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New official portraits of Denmark’s King and Queen unveiled

A tradition after a change in Head of State is to make new official pictures which will be hung in Danish official institutions and Danish embassies around the world. Queen Mary wears Danish Crown Jewels for the first time.

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By Bente D. Knudsen Pictures: Steen Evald, Kongehuset

Magnificent and both proud as well as happy one could say are the feelings emanating from the new official portraits of Denmark’s King Frederik and Queen Mary.

The official portraits have been taken at the Royal Reception Rooms at Christiansborg Palace, in the Green Room. The rooms are open to the public when not in official use and are quite worthwhile and interesting to visit.

Queen Mary wears one of four sets of Crown Jewels which are at the disposal of the reigning monarch’s spouse. She wears them for the first time as previously only H.M Queen Margrethe had the right to use them.

As Crown Princess Mary she would wear her private jewellery and gifts from amongst other the late Queen Ingrid who bequeathed her Ruby Jewellery set to her grandson Crown Prince Frederik who in turn gave it to his wife to be on the eve of their wedding in 2004.

The Danish Crown Jewels consist amongst other of four sets, or garnitures as they are also called, which Queen Mary may now use. When not in official use they are on display at The Treasury at Rosenborg Castle.

The set Queen Mary wears in the portrait is the so-called emerald set with tiara, necklace, earrings, and a large brooch that can be divided in three parts.

The emerald set is one of the four jewellery sets which are at the disposal of The Queen of Denmark and are ordinarily on display in The Treasury at Rosenborg Castle. The Danish crown jewels are the only ones in the world that are both exhibited as museum objects and, at the same time, worn by the country’s queen.

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The set worn by Queen Mary in the official portrait was designed by jeweller C.M. Weisshaupt. It was a gift from Christian VIII to Queen Caroline Amalie, probably for their silver wedding anniversary on 22 May 1840.

The set’s emeralds and diamonds are partly reused items from the jewellery collection of Christian VI’s Queen Sophie Magdalene, partly reused items from older bracelets, combined with newly purchased stones at the time. The style consists of neoclassical forms – flower vines, bows and curled frames or cartouches, inspired by the French crown jewels of the time.

When the crown jewels are not in use, they are on display in The Treasury in the secured basement under Rosenborg Castle. It is customary that the crown jewels remain in Denmark, which means that they are not taken along on visits abroad.

The reigning monarch in Denmark at any time is the Sovereign of the Orders for the two royal orders of chivalry, the Order of the Elephant and the Order of Dannebrog. King Frederik wears for the first time a range of historical items which kings – and most recently H.M. Queen Margrethe – have worn during their reigns.

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This applies first and foremost to the special elephant which he wears on a chain. The elephant was likely created in 1671 for the anointing of Christian V in Frederiksborg Castle Church, while the order’s chain was first made in 1693 in connection with the issuance of statutes (rules) for the Order of the Elephant. The distinctive mark of the elephant is five large, square, flat diamonds shaped as a cross, and the elephant is colloquially referred to as “The Mother Elephant”, as the object is the first elephant for the whole Order of the Elephant. According to tradition, this elephant is worn by the monarch for special occasions.

Thus, Frederik IX and Margrethe II had a tradition of wearing the elephant each year on 1 January for the annual New Year’s banquet. At other events for which the Order of the Elephant is worn, the sovereign wears his or her own personal elephant.

Both the elephant and the chain as well as the two breast stars which King Frederik wears in the gala portrait are ordinarily displayed together with the regalia – that is, the objects that make up The King’s badges of rank such as crown, sceptre, orb, coronation sword and anointing ampulla – in The Treasury at Rosenborg Castle.

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Queen Mary also wears a brilliant diamond miniature portrait of her husband King Frederik in a bow of Order of Dannebrog ribbon. For generations, there has been a tradition that female members of The Royal Family wear a miniature portrait of the sovereign. Thus, in her time as Crown Princess, Queen Mary wore a portrait of Queen Margrethe.

The portrait of King Frederik was created by the British artist Tom Mulliner. It is set in a gold frame with brilliant diamonds once made for Empress Amelie of Brazil. As she was childless, the frame was passed on to her sister, Queen Josefina of Sweden.

Later, the frame was passed on to Queen Josefina’s granddaughter, the later Queen Lovisa of Denmark, who was thus the first Danish queen to wear a portrait of the Danish sovereign in this special frame.

Both Queen Alexandrine and Queen Ingrid wore the frame during the reigns of their husbands, and, from 1972 until the succession of the throne in January 2024, Queen Margrethe wore the frame with a portrait of her father, Frederik IX.

Source of information about the jewels in the portraits are from

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