by Susan Flantzer
King Christian X of Denmark (Christian Carl Frederik Albert Alexander Vilhelm) was born on September 26, 1870 at the Charlottenlund Palace in Gentofte Kommune near Copenhagen, Denmark. He was the eldest of the eight children of King Frederik VIII of Denmark and Princess Louise of Sweden, daughter of King Carl XV of Sweden. At the time of his birth, his grandfather King Christian IX was the King of Denmark.
Christian had seven siblings:
- King Haakon VII of Norway, born Prince Carl (1872 – 1957), married Princess Maud of Wales, had one son King Olav V of Norway
- Princess Louise of Denmark (1875 – 1906), married Prince Frederick of Schaumburg-Lippe, had issue
- Prince Harald of Denmark (1876 – 1949), married Princess Helena Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, had issue
- Princess Ingeborg of Denmark (1878 – 1958), Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland, had issue including Märtha Louise, Crown Princess of Norway and Astrid, Queen of the Belgians
- Princess Thyra of Denmark (1880 – 1945), unmarried
- Prince Gustav of Denmark (1887 – 1944), unmarried
- Princess Dagmar of Denmark (1890 – 1961), married Jørgen Castenskiold, had issue
Through his paternal aunts and uncles, Christian was related to many European royals. Among his first cousins were Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, King Constantine I of Greece, King George V of the United Kingdom, and Maud of Wales, Queen of Norway who married his brother Carl who became King Haakon VII of Norway.
In 1889, Christian passed the studenter-eksamen (the upper secondary school exit examination), the first Danish prince to do so. He then began a military career which was common for many princes at that time. Christian served in the 5th Dragoon Regiment and studied at the Officers Academy in Randers, Denmark from 1891 to 1892.
It was in the French city Cannes, located on the French Riviera, that Christian met his future wife Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, daughter of Friedrich Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. Because of the poor health of the Grand Duke, the family spent much time in warm climates including Cannes where they had a large estate, Villa Wenden. Christian and Alexandrine were married in Cannes, France on April 26, 1898.
The couple had two sons:
- King Frederik IX of Denmark (1899–1972), married Princess Ingrid of Sweden, had three daughters including Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
- Hereditary Prince Knud (1900–1976), married Princess Caroline-Mathilde of Denmark, had two sons and one daughter
Christian and Alexandrine received the newly built Marselisborg Palace in Aarhus as a wedding present from the Danish public, but it was not completed until 1902. The couple made Christian VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg their Copenhagen base and Sorgenfri Palace, north of Copenhagen was their summer residence.
In 1906, Christian’s grandfather King Christian IX died and Christian’s father succeeded him on the throne as King Frederik VIII and Christian became Crown Prince. Frederik VIII’s reign was to last only six years. Returning to Copenhagen after a trip to Nice, France, Frederik made a stopover in Hamburg, Germany on May 13, 1912. He registered at the Hamburger Hof Hotel using the pseudonym Count Kronborg. On the following evening, May 14, 1912, Frederik left the hotel alone for an evening stroll. When he was not found in his hotel room the next morning, a discreet search revealed that the body of a well-dressed unknown gentleman had been found on a park bench. The body, which had been moved to the city morgue a little before midnight, was that of the 68-year-old King Frederik who had died of a heart attack. Upon his father’s death, Christian succeeded to the Danish throne as King Christian X.
In 1940, during World War II, Germany occupied Denmark. Unlike King Haakon VII of Norway (Christian’s brother, born Prince Carl of Denmark) and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, both of whom went into exile during the German occupation of their countries, King Christian remained in Denmark. He is remembered for his daily horse ride without a guard through the streets of Copenhagen during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, a symbol of Danish sovereignty.
After a fall from his horse in October 1942, Christian was more or less an invalid for the rest of his reign. King Christian X died at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen on April 20, 1947, at age 76 and is buried in the Glücksburger Chapel at Roskilde Cathedral. His wife Alexandrine survived him by five years, dying in 1952.