King Christian X, at the age of 41, assumed the throne from his father, Frederik VIII, in 1912 and was king of Denmark until his death in 1947. His long reign is thus framed by the two world wars.
The king was the first from the current dynasty, the Glücksborg line, to be born as heir to the throne. Furthermore, he was the first heir to the throne ever to earn a high school certificate, in 1889, but his subsequent education was in line with the family’s military-oriented tradition, with 22 years in The Royal Lifeguard.
In the beginning of his reign, the King had difficulty coming to terms with the parliamentary practices that were determined by system changes in 1901, and that led to multiple clashes with political leaders. The differences culminated in a heated discussion between the King and the prime minister at the time, Carl Theodor Zahle, which ended with the King’s dismissal of the entire Zahle government and appointment of a new administration led by his own lawyer, Otto Liebe.
Many radical and social democratic politicians and voters perceived this decision as being unconstitutional, and it resulted in the so-called Easter Crisis in 1920.
Otto Liebe’s brief administration was a caretaker government, whose sole function was the calling of a new election. But that task was not in Liebe’s lot to carry out, because after just a few days and after mutual agreement between the King and political leaders, his caretaker government was replaced with a transitional government. That government was led by public trustee Michael Pedersen Friis, who with political consent dissolved parliament and called new elections.
A few months after the Easter Crisis, the King rode over the border to the reunited region of Southern Jutland (North Slesvig) on a white horse and thereby in the public mind was transformed from a politicizing monarch into a symbol of national unity.
When Denmark was occupied by German troops on 9 April 1940, the King won popular support when he carried on with his daily horse rides in Copenhagen’s streets. That was in evidence, among other times, during the King’s 70 birthday a few months after the occupation when the Amalienborg Palace Square was filled with subjects who paid tribute to the King.
In October 1942, the King fell from his horse during the daily ride, and the fall caused a lasting impairment to his health. The King passed away quietly on 20 April 1947, and on the Castrum Doloris his coffin was decorated with a Danish resistance movement armband.
This year, it is 100 years since Christian X became king. Read more about the accession to the throne.
Published 24 July 2012
Published July 25, 2012