Books I’ve Read This Week: The Royal Family of Denmark

My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to read a book (or listen to an unabridged audiobook) every day: 365 books by December 31. I will post my reviews here each week and provide regular updates on Twitter and Goodreads. Recommendations are always welcome!

Week 38: The Royal Family of Denmark When I visited the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen this past summer, I was pleased to see that there is a new series of short biographies in both Danish and English about Denmark’s monarchs and royal residences. In recent weeks, I have read six volumes from the Crown series about 19th and 20th century Danish Kings and Queens as well as Rosenborg Castle and treasury. I also read a scholarly history book from the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy series, which examines the phenomemon of sailor princes in the 19th century, including Prince Waldemar of Denmark and his nephew, Prince George of Greece. Here are this week’s reviews:

#260 of 365 The ‘Sailor Prince’ in the Age of Empire: Creating a Monarchical Brand in Nineteenth-Century Europe  by Miriam Magdalena Schneider

Genre: History

Acquired: Borrowed from Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Dates Read: September 17-18, 2018

Format: E-Book, 318 pages

Review: A well researched and insightful analysis of four 19th century Princes who pursued naval careers: Prince Alfred of the United Kingdom (2nd son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert), Prince Heinrich of Germany (younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II), Prince Waldemar of Denmark (youngest son of King Christian IX) and Prince George of Greece (nephew of Prince Waldemar). These princes increased the popularity of their respective royal houses in the 19th century, became part of the celebrity culture of the era, cemented relationships between European and Asian royal houses, set precedents for the education of future royalty, and helped to connect global empires and communities. Schneider draws upon a broad range of sources and perspectives, revealing how complicated the lives and public images of these figures could be as they struggled to reconcile their identities as sailors and as princes. An essential book for anyone interested in 19th century European monarchies and their significance in a global context.

#261 of 365 Christian IX and Queen Louise: Europe’s Parents-in-Law by Jens Gunni Busck

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 20, 2018

Acquired: Purchased at the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A beautifully illustrated short biography of King Christian IX and Queen Louise, whose royal descendants include Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Christian came to the throne amidst complicated circumstances that are well explained in the book. A series of constitutional reforms, international treaties and contingencies within the royal families of Denmark, Russia and various German states allowed the fourth son of a minor Danish prince, and the daughter of Danish king’s sister to become King and Queen of Denmark. The transformation of Christian IX from a contested monarch unpopular because of military defeats and German connections in his extended family to the beloved father of the nation and father-in-law of Europe is also well developed.

I would have been interested to learn more about the family gatherings in Denmark when the British, Russian, Danish and Greek royal houses came together for long summer holidays. The author notes that “In fact we know nothing of what was talked about over cigars after dinner and it would have been odd if major European political issues had not been mentioned…” The illustrations are excellent and include photographs, portraits, a floral painting by Queen Louise, and the interiors of royal residences that demonstrate the couple’s personal asthetic and the design trends of the 19th century.

#262 of 365 Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa: The Overlooked Royal Couple by  Birgitte Louise Peiter Rosenhegn

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 20, 2018

Acquired: Purchased at the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: King Frederik VIII is a rare example of a past reigning monarch who is less well known today than his younger siblings. His sisters Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom (consort of King Edward VII), Empress Marie of Russia (consort of Czar Alexander III) and King George I of Greece (grandfather of Prince Philip) are all more famous as historical figures.

This short biography explains that there was far more to “The Eternal Crown Prince” than his brief time as King between the long reigns of his father Christian IX and son Christian X. Frederik had a key diplomatic role during his father’s reign, striking up an unlikely friendship with Crown Prince Frederick of Germany, and he devoted much of his time to charitable endeavours. His long incognito walks and ability to engage with people from all walks of life was sometimes criticized as “too folksy” for a future King of Denmark.

As the only child of King Charles XV of Sweden, Lovisa was a well known public figure in her own right and she became an accomplished amateur artist and intellectual. Both Frederik and Lovisa had a complicated relationship with Frederik’s more famous siblings and spent limited time at royal extended family gatherings instead carving out their own immediate family sphere. The book is beautifully illustrated with royal portraits and photographs as well as examples of Lovisa’s paintings and calligraphy.

#263 of 365 Christian X and Queen Alexandrine: Royal Couple Through the World Wars by Jens Gunni Busck

Genre: History/Biography

Date Read: September 22, 2018

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A fascinating and beautifuly illustrated short biography of King Christian X, famous for his daily rides around Copenhagen during the Second World War German occupation of Denmark. The book does an excellent job of describing Christian X’s complicated personality. He was strongly influenced by his grandfather Christian IX and the strict upbringing that he received from his parents King Frederick VIII and Lovisa of Sweden. His military service also shaped his perspective on kingship. I would have been interested to read more about Queen Alexandrine, whose quieter character was overshadowed by that of her husband, as well as Denmark’s experience during the First and Second World Wars. The First World War is summarized especially quickly. The illustrations are lovely, especially a 1940 photograph of the elderly Christian X with his granddaughter, the future Queen Margarete II.

