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The father-in-law of Europe would gather the whole family at Fredensborg Palace every summer. Alexandra married the British crown prince, Edward. Dagmar became the wife of Tsar Alexander III and William became the king of Greece. Photo: Torkild Jensen

The father-in-law of Europe gathers the whole family at Fredensborg Palace

Øllebrød* and water fights at the palace

The Russian, British and Greek flags would be hoisted alongside the Dannebrog (the Danish flag) on the “King’s Bridge” at Lake Esrum. In the summer of 1889, Christian IX’s children and grandchildren were on holiday at Fredensborg Palace. Tsar Alexander’s loyal guard dog would yawn on his mat. He spent the nights at the door of his master's bedroom protecting him from would-be assassins.

The Russian Tsar goes mushroom picking

It was more of a formality than a necessity. The tsar was in fact not at all concerned while he was on his summer holiday at Fredensborg Palace. He went sailing with his family on Lake Esrum, cycling in the forests of North Zealand, picked mushrooms and played with his children in the gardens. The great man who had grown up within the cold confines of the winter palace must have found the warmth and relaxed atmosphere of Fredensborg very refreshing.

The howling Princess Alexandra 

The whole family would gather for a breakfast of øllebrød. The British crown prince, Edward, could not abide øllebrød, but the frugal father-in-law would not serve anything else for breakfast. Edward would get bored and would long for the bright lights of London. 

His wife, the Danish princess Alexandra, would finish a letter to Queen Victoria with the words “They are howling, so I must say goodbye for today”. The family had many traditions especially when it came to games and recreation. They would amuse themselves by imitating animal noises and throwing water out of the windows right down onto the heads of unsuspecting family members.

*A traditional Danish dish – porridge made of rye bread and beer.