Monday, 13 April 2009

What to see: The Throne Room, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen

The oval Throne Room at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen is often counted as the most successful of the architect Thorvald Jørgensen’s interiors. The Throne Room was also one of the last rooms in the palace to be finished.
The foundation stone of the third Christiansborg was laid in 1907, 23 years after the disastrous fire which destroyed the second Christiansborg. When the Palace was nearly finished King Christian X announced, to the fury of the Parliament’s powerful Finance Committee, that he would not be moving to Christiansborg after all, but rather stay at Amalienborg. The Finance Committee “punished” the King by withdrawing four of the Royal Apartment’s rooms from the King’s use. The Velvet Room at the other end of the Royal Apartments thereafter served as temporary throne room from 1924 to 1933. Eventually the four “confiscated” rooms were returned to the King’s use and the Throne Room could become what it was intended to be.
The oval-shaped room has silk wallpaper and curtains from Lyon, while the pillars’ green marble is of Norwegian origin. Around the room runs a copy of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Alexander frieze – the original, which was rescued from the second Christiansborg, is today in the Alexander Hall. The ceiling has a painting by Kræsten Iversen which shows the myth of how Dannebrog fell down from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanis in 1219.
The thrones are both designed by the architect Gustav Friedrich Hetsch and were also rescued from the fire in 1884. The King’s throne is on our left, the Queen’s on the right. The difference in height is explained by the fact that they did not originally stand together, but in separate throne rooms for the King and the Queen at the second Christiansborg.
The parquet floor has a straight line leading from the thrones to the door – a reminder of those days when people were expected not to turn their backs on the monarch and should thus leave the presence walking backwards.
Munich was one of the cities the architect Thorvald Jørgensen visited on his educational trip of Europe. A Bavarian influence can be traced in some of his work and the Throne Room at Christiansborg has something in common with the Queen’s Throne Room in the Munich Residence’s Königsbau.
The Throne Room is still used for receiving foreign ambassadors, but the Queen does not sit on the throne. It is from the balcony outside the Throne Room that a new monarch is proclaimed, after which the sovereign greets the people for the first time. In 1972 it was Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag who from the balcony shouted three times: “King Frederik IX is dead. Long live Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II!”

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