Great exhibitions in Denmark

The 50th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Margrethe II and the 50th birthday of Crown Princess Mary have inspired several Danish museums to organize royal exhibitions. I was planning to travel to Denmark in September for the celebration of the jubilee (10-11 September). But as at least two exhibitions already end in August, I might even travel before that, if Covid-19 allows it. Have I already told you Denmark is one of my most favourite countries?

Dannebrog in Stockholm, June 2010 / Photo: Netty Leistra

Dannebrog – Kongeskib i 90 år (Dannebrog – Royal ship for 90 years)

Queen Margrethe II herself opened this exhibition at the Maritime Museum of Denmark in Helsingør (Elsinore) on 8 February 2022. It will be on display until 21 August 2022. The fascinating exhibition about the Danish “floating castle” gives the public an insight into life on board – from the daily lives of the crew to the private lives of the Royal Family at sea. The museum says that when the ship comes into port on its annual voyages around Denmark as well as to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, the monarch meets his people, who welcome her/him and show off their local area. In other words, the Dannebrog binds the whole kingdom together, and also provides the framework for the royal family’s life at sea. It is a personal home, has served as school ship and is a symbol of royal power.

On display are the sailor suits of Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim from the 1970s, the Queen’s watercolours and the Danes’ memories, as well as models of various royal ships through the ages. The exhibition also shows the importance of the Royal Yacht for the royal power in Denmark, and not least for The Queen’s relationship with her father, Frederik IX. Photographs from the Royal Family’s private photo album give an insight into the Queen’s childhood, when the summer days on board also left time for dress-up games and other fun.The people who visited and used the ship are given their say through quotations and anecdotes. For example, the crew’s guests talk about their daily work. The museum has also collected stories of Danes about their personal encounters with the Royal Yacht, giving visitors a unique insight into the Royal Yacht’s significance for individual Danes.

H.K.H. Kronprinsesse Mary 1972-2022 (H.R.H. Crown Princess Mary 1972-2022)

Crown Princess Mary herself has been rather busy recently. On 3 February she – in presence of her family – opened this exhibition at the Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, that opened for the public the next day and will be on show until 31 August 2022. She also unveiled the new portrait of her for the museum’s collection, created by the Spanish artist Jesús Herrera Martínez, who since a few years lives in Denmark. The museum itself says about the exhibition: The exhibition communicates Crown Princess Mary’s upbringing, her marriage to the Crown Prince and the duties and tasks she performs. This is put into perspective through the exhibition’s initial overview of crown princesses throughout Danish history, and how they have helped shape Denmark. It also tells the story of how princesses have traditionally been raised and educated, with examples of the fates of Danish princesses who married heirs to the thrones of other countries, thus becoming crown princesses abroad. There are similarities and differences in relation to the crown princess’ role today.

En dronnings smykkeskrin – 50 år på tronen fortalt i smykker (A Queen’s Jewellery Box – 50 years on the throne told through jewellery)

The exhibition was supposed to be opened on 13 January 2022, but restrictions because of Covid-19 were not lifted until a few days later. Only on 21 January Queen Margrethe II and her family could come to open this exhibition at the Amalienborg Museum in Christian VIII’s Palace, Copenhagen. The exhibition can be visited until 23 October. Of course it might be that items being on display, will be removed temporarily, because they are still in use by the Queen herself. More than 200 well-known and lesser-known pieces of jewellery from the Queen’s collection can be seen. To Queen Margrethe II jewellery is not just jewellery.Each piece is a symbol, that carries a story and references to one or several private or official events during the Queen’s 50-year reign.

Among the items on display is the brooch the Queen wore when her ascension to the throne was an-nounced on the balcony at Christiansborg Palace on 15 January 1972, and the Daisy brooch, which is a gift from her mother Queen Ingrid on Queen Margrethe’s 60th birthday in 2000. There is also jewellery that was given by Prince Henrik to his wife on special occasions. The Queen also has access to a large collection of historic jewellery, including the Pearl Poire set. She however also owns pieces of jewellery that she has bought herself because she liked the colour, and a pair of plastic earrings bought in a local shop in Gråsten is on display. The Danish audio guide of the exhibition has been narrated by the Queen herself.

Mary & Kronprinsesserne (Mary & The Crown Princesses)

At the Koldinghus in Kolding Crown Princess Mary, accompanied by her husband, on 31 January opened this exhibition, that will run until 30 December. The exhibition paints a portrait of the present Danish Crown Princess and her four predecessors in the Glücksborg dynasty: the princesses Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Lovisa of Sweden-Norway, Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Ingrid of Sweden. Mary has filled this role for 18 years now, having lived in Denmark for 20 years this year. The Crown Princess herself comments on these years on a lifelike 1:1 projection on the walls and guides the visitors on a journey through the history of her predecessors and the House of Glücksborg. She herself is the only one not to come from a royal background.

On display are among other the famous ruby set, the blue dress and the headband that the Crown Princes wore for Prince Christian’s christening in 2006. Also shown are personal photos of the Crown Princess from travels throughout the Danish Realm, family life and her work for her patronages. The main theme of the exhibition is what it means to be a crown princess: what is expected, how have her predecessors approached the task, and how does one prepare for ultimately becoming queen and taking on a new role? She herself says:

“A crown princess faces the challenge of occupying an absolutely central position in a foreign country. You need to learn a new language and a new culture while under close public scrutiny – and you are keenly aware of how much there is to live up to. But you also have great opportunity for shaping your own role.”

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