Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What to see: Queen Ingrid centenary exhibition, Copenhagen

Last week I was in Copenhagen, where the Amalienborg Museum is currently, somewhat belatedly, showing an exhibition on Queen Ingrid on the occasion of her centenary. Following Queen Ingrid’s death ten years ago her three daughters donated many of her belongings to De Danske Kongers Kronologiske Samling (the Royal Collection), whose department at Amalienborg has since then held several exhibitions on various aspects of Queen Ingrid’s life.
This centenary exhibition is in many ways a summary of those earlier exhibitions and unlike them it covers the whole length of her 90-year-long life. A whole life in one exhibition might have led to an incomplete or a cramped result, but in my opinions the curators have succeeded quite well in being selective while at the same time covering the most important aspects of Queen Ingrid’s life and work.
Some of them are however not easy to present in an exhibition – one such example is her role as a moderniser, perhaps her most important contribution to the history of the Danish monarchy – but that does not mean that these topics are passed over.
Among the items on display are a number of Queen Ingrid’s clothes, such as her wedding dress (fourth photo), her silver wedding dress (sixth photo) and a black dress (first photo) she wore for an Icelandic state visit in 1954, just days after the death of Crown Princess Märtha. The dress is thus adorned with the Grand Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, while Queen Ingrid’s other foreign decorations are displayed in the same room.
Those Danes who might have wondered what was in the Queen’s handbag will get the answer at this exhibition (fifth photo), where one can also see a number of embroidered handbags and other items, some of them embroidered by Queen Ingrid herself (seventh photo).
A selection of her toys (eighth photo) reminds us of the first carefree ten years of her life before the death of her mother, a tragedy she never really got over. The white shawl glimpsed behind the dolls covered Crown Princess Margareta on the evening before her death.
Also on display are Franciska Clausen’s 1980 portrait of Queen Ingrid (second photo), which belongs to the Self-Owning Institution People’s Home in Aabenraa, and the oath signed by Queen Ingrid when she was sworn in to serve as Guardian of the Realm in 1972 (third photo), making her the only person outside the line of succession so far to be accorded this honour.
The exhibition in Christian VIII’s Mansion closes on the 101st anniversary of Queen Ingrid’s birth on 28 March. It is accompanied by a catalogue in the form of a 52-page booklet which includes essays by Knud J. V. Jespersen, Inge Adriansen and Ove Hornby. While Jespersen, the official court historian, gives an overview of Queen Ingrid’s life, Adriansen deals with Queen Ingrid’s relationship with Southern Jutland, while Hornby looks at Queen Ingrid’s importance for the Danish Institute in Rome. The latter two chapters were both originally given as lectures on 28 March this year.


  1. What a fascinating subject and post. I am particularly drawn to the very personal belongings, such as the petit point handbags she embroidered. Thank you for sharing these fascinating photos.

    I so enjoy your blog. I've been busy and not had time to catch up on your articles, but look forward to reading them during the holidays.

    Best wishes of the season to you.

  2. Yes, some of the personal items are quite interesting. I noted that her check book came from Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken - so the Queen of Denmark obviously kept her money in a bank in her native Sweden. A happy Christmas to you too - and to my other readers as well!


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