Denmark’s main royal residence, Amalienborg Palace, increases terror preparedness

Denmark’s main royal residence, Amalienborg Palace, increases terror preparedness

NordenBladet – The Danish royal residence of Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen will soon be closed to all car traffic as part of moves to reduce the threat of a terror attack. The Danish news-agency “Ritzau” confirmed the details from Copenhagen City Council and the Danish Royal Court.

The move means that cars will no longer be able to drive into Amalienborg Palace square, according to the Royal Court. However, pedestrians and cyclists may continue to access the area as they do now.

There will be a total of 52 steel barriers set up to block the four entrances to the Palace Square on the basis of a safety recommendation from Danish police. An additional 13 steel gates will prevent cars from passing through the area around the castle.

“We must, of course, ensure that it is safe and secure to move in the square, and we have therefore decided to establish a permanent security of the palace site”, said Nikolaj Jensen, Deputy Director of Amalienborg castle to Danish media.

The Danish Royal Court and Culture Board states that the purpose of the ban is to increase security when larger crowds gather at the site. There are major events in the Royal House, such as the Queen’s birthday, but also on weekdays, large crowds gather at the square. After trucks and other vehicles were used in attacks overseas, the Danish Royal Court has decided to close the square for all normal car traffic.

Amalienborg is one of the most visited sights in Copenhagen and thousands of tourists from Denmark and abroad travel in the area especially during the summer months, at royal birthdays and to see the Royal Life Guard perform their daily change of guard ceremony.

Amalienborg is the home of the Danish Royal Family and consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard. In the centre of the square is an equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V. Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace was damaged by fire in 1794, the Royal Family bought the palaces and moved in.

Amalienborg (Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 København K, Denmark) is the home of the Danish royal family, and is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard (Danish: Amalienborg Slotsplads); in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V.

Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burned on 26 February 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. Over the years various kings and their families have resided in the four different palaces.


The first palaces on the site

The Frederiksstaden district was built on the former grounds of two other palaces. The first palace was called Sophie Amalienborg. It was built by Queen Sophie Amalie, consort to Frederick III, on part of the land which her father-in-law Christian IV had acquired outside of Copenhagen’s old walled city, now known as the Indre By district, in the early 17th century when he had been king. Other parts of the land were used for Rosenborg Castle, Nyboder, and the new Eastern fortified wall around the old city.

It included a garden, a replacement for the “Queen’s Garden” which had been located beyond the city’s western gate Vesterport, an area today known as Vesterbro, and which had been destroyed under siege from Sweden in 1659.

Work on the garden began in 1664, and the castle was built 1669-1673. The King died in 1670, and the Queen Dowager lived there until her death on February 20, 1685.

Four years later on April 15, 1689 Sophie Amalie’s son King Christian V celebrated his forty-fourth birthday at the palace with the presentation of a German opera, perhaps the first opera presentation in Denmark, in a specially-built temporary theatre. The presentation was a great success, and it was repeated a few days later on April 19. However, immediately after the start of the second performance a stage decoration caught fire, causing the theatre and the palace to burn to the ground, and about 180 people lost their lives.

The King planned to rebuild the palace, whose church, Royal Household and garden buildings were still intact. Ole Rømer headed the preparatory work for the rebuilding of Amalienborg in the early 1690s. In 1694, the King negotiated a deal with the Swedish building master Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, who spent some time in Copenhagen that summer reviewing the property. His drawing and model were completed in 1697. The King, however, found the plans too ambitious and instead began tearing down the existing buildings that same year, with the reclaimed building materials used to build a new Garrison Church.

The second Amalienborg was built by Frederick IV at the beginning of his reign. The second Amalienborg consisted of a summerhouse, a central pavilion with orangeries, and arcades on both side of the pavilion. On one side of the buildings was a French-style garden, and on the other side were military drill grounds. The pavilion had a dining room on the groundfloor. On the upper floor was a salon with a view out to the harbour, the garden and the drill grounds.

Development of Frederiksstaden by Frederick V

Amalienborg is the centrepiece of Frederiksstaden, a district that was built by King Frederick V to commemorate in 1748 the tercentenary of the Oldenburg family’s ascent to the throne of Denmark, and in 1749 the tercentenary of the coronation of Christian I of Denmark. This development is generally thought to have been the brainchild of Danish Ambassador Plenipotentiary in Paris, Johann Hartwig Ernst Bernstorff. Heading the project was Lord High Steward Adam Gottlob Moltke, one of the most powerful and influential men in the land, with Nicolai Eigtved as royal architect and supervisor.

The project consisted of four identical mansions (see below), built to house four distinguished families of nobility from the royal circles, placed around an octagonal square. These mansions (now called Palaces) form the modern palace of Amalienborg, albeit much modified over the years.

As a royal residence

When the Royal Family found itself homeless after the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794, the palaces were empty for long periods throughout the year, with the exception of the Brockdorff Palace, which housed the Naval Academy. The noblemen who owned them were willing to part with their mansions for promotion and money, and the Moltke and Schack Palaces were acquired in the course of a few days. Since that date successive royal family members have lived at Amalienborg as a royal residence and kings have lent their names to the four palaces; Christian VII’s Palace, Christian VIII’s Palace, Frederick VIII’s Palace and Christian IX’s Palace.

A colonnade, designed by royal architect Caspar Frederik Harsdorff, was added 1794-1795 to connect the recently occupied King’s palace, Moltke Palace, with that of the Crown Prince, Schack’s Palace.

The four palaces

According to Eigtved’s master plans for Frederikstad and the Amalienborg Palaces, the four palaces surrounding the plaza were conceived of as town mansions for the families of chosen nobility. Their exteriors were identical, but interiors differed. The site on which the aristocrats could build was given to them free of charge, and they were further exempted from taxes and duties. The only conditions were that the palaces should comply exactly to the Frederikstad architectural specifications, and that they should be built within a specified time framework.

Building of the palaces on the western side of the square started in 1750. When Eigtved died in 1754 the two western palaces had been completed. The work on the other palaces was continued by Eigtved’s colleague and rival, Lauritz de Thurah strictly according to Eigtved’s plans. The palaces were completed in 1760.

The four palaces are:

Christian VII’s Palace, originally known as Moltke’s Palace
Christian VIII’s Palace, originally known as Levetzau’s Palace
Frederick VIII’s Palace, originally known as Brockdorff’s Palace
Christian IX’s Palace, originally known as Schack’s Palace

Currently, only the palaces of Christian VII and Christian VIII are open to the public.

Royal Guard
Amalienborg is guarded day and night by Royal Life Guards (Den Kongelige Livgarde). Their full dress uniform is fairly similar to that of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army: a scarlet tunic, blue trousers, and a navy bearskin cap. The guard march from Rosenborg Castle at 11.30 am daily through the streets of Copenhagen and execute the changing of the guard in front of Amalienborg at noon. In addition, post replacement is conducted every two hours.

When the monarch is in residence, the King’s Guard (Kongevagt) also march alongside the changing of the guard at noon, accompanied by a band that plays traditional military marches. The Guard Lieutenant (Løjtnantsvagt) is always alerted when Prince Henrik or another member of the royal family are reigning in absence of the Queen. There are three types of watches: King’s Watch, Lieutenant Watch and Palace Watch. A King’s Watch is when Her Majesty the Queen takes up residence in Christian IX’s Palace. A Lieutenant Watch is when Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Joachim, or Princess Benedikte, takes the place as regent, when the monarch is unable to. A Palace Watch is when no member of the royal family is in the palace, and it is the smallest one.

Featured image: Amalienborg Palace (NordenBladet)

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