Frederick VIII of Denmark
|King of Denmark |
|Reign||29 January 1906 – 14 May 1912|
|Born||Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg|
3 June 1843
Yellow Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
|Died||14 May 1912 (aged 68)|
Hamburg, German Empire
|Father||Christian IX of Denmark|
|Mother||Louise of Hesse-Kassel|
Frederick VIII (Danish: Christian Frederik Vilhelm Carl; 3 June 1843 – 14 May 1912) was King of Denmark from 1906 to 1912. Before his accession to the throne at age 62, he served as crown prince for over 42 years. During the long reign of his father, King Christian IX, he was largely excluded from influence and political power.
Frederick was born on 3 June 1843 in the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, immediately adjacent to the Amalienborg Palace complex in Copenhagen. He was the eldest son and child of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel-Rumpenheim. His father's family was a cadet branch of the Danish royal House of Oldenburg, which was descended from Christian III and which had ruled as non-sovereign dukes in Schleswig-Holstein for eight generations. He had five younger siblings: Alexandra (1844-1925), William (1845-1913), Dagmar (1847-1928), Thyra (1853-1933) and Valdemar (1858-1939). Although they were of royal blood, the family lived a comparatively normal life. They did not possess great wealth; their father's income from an army commission was about £800 per year and their house was a rent-free grace and favour property. Occasionally, Hans Christian Andersen was invited to call and tell the children stories before bedtime.
In 1853, it was clear that the main line of the Oldenburg dynasty would become extinct with King Frederick VII, who was elderly and childless. Frederick's mother was very close to the succession, as she was a niece of the previous Oldenburg king, Christian VIII, through his sister. With the other heirs from the House of Hesse-Kassel having renounced their claims to the Danish throne in favour of Louise, who in turn relinquished her own claim, his father was eventually chosen as the heir presumptive. Accordingly, Frederick was created a Prince of Denmark.
After his confirmation in 1860, Prince Frederick was given an extensive military education, pursuing a career in the Royal Danish Navy alongside his brother William. In 1863, Frederick was sent to study political science at the University of Oxford, but returned to Denmark upon his father becoming king in November that year. As heir apparent to the throne, he was given a seat in the State Council and subsequently assisted his father in the duties of government. In 1864, he formally took part in the Second Schleswig War against Prussia and Austria.
Queen Louise wanted her eldest son to marry as well as had her two daughters, Alexandra and Dagmar. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom had two yet unmarried daughters, Princess Helena and Princess Louise, and Louise planned to have Frederick marry one of them. However, Victoria did not want her daughters to marry heirs to foreign thrones, as this would force them to live abroad, instead preferring German princes who could establish homes in England. In addition, Victoria had always been pro-German and another Danish alliance (Frederick's sister, Alexandra, had married Victoria's eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales), would not have been in line with her German interests.
In July 1868, Crown Prince Frederick—then 25 years old—became engaged to Princess Louise, the 17-year-old only daughter of King Charles XV of Sweden. Princess Louise belonged to the Bernadotte dynasty, which had ruled in Sweden since 1818, when the founder, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon Bonaparte's generals, was elected crown prince of Sweden in 1810 and later succeeded the throne as King Charles XIV John in 1818. He married Désirée Clary, who had once been engaged to the French Emperor. Charles XIV's son, Oscar I, had married Josephine of Leuchtenberg, the granddaughter of Napoleon's first wife, the Empress Josephine. King Oscar I and Queen Josephine were Princess Louise's paternal grandparents.
The marriage was suggested as a way of creating friendship between Denmark and Sweden. Relations between the two countries had been tense after Sweden had not assisted Denmark during the war with Prussia in 1864. Frederick and Louise had met for the first time in 1862, but in 1868 Frederick was invited to Sweden to get to know Louise, and their meeting was described as a success. A year later they were married in the chapel at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 28 July 1869. Louise was the first Swedish princess to be married into the Danish royal house since the Middle Ages, and the marriage was welcomed in all three Scandinavian countries as a symbol of the new Scandinavism.
Frederick and Louise resided at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, spending the summers at Charlottenlund Palace north of the city. They had four sons and four daughters; their eldest sons, Christian and Carl, would become kings of Denmark and Norway respectively.
Frederick became king of Denmark upon his father's death on 29 January 1906. In many ways, Frederick VIII was a liberal monarch who was much more favorable to the new parliamentarian system than his father had been, being reform-minded and democratically inclined.
Due to his late accession to the throne, Frederick's reign would last only six years, throughout which he was plagued by ill health.
On 14 May 1912, while on his return journey from a trip to Nice with his wife and four of his children, the king made a short stop in Hamburg, staying at the Hotel Hamburger Hof under the pseudonym "Count Kronsberg". That evening, Frederick—while incognito—went out for a stroll on the Jungfernstieg, during which he became faint and collapsed on a park bench at Gänsemarkt. He was discovered by a police officer who took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead; his cause of death was announced as a heart attack. As Frederick was incognito at the time and had no papers on him, his body was brought to the local morgue, where he was identified by the hotel manager the next morning.
False rumors soon began to circulate about a possible scandal involving the king, as the place where he collapsed and died at was near a well-known brothel. The local police did not disclose details about the investigation, for fear of causing distress to the royal family.
Frederick's body was transported via a special train to Travemünde, after which he was brought back to Denmark by the royal yacht Dannebrog. He was interred with other members of the Danish royal family in Roskilde Cathedral near Copenhagen.
The reigning families of Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Luxembourg are descended from King Frederick VIII; Denmark's through his eldest son Christian X, and Norway's through his second son, Haakon VII. The royal family of Belgium and grand ducal family of Luxembourg are both descended from his daughter, Princess Ingeborg of Denmark.
National orders and decorations
- Knight of the Elephant, 3 June 1861
- Cross of Honour of the Order of the Dannebrog, 3 June 1861
- Grand Commander of the Dannebrog, 28 July 1869
- Commemorative Medal for the Golden Wedding of King Christian IX and Queen Louise, 1892
Foreign orders and decorations
- Ascanian duchies: Grand Cross of Albert the Bear, 4 April 1863
- Austria-Hungary: Grand Cross of St. Stephen, 1873
- Bavaria: Knight of St. Hubert, 1908
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order
- France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Redeemer
- Hawaii: Grand Cross of the Order of Kalākaua
- Hesse-Darmstadt: Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order, 5 May 1865
- Italy: Knight of the Annunciation, 10 May 1875
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, 18 May 1888
- Mecklenburg: Grand Cross of the Wendish Crown, with Crown in Ore and Diamonds, 1884
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Netherlands Lion
- Nassau Ducal Family: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau
- Oldenburg: Grand Cross of the Order of Duke Peter Friedrich Ludwig, with Golden Crown
- Ottoman Empire: Order of Osmanieh, 1st Class in Diamonds
- Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ
- Grand Cross of the Tower and Sword
- Grand Cross of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa
- Grand Cross of the Sash of the Three Orders
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross of the White Falcon, 1882
- Spain: Knight of the Golden Fleece, 19 April 1883
- United Kingdom:
- Honorary military appointments
- Colonel-in-Chief of The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), 1906 – 1914 (United Kingdom)
- À la suite of the Imperial German Navy
- Honorary General of the Swedish Army, 1891 (Sweden-Norway)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frederick VIII of Denmark.|
- The Royal Lineage at the website of the Danish Monarchy
- Frederik VIII at the website of the Royal Danish Collection at Amalienborg Palace
- Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. .
Cadet branch of the House of OldenburgBorn: 3 June 1843 Died: 14 May 1912
| King of Denmark