Thursday, 25 December 2008

Danish Royal Family @ Christmas service

© Se og Hør/Hans Bølcho
The Danish Royal Family has celebrated Christmas at Marselisborg in Århus and attended a Christmas service at the 800 year-old Århus Cathedral. The whole family attended church together this year with the exception of Isabella, who remained at home since she is still too little to last through a full church service. It is Marie's first Christmas as a princess of Denmark this year and she arrived holding Nikolai's hand. Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary attended with Christian. After the service he family returned to Marselisborg to a Christmas table of hot rice pudding and crisp duck. As Queen Margrethe told Midtjyske Medier, Christmas is an ecclesiastical festivity first of all, and then everything else is secondary. "When we...sit in the cathedral I also think now you can really think about what Christmas is really about...". The crowd gathered at the church to see the royals were given a greeting by Prince Christian. Christian was happy when he arrived, holding Mary's hand and saying "hi" to those waiting outside the cathedral.

Just as other families do, the Danish royals have their own traditions on Christmas Eve. The Queen decorated both the castle and the rather big Christmas tree, while she brought back English plum pudding when she did her Christmas shopping in London recently. Unlike most other Danish families, the Danish royals don't dance around the Christmas tree, but recite psalms and sing songs together in front of the tree. The Regent Couple's old friend Reverend Peter Parkov joined the family for Christmas as usual. The adults returned to the cathedral today, Christmas Day, without the little ones.

© Århus Stiftsidende/B.T./Martin Ballund, Århus Stiftsidende/Jens Thaysen, Se og Hør/Hans Bølcho, BilledBladet/Flemming Jeppesen/Fokus

Billed Bladet 'Marie og Nikolai i kirke hånd i hånd'
B.T. 'Jul på slottet - De kongelige tog i Århus Domkirke'
Se og Hør

Today the adults returned to the cathedral for a Christmas servic December 25:
Århus Stifstidende 'De små fik lov at blive hjemme'
The little ones stayed at home while the adults went to church on Christmas Day.
Nikolai, Felix, Christian and Isabella stayed at home to play with their Christmas presents. Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik were driven right to the door by their driver, while Crown Prince Frederik drove Joachim, Marie and Mary in a Renault.
The bells were ringing as the royals arrived and they wished the small crowd outside the cathedral a merry Christmas as they entered. Bishop Kjeld Holm gave a Christmas sermon to a full church.

Billed Bladet's front cover has Frederik's and Mary's Christmas card on its cover - taken for Frederik's 40th birthday in May this year

Århus Stifstidende photo gallery - Royal Family at Århus Cathedral
Århus Stifstidende photo gallery - the Royal Guard at Marselisborg

Billed Bladet - Joachim and Marie Christmas shopping in exclusive shops in Copenhagen, joined by Marie's friend Britt Siesbye
Marie and Joachim doing Christmas shopping in Copenhagen ( news clip (01:00)
TV2 clip (00:51) - from the service on December 25

Danish Christmas traditions
Århus Cathedral on Wikipedia, note the Marselis family, familiar to us from the name of Marselisborg Palace, have their family vault in the cathedral

Århus Stifstidende's Pia Richter has interviewed Queen Margrethe about the royal house's Christmas traditions. The Christmas presents are bought and many Christmas cards are written by the time the Queen and Prince Henrik set out from Copenhagen to drive to Århus and Marselisborg. The Queen believes that the Christmas traditions at Marselisborg are important, exactly because they are not at Marselisborg all the time. Margrethe can't imagine celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen because she doesn't associate it with Christmas atmosphere. When she was a child the royal family celebrated Christmas Eve at the Trend hunting lodge in western Jylland (where Frederik and Mary spent Christian's birthday for the past two years).
The successor couple, Margrethe and Henrik, were given Marselisborg in 1967 by Frederik IX. Since 1969 they have spent Christmases at Marselisborg with the exception of some spent with Queen Ingrid and the big family Christmas in 2006 at Fredensborg. The Christmas tree is a spruce tree which reaches to the ceiling and is decorated on Christmas Eve morning. The Queen doesn't climb a ladder any more - "I am not 40 any more" - but everyone participates in the decorating, including the princes, Frederik and Joachim. The Queen has the last say on the colour scheme and if decorations are too old and shabby, they are thrown out. The decorations for Christmas are generally handmade by the family, by the Queen of course, and also some which Frederik and Joachim made in 1976.
Little Prince Christian made his first attempt at decorating last year with a cone. Christian stuck it on one of the lower branches, which was all he could reach... "It is claimed that I control the Christmas tree decoration relentlessly. But in fact one has to allow [participation] from early on because the tree is so big that otherwise it destroys the traditions," says the Queen of how to build involvement in the family decorating traditions.
"Otherwise it's just 'we need a little more red there', 'the blue one would go well in there', and 'there we can also use another colour', but 'we will have more red there', so that it all hangs together," as the Queen describes the process...
The Queen sees Christmas as an ecclesiastical celebration first of all, and everything else is of secondary importance. "When we come and sit in the cathedral I think that's when you can really think that it's Christmas and not all the other stuff which rushes round in one's head."
...The Queen goes down at about six o'clock and greets those watch walkings guards at the guardroom with a small Christmas present. "They have a small glass, and we wish each other happy Christmas, and then we do the same with our staff...
At eight o'clock in the evening the Christmas menu is served on Marselisborg...

Berlingske Tidende also published the interview.

Århus Stifstidende's photo gallery - photos by Axel Schütt

Update: From Billed Bladet on Nikolai and Felix out in the fresh air on December 26 enjoying themselves with their dog Winston and their nanny Merete. The princes went to the playground near Marselisborg at Memorial Park

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