The Queen’s horses and the Royal Stables

Being an old Kingdom also means maintaining old traditions such as the upkeep of a royal stable more than 300 years old. Open to the public.

By Bente D. Knudsen

Den Kongelige Stald-Etat, as the royal institution is called in Danish, has been transporting the Royal family around and supplying horses for leisure and hunting activities for 326 years.

Their location at Christiansborg slot dates back 275 years to 1740, when the former Christiansborg Castle (burned down in 1794 and 1884) stood finished, and the royal horses (more than 250 at the time) moved into their new quarters.

Only the circular buildings, stables, and riding hall remain of the original castle as they have escaped both fires.

Even today, despite the use of cars for the daily transport of the Royal Family, the royal support for the up keep and maintenance of these treasures remains strong.

The royal carriages are used for the annual New Year’s levee, special events (weddings and royal visits around the country), anniversaries, as well as the official reception of new ambassadors.

The mounted Royal Gard Hussar Regiment escorts the carriages for these events, and especially the official reception of new ambassadors, which takes place several times a year, is a great sight.

The white horses drawing the Royal Coach are Kladrubers from the Czech Republic. The first horses of that race came to the Royal Stables in 1994 on the suggestion by His Royal Highness Prince Henrik.

The beautiful white horses are not born white – they change from their dark colour to white when they are six-seven years old. They have drawn coaches for princely families of Europe for centuries, and since 1994 do so again for the Danish Royal Family.

In the book about the royal horses, “De Kongelige Heste” (Hauschildt & Nitschke, 2008), Queen Margrethe expresses her belief that the Royal Stables will exist also in the future.

Queen Margrethe states that:

We have always been very conscious of keeping and maintaining them, ensuring that they not only live on, but really exist with horses and carriages, and that the horses are really used for riding with it all taking place in the beautiful old stables”

She also says how pleased she is that her daughter in law, Crown Princess Mary, is so fond of horses, as she is certain that her interest and enthusiasm will help preserve the tradition.

Since the book was written, all of the Crown Prince Couple’s children have taken up riding.

Horses were an essential part of life and breeding the right horses for the Royal Family was important.

In 1690, Danish King Christian V formulated a new set of guidelines together with Royal Esquire Anton Wolf von Haxthausen, setting standards and enabling control of the breeding of the race Frederiksborghesten used by the royal family in their stables. So 1690 became the “birth year” of the Royal Stables.

The Royal Stables and its museum are open for visits daily (closed on Mondays), except in July the horses will be on their “summer grass” holiday from 13.30 to 16:00.

They are great to visit and enable people to see the beautiful old buildings while getting a close look at the carriages and horses.

Here you can get a unique insight into the centuries’ old tradition and life form of using horses for transportation, and once outside again, the contrast to modern life really stands out.