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Christian X

King of Denmark and Iceland

Christian X

Christian Carl Frederik Albert Alexander Vilhelm was born at Charlottelund Castle, near Copenhagen, on September 26, 1870, and was baptised in the Chapel of Christiansborg Palace on October 31, 1870. He was the eldest son of Crown Prince Frederik (later King Frederik VIII) and Princess Louise of Norway and Sweden. His siblings were King Haakon VII of Norway, Princess Louise, Prince Harald, Princess Ingeborg, Princess Thyra, Prince Gustav, and Princess Dagmar. After completing his education in 1889, he pursued a military career, becoming chief of the Royal Guard and attaining the rank of Major General.

On April 26, 1898, he married Alexandrine, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Two sons were born to the union -- Frederik (in 1899) and Knud (in 1900). Upon their marriage, the couple were given Christian VIII's Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen as their residence and Sorgenfri Palace north of Copenhagen as a summer residence, and the people of Denmark gave them Marselisborg Palace in Aarhus as a wedding present. In 1914, the King also built the villa Klitgården in Skagen.

King Christian X, Princess Alexandrine, and son Frederik
King Christian X, Princess Alexandrine, and son Frederik

On 14 May 1912, King Frederick VIII died after collapsing from shortness of breath whilst taking a walk in a park in Hamburg, Germany. Christian was in Copenhagen when he heard about his father's death, and he subsequently ascended the throne as Christian X.

Reign

During World War I, the necessity of friendly intercourse between the Scandinavian kingdoms resulted in several meetings between the three kings, of which the first was held at Malmö in December of 1914.

On June 5, 1915, the king signed a new constitution that granted women the vote. On December 1, 1919, he signed the Federal Act, acknowledging Iceland as an independent kingdom and incorporating that kingdom in his official title. Since Iceland severed all formal ties to Denmark in 1944, Christian X was the only king to ever hold the title King of Iceland.

The Easter Crisis of 1920

According to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the disposition of Schleswig, a former Danish fiefdom which had been lost to Prussia during the Second War of Schleswig, was to be determined by two plebiscites -- one in Northern Schleswig, the other in Central Schleswig. No plebiscite was planned for Southern Schleswig, as it was dominated by an ethnic German majority and, in accordance with prevailing sentiment of the times, remained part of the post-war German state. In Northern Schleswig, seventy-five percent voted for reunification with Denmark and twenty-five percent for remaining with Germany. In this vote, the entire region was considered to be an indivisible unit, and the entire region was awarded to Denmark. In Central Schleswig, the situation was reversed with eighty percent voting for Germany and twenty percent for Denmark. In this vote, each municipality decided its own future, and German majorities prevailed everywhere. In light of these results, the government of Prime Minister Carl Theodor Zahle determined that reunification with Northern Schleswig could go forward, while Central Schleswig would remain under German control. Many Danish nationalists felt that at least the city of Flensburg, in Central Schleswig, should be returned to Denmark regardless of the plebiscite's results. Christian X agreed with these sentiments, and ordered Prime Minister Zahle to include Flensburg in the re-unification process. But, as Denmark had been operating as a parliamentary democracy since 1901, Zahle felt he was under no obligation to comply and refused the order and resigned. Christian X subsequently dismissed the rest of the cabinet and replaced it with a de facto conservative caretaker cabinet, sparking protests across the country. Realizing that the monarchy could be in danger, Christian ultimately dismissed the caretaker cabinet and installed a compromise cabinet that operated until elections were held later that year. This would prove to be the last time that a Danish monarch would attempt to take political action independent of Parliament.

World War II

In contrast to King Haakon VII of Norway and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, both of whom went into exile during the Nazi occupation of their countries, Christian X remained in his capital throughout the occupation of Denmark. Even though Christian's official speeches reflected the government's official policy of cooperation with the occupying forces, he was seen by Danes as a man of "mental resistance." And, during the first two years of the German occupation, he took a daily ride on his horse, "Jubilee," through Copenhagen, unaccompanied by groom or guard. A majority of Danes saw this as a symbol of national independence and resistance.

King Christian X riding his horse through the streets of Copenhagen
King Christian X riding his horse through the streets of Copenhagen

In October of 1942, the king became ill with pneumonia following a fall from his horse, and he was essentially an invalid throughout the rest of his reign. After open rebellion against German occupation broke out in August 1943, the king and his family were made virtual prisoners at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. King Christian X's last official act was to open the first post-occupation Danish Parliament, on May 9, 1945. He died at Amalienborg Palace on April 20, 1947 and was succeeded by his eldest son, who assumed the throne as King Frederik IX.

SEE ALSO
Haakon VII
World War I
World War II

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Northern Europe >> Denmark >> 20th Century

This page was last updated on April 16, 2017.