Copenhagen

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace

Copenhagen’s Amalienborg Palace consists principally of four buildings arranged around a large square. The palace’s web site says that, with the corner pavilions attached to the main buildings, they form an octagon, not a square, but it looked like a square to me, so that’s what I’ll persist in calling it.

In the center of the square is a statue of King Frederik V of Denmark on horseback. If you’ve seen one statue of a king on a horseback, you’ve pretty much seen this one, so I won’t describe it any further.

Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace

The palace was built in the 1750s and was intended to house the nobility of the day, not the royalty. That intent lasted until 1794. That’s when Christiansborg Palace, which is also in Copenhagen, burned down and the royalty needed a place to crash. They then took over Amalienborg Palace as their not at all humble abode.

Amalienborg Palace is still the official residence of Denmark’s current monarch (primarily a figurehead role now; Denmark is a democracy), so don’t expect to get the run of the palace if you visit. You likely won’t be invited for tea either.

Frederik IX's Study
Frederik IX’s Study

However, you can visit some of the former kings’ studies and a queen’s drawing room. You’ll get to see the furnishings of the rooms, but only behind glass walls that separate the public viewing areas from the furnished parts of the rooms. There are placards with descriptive and historical texts in each room saying which Royal’s study or salon it was, along with a very brief note about that person’s life.

There’s something that confuses me. (In life, there are an astronomical number of things that confuse me, but particularly one when I visited Amalienborg Palace.) You get to see a variety of former kings’ studies and a queen’s drawing room. In addition, the current monarchy spends time in the palace when they aren’t staying in another palace or castle (us commoners don’t get to visit those rooms).

So, what I don’t understand is, when a monarch dies does the next monarch abandon the previous monarch’s study/drawing room and furnish a new one for his or her use? If so, what happens when they run out of rooms in the palace? True, it’s a big palace, but it’s not infinite in size. Will they then abandon the monarchy in Denmark?

Guards standing wainting to replace other guards
Guards standing wainting to replace other guards

Changing of the Guard

There are a few palaces (and some non-palaces, such as Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada) around the world that have changing of the guard ceremonies and Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen is one of them. They change the guard there at noon each day.

I don’t know why, probably it’s an indication of a sick mind, but a mental image that I want to quickly obliterate often forms in my mind when I hear the term “changing of the guard.” What is that mental image, you might ask? Think of what one means when one speaks of changing a baby. Fortunately, the changing of the guard is not that.

The changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace is a rather slow process. A group of eight guards march in step to each guarded door of the palace, one door at a time. Some doors have two guards. In that case, they are both replaced at once.

Guards changing
Guards changing

Before a guard is relieved by his replacement, two boss guards march up to guard to be replaced. The boss guards stand on either side of the guard who will be replaced. Both boss guards stand facing in the same direction. The boss guards pause for a bit and then they both execute a crisp about-face. The boss guards then pause in that position for a while. Next, one of the boss guards marches to the guard post and adjusts something in the booth that I couldn’t see. The boss guards then march back to the group. While all of this is going on, the guard to be replaced just stands there doing pretty much of nothing.

Only then does a replacement guard march to the guard he’s replacing. The two of them face each other without moving for a while. Then the replaced guard marches to group and the group moves on to next post.

After all of the guards that the group is replacing are replaced, the replaced guards and boss guards march together as a group to the assembly area.

Not all of the doors at the palace are guarded. Some have guard posts beside the door, but the door of the post is turned toward the wall and there is no guard at that position. Don’t ask me why those positions aren’t guarded, however it’s fortunate because otherwise the changing of the guard ceremony would take forever.

Despite not all doors having guards that need replacing. the ceremony still takes about half an hour.

Shame on you if you think the Amelienborg Palace changing of the guard ceremony sounds rather boring. It is rather boring, but shame on you for thinking that.

I read that when the Queen is in residence a band accompanies the changing of the guard ceremony, it’s a somewhat different and bigger ceremony, and it’s more exciting. The Queen wasn’t at the palace when I was there. Hence, the ceremony wasn’t more exciting.

4 comments

  1. Joel, You make me think of one of my favorite two people. Rick Steve’s (who does travel shows and books) and the late Rodney Dangerfield, Although you are ever so tame compared to some of his lewd jokes. No matter … the point is I believe you should consider creating travel shows of your own to include your humor and wit. It would really be welcomed by those of us who love PBS shows.

    1. Thanks, Theresa.

      Rick Steve’s Scandinavian travel book was on my iPad before and during this trip. I could work on being more lewd.

      If you like my wit and humor, be sure to tell your family and friends about my site. Remember to tip your server. I’ll be here all week

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