by Scott Mehl
Marselisborg Palace is located Aarhus, Denmark, and is the summer residence of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark. Unlike the other Danish royal residences (Amalienborg, Fredensborg Palace, and Gråsten Palace) Marselisborg is privately owned by The Queen.
The current palace was built between 1899-1902, but the land has royal roots which go back much further. In 1661, King Frederik III owned the estate, then called Havreballegaard, but was forced to turn it over to one of his many creditors, Gabriel Marselis. His son, Constantin, renamed the estate Marselisborg in 1680, and upon his death in 1699, left the estate to King Christian V. Christian in turn gave the property to his illegitimate son, Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve, who then left it to his nephew, Frederik Danneskjold-Samsoe. After his death in 1770, the property had many different owners, until it was purchased by the city of Aarhus in 1896.
In 1898, the people of Aarhus decided to build a palace as a wedding gift for the future King Christian X and Princess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 10 acres of the old estate were allocated and construction began in 1899. The funding raised included the construction of the building, but not any of the furnishings. Instead, numerous people, organizations and towns around Aarhus each took on a different room of the palace, providing furnishings that were fitting for the future sovereign and his family.
The palace was completed in June 1902, and presented to the couple, who soon took up residence. The Crown Prince also leased additional land, and later purchased the entire area. This now encompasses over 32 acres of land around the palace, much of which is known as the Memorial Park, and extends from the palace to Aarhus Bay. King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine would spend nearly every summer at Marselisborg for the rest of their lives.
But after Queen Alexandrine’s death in 1952, the palace remained mostly unused. The new King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid already had their own summer residence, Gråsten Palace, and had no use for Marselisborg. By the mid 1960s, there were rumors in the media that Princess Benedikte would take up residence, and that the palace may become a temporary home-in-exile for King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. After receiving requests from several organizations to donate the property for their use, the King instead decided, in 1967, to give the property to then-Princess Margrethe and her new husband, Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, as a wedding gift. Princess Margrethe was not overly thrilled at being given the property, but Prince Henrik saw that the property had great potential and was instrumental in updating both the palace and its gardens. Using some of the funds received from the Danish people for their wedding, the couple undertook an extensive modernization of the palace before taking up residence in the summer of 1968. To this day, The Queen and her family use Marselisborg Palace during the summer, as well as often celebrating both Easter and Christmas.
Marselisborg Palace is perhaps the smallest and most intimate of the sovereign’s residences, and the one which allows her the most privacy. However, it’s small size occasionally brings about necessary changes to the traditional holiday events. In 2014, with the entire extended family of 44 people coming together for Christmas, it was necessary to move the celebrations to Fredensborg Palace instead. The Queen herself has stated that her one complaint with Marselisborg is that there isn’t much room for guests to stay.
Learn more about the other Danish Royal Residences here!