Coronation Chair of Denmark
According to legend, the Coronation Chair is made of the horn of unicorns. In reality, it is made from Norwegian narwhal tusks. It is guarded by three life-size silver lions, based on Biblical references, and was a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Twin Kingdoms.
Following the 1660 introduction of absolute monarchy in Denmark and Norway, King Frederick III (r. 1648–1670) ordered a coronation chair to be created. The Coronation Chair was made between 1662 and 1671 by Bendix Grodtschilling. During the reign of King Christian V (r. 1670–1699), gilt figures were added to the chair.
18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the finest gold. 19 There were six steps to the throne, and the top of the throne was round behind; and there were arms on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps; there was not the like made in any kingdom.
The Coronation Chair was used at coronations between 1671, for Christian V, and 1840. When absolute monarchy was replaced by constitutional monarchy in 1849, kings were no longer crowned or anointed, whereupon the Coronation Chair lost its practical function.
The Coronation Chair is guarded by three lions of silver. They are the same size as natural lions, and each weighs 130 kilos. Their eyes, manes, and rumps are covered with pure gold. They were made between 1665 and 1670 by Ferdinand Kübich.
On 20 November 1905, when delegates of the Norwegian parliament entered the Christian VII Palace in Copenhagen in order to offer the throne of Norway to Prince Carl, they were met—and stopped—by the lions. This moment was immortalized by photographer Peter Elfelt. Based on Elfelt's photograph, painter Paul Fischer made a famous painting. Several versions of this painting have existed, and one is included in the art collections in the Castle of Oslo.
The three silver lions are seen in one of Bjørn Nørgaard's chronological tapestries ("Early Absolutism") in Christiansborg Palace. They are also seen in Michael Melbyes's portrait of Margrethe II in Christiansborg Palace.
The 1815 anointing of King Frederick VI.
By unknown (1815)
- Sullivan, Helen (4 January 2021). "The nature of the narwhal: 'The one that is good at curving itself to the sky'". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
- Hein 2006, pp. 39–45.
- The Danish Royal Collections: Coronation chair, King
- The Danish Royal Collections: Silver lions
- One version can be seen online, featured by The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Palace in Denmark
- The delegates of the Norwegian parliament in 1905, The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Palace