A Danish friend has made me aware that Jyllands-Posten on Sunday had an article about an upcoming book of memoirs by an elderly lady called Gete Bondo Oldenborg Maaløe. In the book, which has the odd title Getes erindringer – Slægtshistorie, erindringer og beretning om et jævnt og (for det meste) muntert, (altid) virksomt liv (“Gete’s Memoirs: Family History, Memoirs and a Tale of an Even and (Mostly) Merry, (Always) Active Life”), Maaløe documents that King Frederik VII of Denmark was her great-grandfather.
Frederik VII, who died in 1863, was the last of the Oldenburg dynasty, which reigned over Denmark for more than 400 years. It has until now been believed that he was unable to beget children as he were married three times without begetting an heir and no illegitimate children have been known.
Mrs Maaløe says that her great-grandmother Elsa Maria Guldberg Poulsen probably met the Crown Prince in Copenhagen, but that the actual circumstances are unknown to her. The relationship resulted in a child who was given the Crown Prince’s full name, Frederik Carl Christian, and his mother’s surname. She quotes one of four letters in her possession from the Crown Prince to Miss Poulsen: “My own good Maria! Please accept my thanks for the son you have given me [...]. I look forward to giving him a father’s kiss when I come to Copenhagen. [...] Let me now see that you take good care of the lad, so that he will come to resemble his father and I can see my counterfeit in him. [...]”.
Maaløe adds that Frederik VII had intended to make his illegitimate son his private secretary, but died before he had completed his education. The King’s morganatic wife, Countess Danner, did however stay in touch with him and provided for him in her will.
Given that the letters are genuine and that Miss Poulsen did not have other relationships at the same time, this proves that Frederik VII was indeed capable of having children and that other explanations for the end of the Oldenburg dynasty must therefore be sought.
The story is mentioned in passing in Jan Møller’s biography Frederik 7. – En kongeskæbne (1994), where the author states that Marie Poulsen, as he calls her, was a servant at Christiansborg Palace and that the relationship was apparently a short-lived one. He gives the boy’s date of birth as 21 November 1843.
(The picture is a detail of Vilhelm Gerntner’s 1861 portrait of Frederik VII, which hangs at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen).