are laid on the coffin. During the regent’s castrum doloris, the three silver lions retrieved from Rosenborg Castle sit and watch over the coffin.

For further information, visit the website of The Royal Danish Collections.

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