Sons and Heirs pp 129-146 | Cite as

Domesticating a German Heir to the Danish Throne

  • Jes Fabricius Møller
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy book series (PSMM)


‘May the good Lord give the king a Danish heart — if it is possible.’1 These words were spoken from the pulpit by the parish priest Vilhelm Birkedal in a small church on the island of Funen on Sunday 4 September 1864. Priests were meant to say a traditional prayer for the monarch, Christian IX, who had ascended the throne the year before, and for the royal house, but Birkedal’s intentions were obviously quite different. He was questioning the legitimacy of the new king. The whole of Funen was then crowded with soldiers and officers. They had been evacuated from the Jutland peninsula and the island of Als, where, two months earlier, the Danish army had suffered a crushing defeat against the Prussians, which had brought the Second Schleswig War to a close. An officer reported Birkedal’s breach of protocol and the priest was reprimanded. His comments, however, indicated an underlying sentiment present among the Danish population at the time. The new king was a stranger to his people and — to make matters worse — a German. Like Birkedal many saw in him a representative of the enemy. Over time, however, the relationship between the monarch and his people would evolve into something more settled and stable and, one might say, mutually appreciative: a process of domestication, involving the reshaping of the public image and the political functions of the royal family in general and of Christian IX in particular.


Royal Family Danish Throne Parish Priest Supreme Commander Crown Prince 
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© Jes Fabricius Møller 2016

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  • Jes Fabricius Møller

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