#264 of 365 Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid: The Modern Royal Couple by Jens Gunni Busck

Date Read: September 22, 2018

Genre: History/Biography

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Acquired: Purchased from the Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Review: A short biography of Queen Margarete II of Denmark’s parents, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid and their impact on the Danish monarchy. While previous Danish monarchs experienced some difficulties setting the right tone for their court, the author explains that Frederik and Ingrid mastered “formal informality” creating a balance between royal tradition and accessibility. Royal banquets were renamed parties and live music and buffets were added to previously dull palace occasions. Both Frederick and Ingrid were interesting people in their own right: Frederick was a trained symphony conductor who made recordings for charity and Ingrid was a keen sportswoman and trendsetter throughout her long life, even popularizing mobility devices for the elderly during her last years. In common with the other books in the Crown series, this book is beautifully illustrated, including numerous photographs of the royal couple and their three daughters.

#265 of 365 Power, Splendour, and Diamonds: Denmark’s Regalia and Crown Jewels by Peter Kristiansen

Date Read: September 25, 2018

Genre: History

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 60 pages

Review: A short history of Danish coronations, and, since the mid-nineteeth century, accession proclamations. The book includes full descriptions of Denmark’s royal regalia and crown jewels. There are colourful illustrations that emphasize the intricate details of these pieces. The Danish royal regalia is on permanent display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen and is now rarely used at official events except for the state funerals of monarchs. The Crown Jewels are worn by Queen Margarete II on certain official occasions including royal weddings and the annual New Year’s banquet. There is one notable piece not discussed in the book. The collection at Rosenborg Castle includes the world’s oldest surviving Order of the Garter and while this piece is not strictly part of the crown jewels or royal regalia, it would have been an interesting item to photograph and describe for this volume. Power, Splendour, and Diamonds is a valuable overview of the Danish Regalia and Crown Jewels and a great souvenir of Rosenborg Castle.

Rosenborg. Pleasure Palace and Treasure Chamber#266 of 365 Rosenborg. Pleasure Palace and Treasure Chamber by Heidi Laura

Genre: History/Art

Date Read: September 26, 2018

Acquired: Purchased from Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Format: Hardcover, 114 pages

Review: A beautifully illustrated guide to Rosenborg Castle. Visiting the castle can be an overwhelming experience as the royal apartments are filled with portraits and beautiful objects. The book places the rooms and their treasures within the context of Danish history from the reign of Christian IV to the development of Denmark’s constitution. The illustrations include details that visitors to the museum are likely to overlook including hidden speaking tubes in the walls for the royal residents to order food and drink from the palace kitchens. The decorative objects provide examples of changing trends in art patronage and collecting during the centuries that the Rosenborg was a working royal residence.  The provenance of key works of art in the Castle and the careers of little known court artists and intellectuals are well explained in the guidebook but I would have liked to have read a little more information about certain royal portraits and sculptures in the rooms. A fascinating and informative read.

Baltic Sea Cruise Travel Photos 2018: The Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

In August, I gave a royal history lecture series on a Baltic sea cruise. The first stop was Stockholm, Sweden, where I visited the royal palace, the official residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia. Here are a few of my photographs from the trip:

Stockholm Palace Chapel

King Carl XVI Gustaf

Paintings by King Carl Gustaf XVI’s grandmother, Crown Princess Margareta (Princess Margaret of Connaught, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria)

In the Meleager Salon of Stockholm Palace. According to the palace guidebook, “The woven tapestries were part of the dowry of Ulrika Eleanora the Elder” Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark (not to be confused with her daughter, a queen regnant) was consort to King Charles XI of Sweden

The King Charles XI gallery

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia of Sweden

King Gustaf VI Adolf’s 1st wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught

Lady Louise Mountbatten, the 2nd wife of King Gustaf VI of Adolf of Sweden

The Bernadotte Rooms 

Queen Josefina of Sweden, consort of King Oscar I. Born Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg, she was named for her grandmother, Empress Josephine (consort of Emperor Napoleon I).

Reader’s Digest Interview: In conversation with royal historian Carolyn Harris

I discussed a variety topics concerning the royal family including the royal wedding, popular attitudes toward the monarchy in Canada, and The Crown series on Netflix with Courtney Shea at Reader’s Digest Canada.

