Saturday 9 December 2006

Three generations in a special place

A new photograph has been taken of the Queen of Denmark, the next king of Denmark and the king who will follow them long in the future. It is one of those historical royal photographs which is interesting for its deliberate historical references. Queen Margrethe makes a conscious connection to the past by sitting on the same chair her father Frederik IX sat on as depicted in the painting in the background. The painting is of the moment Frederik IX signed the new Constitution of 1953 into law in Christiansborg Slot, which is where the photo is taken. Billed Bladet reports the the Queen and the two heirs were immersed in the historical spirit radiating from the painting of King Frederik IX, who is the main figure in the painting captured as the Constitution of 1953 was signed.

It was the 1953 constitution which made it possible for the then thirteen year old Princess Margrethe to be appointed as the heir to her beloved father. That constitution, which also gave Greenland home-rule, enabled females to become heir to the throne. The King’s daughter could become queen after him. However, the Constitution did not alter the precedence of any younger born son to precede a daughter, and this was why there were plans for a change of law when Mary was pregnant with Christian. Constitutionally the right of the first born to be heir, whether male or female, is a problem which still exists for any children of Christian.

Billed Bladet continues that for Queen Margrethe, as for any other grandmother, being with Crown Prince Frederik and little Christian are some of her happiest moments. But for the Queen, there is an added dimension in being together in these circumstances. It’s not only grandmother, son and grandchild who get together. It’s Denmark’s ruling Queen, her son, the future King, and the grandchild, who will also inherit the throne some day.

There were some breaks during the photo shoot because little Christian weighs a lot and was heavy to hold. During the breaks he was given some chocolate and fruit. But one day, Prince Christian will be able to take out this picture and explain to his children: here I am on my father's arm with my grandmother and great-grandfather in the background, whom I’ve never met, but have heard so much about.

The photograph is in the classical style. The oldest, Queen Margrethe, sits on a chair, while next to her stands Crown Prince Frederik with his one year old, healthy son held in his arm. The grandest looking person in the picture however is King Frederik, who is depictd in his gala-uniform having just ensured that his oldest daughter will one day be queen. Nineteen years passed after the Constitution was signed when that happened in 1972 upon Frederik's death.

Queen Margrethe understands how to tie history together and to build bridges between the years, says Billed Bladet. The scarf she is wearing is fastened with a small gold pin in the shape of a horseshoe with red rubies. That’s the piece of jewellry King Frederik gave to his daughter the day the Constitution was signed. A horseshoe signifies luck and the broach which the thirteen year old Princess Margrethe received on the 5th June 1953 is still one of her most precious jewels. It is indeed a historical photo which show a timeless moment in a long-lived monarchy. (With thanks to Muhler for translation and to Annelise Weimann of Billed Bladet) Photos from Billed Bladet . The painting shows Prince Knud sitting on his brother King Frederik's right.

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