The Royal Collection: Treasures and castles of the Danish Royal family
By Trine Jensen-Martin | Photos: The Royal Collection
Visiting the three castles in the Royal Collection is a fantastic opportunity to experience some of the extraordinary treasures and history of the Danish Royal Family, past and present. Entering the breathtaking palaces is like taking a step back in time, while the current exhibitions bring you back to the present day.
“This is a very special year for Denmark and for us,” explains museum director Thomas C. Thulstrup. “In 2022, we celebrate 50 years of sovereignty for HRH Queen Margrethe and the 50th birthday of Crown Princess Mary.”
The Royal Collection is marking the occasions with two special exhibitions honouring these remarkable women.
Three very different castles
Rosenborg castle in central Copenhagen was built in the early 17th century as a summer residence for King Christian IV. For over 400 years, the Royal Danish Lifeguard has protected the most precious treasures of the Kings and Queens of Denmark at Rosenborg, including the crown jewels, so stunning that they alone are worth a visit.
The castle itself is remarkable, and the surrounding Kongens Have (‘the king’s garden’) is magnificent all year round. Rosenborg truly is one of the most striking remaining palaces of the Danish Royal family.
Amalienborg is one of the four palaces that make up Christian VIII’s Palace, and it has been the main residence of the Royal Family in Copenhagen since the late 18th century. Here, you can visit the Queen’s Reference Library, look inside Christian X’s study, visit the Fabergé Chamber and, finally, see the Gala Hall, which is still to this day used by the Royal Family on special occasions.
Koldinghus, meanwhile, is over 750 years old and was for many centuries the most important royal castle in Denmark. It was an intentionally menacing presence towering over the city of Kolding, guarding the country’s southern borders. The castle burnt down in 1808 and was for years reduced to a romantic ruin.
Today, however, Koldinghus is a modern museum and host to large international exhibitions. It attracts visitors from all over the world, to experience the splendour of the building’s prize-winning restorations, the exhibitions, the view from Kæmpetårnet (‘the giant tower’), and lunch in renowned restaurant Madkælderen.
The language of jewellery
“The Royal Collection is more than the castles and the treasures within,” explains Thulstrup. “It is a glimpse into the lives of the Danish Royal Family, both historically and present day.”
This is particularly evident in two current exhibitions. The extraordinary A Queen’s Jewellery Box – 50 years on the throne told in jewellery, at Amalienborg, celebrates the golden jubilee of the Queen, her life and reign. It tells the story of the young princess from ascension to today through her own deliberate use of jewellery.
“The exhibition highlights a particular form of communication for the Queen that many may not be aware of,” says Thulstrup. “To the Queen, jewellery is not just a decorative element that has to match a given dress or outfit. When she wears a particular piece of jewellery, it contains a reference to these memories, and nothing is left to chance when the Queen chooses what jewellery to wear.”
One such piece on display is the brooch she wore on her ascension to the throne on 15 January 1972, a now-iconic horseshoe-shaped brooch, which was a gift from her father to mark his signing of the revised Constitution that made her his successor.
A long line of strong women
Koldinghus also houses a special exhibition about Crown Princess Mary and four previous crown princesses of Denmark. This is a celebration of the Crown Princess’s 50th birthday and her role. “We are focusing on both the official role and the opportunities that follow,” Thulstrup says. “Through unique historical and private material and, crucially, the words of Crown Princess Mary, it becomes clear that the crown princesses in the Glücksborg dynasty are incredibly strong women.”
The exhibition explores what it means to be a part of a Royal family, what the role requires of you privately and publicly, and the many opportunities to influence and to do good. All these women have made a difference to the lives of many people and to Denmark. The current Crown Princess is an exceptional example of this, so it is fitting that the exhibition is in celebration of her 50th birthday, as well as a look back through the history of the Royal Family that she joined in 2004 before becoming the Crown Princess of Denmark.
The Royal Collection offers a unique way of experiencing and learning more about the cultural institution that is the Royal Family, and how it has shaped Denmark. The historic and current perspectives of the exhibitions make Rosenborg, Amalienborg and Koldinghus exciting and relevant places to visit time and again.
A Queen’s Jewellery Box – 50 years on the throne told through jewellery 14 January to 23 October 2022, Amalienborg Museum, Christian VIII’s Palace Mary & Kronprinsesserne 1 February to 30 December 2022, Koldinghus Tickets to exhibitions are available online. Web: www.kongernessamling.dk Facebook: Koldinghus, Rosenborg, Amalienborg Instagram: @koldinghus @rosenborgcastle @amalienborgmuseum
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