One of Denmark’s best-loved kings, Frederik IX, reigned from 1947 to 1972, which oversaw the modernisation of his nation, a constitutional change and women’s equality.

King Frederick IX of Denmark. Photo: Johannes Jaeger, The Royal Court of Denmark

He was said to be a real family man, so King Frederik and Queen Ingrid raised the Royal Family’s profile by regularly inviting the media inside the palaces.

Frederik was also the first Danish king to make televised New Year Speeches, which continue to forge an important link between the Royal Family and the people.

Early Years

Christian Frederik Franz Michael Carl Valdemar Georg was born at Sorgenfri Palace on 11 March 1899, the eldest son of Christian X and Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

His father became King in 1912 when his grandfather Frederik VIII died, so he was second in line to the throne.

Four generations: Christian IX, Frederick VIII, Christian X and Frederick IX in 1903

He began his education at the Royal Danish Naval Academy in 1917 and the University of Copenhagen.

Frederik broke with tradition by choosing a naval career, instead of joining the army. He held several senior commands whilst on active duty, acquired several tattoos during his years of service and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1946.

He married Princess Ingrid of Sweden on 24 May 1935, and lived mostly at Frederick VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg and spent their summers at Gråsten.

The newly engaged Princess Ingrid of Sweden and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark in 1935.

They had three daughters: Queen Margrethe II, Princess Benedikte and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.

World War II

King Frederik and Queen Ingrid providing a relaxed and loving family life for their three daughters, so the Royal Family became a popular reflection of the typical Danish family adapting with the times.

However, Frederik also acted as regent after his father was temporarily injured after falling off a horse in October 1942 until 1943.

His father Christian X refused to leave Denmark and became a visible symbol for popular resistance symbol during World War II. Sources say he rode his horse every day through the streets of Copenhagen, unaccompanied by a groom or guards, in defiance of Hitler, as the people waved and cheered as he passed by.

Crown Prince Frederick in 1914. Photo: Library of Congress / Public domain

Frederik supported and encouraged the Danish resistance against German Occupation, and he and his father were imprisoned by the Germans from 1943 to 1945.

A Beloved Monarch

He was proclaimed King from the Christiansborg Palace balcony by the Prime Minister Knud Kristensen, following his father’s death on 20 April 1947.

His reign saw many changes when Denmark shook off restrictions of an agricultural society, the development of a welfare state, a booming economy during the 1960s and the modernisation of society. Women achieved equality and entered the workforce.

The Act of Succession was amended in 1953, to allow his eldest daughter to become Queen, rather than his younger brother Prince Knud.

He was extremely popular, as he had a natural friendliness and warmth, whilst maintaining the dignity of a monarch, whilst dealing with people from all walks of life.

The King was also a talented piano player and he also served as a conductor, with the Royal Danish Orchestra and the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, from 1938 and continued until 1971, about nine months until his death.

King Frederik fell ill shortly after giving his New Year’s Address to the nation on 31 December 1971, and he was rushed to hospital days later suffering from a heart attack.

He died on 14 January 1972 at 7.50 pm, surrounded by family and close friends and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral.

King Frederik IX’s Motto: ‘With God for Denmark.’

Frederik’s daughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Photo: Torben Eskerod, Kongehuset ©

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