From the 15th century, Copenhagen Castle gradually became the main royal residence. Around 1730, it was replaced by Christiansborg. After this palace burnt down in 1794, the king moved to Amalienborg, which is still the main residence. However, the royal wing of the rebuilt Christiansborg still contains the state apartments, which are used for instance for official gala dinners, royal parties, the annual New Year levees and the Queen’s public audiences.
The Main Royal Residence
The Amalienborg complex was originally four, externally identical, noblemen’s palaces, symmetrically placed around an octagonal palace yard with the equestrian statue of Frederik V, by the French sculptor J.F.J. Saly, in the centre. The large complex was constructed as the centre of Frederiksstaden, the new upper class quarter of Copenhagen, laid out in 1748 as part of the tribute to the House of Oldenborg on the occasion of its 300th anniversary on the Danish throne. Since then, the four palaces have by turns served as residences for the reigning monarch.
Today, one of them (Moltke’s or Christian VII’s Palace) is fitted up as a guest palace and mainly used for ceremonial purposes. The others are the residences of the Queen and her husband (Schack’s or Christian IX’s Palace) and the Crown Prince and his wife (Levetzau’s or Christian VIII’s Palace). Once its refurbishment is completed, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will move to Brockdorff’s Palace (Frederik VIII’s Palace), which was formerly the residence of Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid.
With the Yellow Palace, located immediately next to the Amalienborg complex, the palaces also house the various court functions.
Other Royal Residences
The favourite summer residence of the Queen and her husband is Fredensborg in North Zealand. This country seat, architecturally inspired by Italian baroque, was built by Frederik IV in 1720-1722 to mark the end of the Great Nordic War.
The beautifully situated palace has since been used to a varying extent as a summer residence by successive monarchs. It was probably used most frequently by Christian IX, who every summer during the ‘Fredensborg Days’ would summon his large family from the European princely houses to informal gatherings at the palace. Today, it is also used for gala dinners in connection with state visits and festive celebrations of family occasions in the royal house.
Finally, the Queen and Prince Consort have at their disposal Marselisborg in South Århus, which serves as their residence when they are in Jutland. This baroque-inspired palace was built in 1899-1902 by order of Århus City Council and presented to Prince Christian (X) and Princess Alexandrine as a national gift after their marriage in 1898.
The small palace of Rosenborg in the centre of Copenhagen and Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerød - both built by Christian IV in the early 17th century – have also periodically been used as royal residences. They are now museums.
Rosenborg contains the Danish Kings’ Chronological Collection, while Frederiksborg, which was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1859, has been converted into a museum of national history.
The royal residences also include Gråsten Palace in southern Jutland. In 1936, it was presented by the Danish state to the newly married Crown Prince Frederik (IX) and Crown Princess Ingrid as a summer residence.
Knud J. V. Jespersen, Professor, dr. phil.