Christian IV’s crown

Christian IV’s crown, made 1595-1596 by Dirich Fyring in Odense.

Gold with enamel, table-cut stones and pearls; total weight 2895 g. The figures on the crown’s large points illustrate the virtues and powers of a king. In the front of the crown you see a pelican pecking itself in order to feed its offspring with the blood, symbolizing the need for every king to sacrifice his own blood in order to protect his subjects, as weel as being a traditional representation of the devotion of Christs’ sacrificial death. On top of the right arm of the king one can find Fortitudo riding a lion and over his left one sees Justitia, representing the kings’ martial skills and his position as the supreme judge. At the back of the crown one finds a breastfeeding mother showing the king as being superior to the church, showing his love to God and his devotion to his subjects.

Inside are the coats-of-arms of the royal provinces. The crown was constructed deliberately open (compare to Christian V’s crown in treasury 3), in spite of this being out of fashion. This is said to have been related to the crowns of the nordic Kalmarunion, a union consisting of Sweden and Norway but headed by Denmark. This deliberate choice then, was presumably ment to show his more or less legitimate claim to a unified Scandinavia. The crown was used for the last time at Frederik III’s coronation in 1648, where he decided to have it modernized, though having financial problems. He even had to redeem the crown from a banker in Hamburg, because Christian IV had it pawned.


The Danish Royal Crowns and Other Symbols of Power

The foremost symbols of the realm are also called regalia, which means the ‘emblems and symbols indicative of the monarch’.  In a Danish context this concerns the crowns of the kings and queens, the sceptre, the orb (symbol of the Universe and the Earth), the coronation sword, the sword of the realm, the beaker for the coronation oil, and the thrones. Many people no doubt imagine the King sitting on his throne in daily audience, wearing his crown with the other regalia within reach, but they were in fact only used once in a king’s life, at his crowning or coronation. The oldest known crowning in Denmark is that of Knud VI in 1170 in Ringsted Church, and the tradition for crowning continued up until Frederik III. At the Crowning of Frederik III Denmark was an elective monarchy, in which the king’s eldest son was chosen as king only by the grace of the Privy Council, and had to sign a contract – a coronation charter – which curbed his powers with regard to the Privy Council. At the crowning of the king it was therefore the Privy Councillors who symbolically took part in the placement of the crown. During the reign of Frederik III absolutism was introduced in Denmark, and his son, Christian V, therefore automatically inherited the title of king – solely by the grace God and no longer also of the Privy Council. The coronation ceremony therefore fell out of use; the king now placed the crown on his own head, after which he had himself anointed in the church as a divine blessing of the monarchy’s calling. Christian IV’s crown was also used at Frederik III’s crowning, but at the coronation of Christian V as absolute monarch in 1670, the inset from Frederik III’s crown was melted down and a new crown made of the gold. A new era began, and the crown is also known as “the crown of the absolute monarchs”. A new epoch began again with the dissolution of absolutism in 1848, and Christian VIII’s coronation in 1840 was the last. From then on the crown has only been used once in each king’s life, in fact when he is dead. The monarch’s coffin is put on display in the Palace Church at Christiansborg for the so-called “Castrum doloris” (from the Latin: Castle of grief) where the crown is laid on the lid of the coffin and the other regalia set up in front of it.

The Crown Jewels

The Danish Crown Jewels are the result of the great interest generations of queens and  princesses have taken in jewellery and precious stones. The history of the Crown Jewels begins with Christian VI’s queen, Sophie Magdalene. She was  widowed in 1746 and expected to die presently of grief. She therefore wrote her will, in which she specified that her jewellery was not to be given to a specific person, but should always be “with the crown”. In this way there would always be a magnificent item of jewellery available to the incumbent queen. The jewellery has been used and redesigned in relation to the demands of the age, and some queens have used it quite a lot, others hardly at all. Frederik VIII’s queen, Lovisa, was very interested in the Crown Jewels and defined which jewels were Crown Jewels, and added some of her own items. Those she supplied are exhibited at Amalienborg. There are four sets of jewellery called Crown Jewels at Rosenborg. They were all given their current form by Christian VIII’s queen, Caroline Amalie, who had them redesigned in the 1840s, though many of the stones are much older. The Crown Jewels may only be used by the Queen and only within the country’s borders. They are typically used a couple of times a year. The Crown Jewels are always worn at the New Year Reception, and otherwise usually during state visits, special family events, and similar occasions. For example the large pearls and rubies, the emerald set, and the brilliant set were all worn on the occasion of the Crown Couple’s wedding in 2004.