When we visited Copenhagen in August last year (2014) we felt like coming to a huge construction site. Everything was happening everywhere and all the time! We got lost so many times that I stopped keeping track completely.
I remember our way towards Amalienborg to watch the changes of the guards there, which I heard was quite a spectacular event. With my special talent of getting lost everywhere, the ongoing developments around the city did not make our way any easier, but we have finally got there on time to watch something what for a few is an everyday job and for many spectacle of pride and respect for the Royals.
When the winter struck Amalienborg is a place Danish Royal Family is moving too. Apart from Amalienborg complex they have 8 more residences at their disposal – Christiansborg Palace – the first royal residence, unfortunately destroyed by the fire, rebuild and still being used for official purposes like public audiences, meetings of the Council of State, state dinners etc. Apart from that the Royal Stables are located here. Then we have Fredensborg Palace – Royal Family spring and autumn residence, Marselisborg Palace – their summer residence, Gråsten Palace – second summer residence, Hermitage Lodge – build with hosting royal banquets during hunts in Dyrehaven, Sorgenfri Palace – preferred summer residence of King Christian X and his wife Queen Alexandrine, Château de Cayx – located in France and Schackenborg Castle – build in baroque style. Some of these places are open for visitors, some are strictly available for the Royals.
Current official Royal residence in Amalienborg consists of four identical classical palace façades located around an octagonal courtyard. In the center of the square there is a huge figure of King Frederick V, sitting on a horse.
After a fire which destroyed Christiansborg Palace on 26 February 1794 the Royal family decided to buy Amalienborg and made it its official residence. Since then the change of guards happens here every day at 12:00 and if you can be there – go and watch the spectacle.
The Royal Guards are called Den Kongelige Livgarde and every day around 11:30 they start marching from their barracks in Gothersgade 100 by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen to finally reach Amalienborg. Their route can be different every time so I would imagine sometimes you can even spot them marching near you!
If you lucky you can see a King’s watch – this is when Her Majesty the Queen is taking up her residence in Christian IX’s Palace. They are the largest guard squad and the only one who has a Danish flag – they leave from The Royal Guard barracks in Gothersgade 100 at precisely 11:27.
A lieutenant watch is when His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim, Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte, or His Royal Highness the Prince Consort becomes regent when the monarch is not available. The size of this guard squad depends on the number of Royals in residence and they are under command of a captain or lieutenant. This watch leave from The Royal Guard barracks in Gothersgade 100 at 11:30.
And the palace watch – the one which will march from barracks at 11:32 if there is no Royal residents staying in the palace and it is the smallest one, under command of sergeant.
Both the king’s and the lieutenant watch do not march in silence – they are joined by music and tambourine corps. And on special occasions, like the queen’s birthday on 16 April – they wear red guard gala and gala flags with the royal coat of arms on them.
During our stay in Copenhagen we have witnessed only the small squad of palace watch, but regardless it was quite a spectacle. Such event is always a tourist attraction and people are drawn to it. And what is even more important for every budged traveler – this is a free event! So splash on a better lunch after!