by Scott Mehl
Gråsten Palace is one of the summer residences of the Danish Royal Family, located in southern Denmark. It was originally just a small hunting lodge in the 1500s, with several palaces built in its place after successive fires destroyed the previous buildings. Count Frederik Ahlefeldt and his son built a large baroque palace in the late 1600s, which was destroyed by yet another fire in 1757. All that remained was the palace chapel and a few pavilions.
By this time, the palace was owned by the Augustenborg family (from 1725-1852). In 1759, a new southern wing was added to the remaining structures, but it wasn’t until 1842 that the main central block of the palace was built.
The property was acquired by King Frederik VII in 1852, but would later return to the Augustenborg family in 1864. It would be nearly 20 years, however, before they would be allowed to live there. Due to its location in the Schleswig region, and the Prussian’s negative opinions of the Augustenborg family, they were not permitted to use either Gråsten Palace or the nearby Augustenborg Palace until 1884.
In 1920, following World War I, the Danish State purchased the palace from the Augustenborg family for 5 million DKK. It was then used as housing for court officials, and for a period of time served as a library.
In 1935, the State put the palace at the disposal of the newly married (future) King Frederik IX and Princess Ingrid of Sweden, as a wedding gift. Following an extensive renovation, the couple took up residence in August 1936. Other than several years during the second World War, the couple continued to use Gråsten as their summer residence until their deaths in 1972 and 2000.
Following Queen Ingrid’s death, the palace passed to Queen Margrethe, who continues to use the palace for several weeks each summer. It has become the traditional site of the Danish Royal Family’s annual photo shoot with the media. The photo above shows the family in 2014, where they posed on a small bridge along the walkway to the ‘Little House’, a small playhouse on the grounds which was a gift from King Christian X to his granddaughters.
Learn more about the other Danish Royal Residences here!