Click here to read “In Conversation with Royal Historian Carolyn Harris”

Illustration by Aimée Van Drimmelen

Global News Interview: Preparing for a Royal Wedding

Windsor Castle

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is one month away and the preparations include both centuries of royal tradition and new innovations introduced by the royal couple. I discussed the preparations for the royal wedding as well as the history of royal weddings at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle with Global News. Here is the interview:

 

CBC News Interview: St. George’s Chapel: Gothic glory surrounds memorials to monarchs – but their marriages didn’t always work out

King Henry VIII

I discussed St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry next month, with Janet Davison for The Royal Fascinator, the CBC royal wedding newsletter.

Windsor Castle was built during the reign of William the Conqueror and has been a royal residence since the reign of William’s youngest son Henry I, who married his second wife, Adeliza of Louvain, there. Beginning in the reign of Edward III in the fourteenth century, the castle became associated with Order of the Garter ceremonies rather than royal wedding celebrations until the reign of Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century. Six of Queen Victoria’s nine children were married in St. George’s Chapel and the chapel remains a popular royal wedding venue for junior members of the royal family.

Like Westminster Abbey in London, St. George’s Chapel is the setting royal funerals as well as royal weddings. When Meghan Markle walks down the aisle, she will pass over the modest memorial plaque to King Henry VIII who is buried in the chapel. Henry VIII married six times but he chose to be interred with his third wife, Jane Seymour, who died giving birth to his only legitimate son, King Edward VI.

Click here to read “St. George’s Chapel: Gothic glory surrounds memorials to monarchs – but their marriages didn’t always work out.”

Click here for further information about the history of Windsor Castle, including the 1992 fire, which led to extensive renovations.

 

CBC News Interview: Harry and Meghan’s wedding will break new ground, but tradition won’t ‘go out the window’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

I discussed Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Windsor Castle as a location for royal wedding celebrations with Janet Davison at the CBC and I am quoted in the first edition of the new CBC News royal wedding newsletter, the Royal Fascinator.

Click here to read THE ROYAL FASCINATOR: Harry and Meghan’s wedding will break new ground, but tradition won’t ‘go out the window’ and to subscribe to the newsletter!

 

National Post Interview: Light everything on fire: What would have happened had the Nazis invaded Britain

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in British Columbia in 1939

I discussed the royal family during the Second World War with Tristin Hopper at the National Post. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their children, the future Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret were determined to remain together in Britain but there were contingency plans in the event of a German invasion, including the purchase of Hatley Castle in British Columbia by Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King as a possible wartime residence for the royal family.

Click here to read “Light everything on fire: What would have happened had the Nazis invaded Britain” in the National Post

CBC News Network Interview: The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Visit Prince Edward County

Prince Charles tours the Wellington Farmer’s Market in Ontario, Friday June 30, 2017.
[Photo credit: Peter J. Thompson]

I discussed the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Prince Edward County on the CBC News Network this afternoon including Prince Charles’s interest in organic farming, the first royal walkabout in Canada in 1939 and the history of Queen Elizabeth II’s Canadian tours

Click here to watch: “Carolyn Harris interview – Live coverage of royal tour on CBC News Network”

I am also quoted in the CBC article “Retired soldier takes to life on the farm, with help from Prince Charles”

University of Toronto News Interview: Prince Philip rumours go viral

Prince Philip in 2008.

Before the announcement that Prince Philip would be retiring from public life at the end of the summer, there was widespread speculation on social media that Buckingham Palace would be announcing his death on the morning of May 4 as members of the royal household gathered for an “eleventh hour” meeting.

There were also more optimistic theories including the idea that forthcoming renovations to Buckingham Palace would prompt an announcement that the Queen and Prince Philip were moving to Windsor Castle or Balmoral for an extended period of time. In an interview with University of Toronto news, I discuss the timeless fascination with events behind palace doors and how the internet has accelerated the spread of royal rumors.

Buckingham Palace, London

Click here to read “Prince Philip rumours go viral: U of T expert talks about centuries of royal gossip” at UofT news

Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting now available for purchase

My 3rd book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, has been published by Dundurn Press in Canada. (The USA and UK release date is May 2).

Click here to purchase your copy of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

How royal parents dealt with raising their children over the past thousand years, from keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.

William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are setting trends for millions of parents around the world. The upbringing of their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is the focus of intense popular scrutiny. Royalty have always raised their children in the public eye and attracted praise or criticism according to parenting standards of their day.

Royal parents have faced unique challenges and held unique privileges. In medieval times, raising an heir often meant raising a rival, and monarchs sometimes faced their grown children on the battlefield. Conversely, kings and queens who lost their thrones in wars or popular revolutions often found solace in time spent with their children. In modern times, royal duties and overseas tours have often separated young princes and princesses from their parents, a circumstance that is slowly changing with the current generation of royalty.

Click here to purchase your copy of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting