Historic precedence

It was a serious accident, and the risk of dying from infection was considerable. Everyone was relieved that the Crown Prince’s son survived, which in itself could justify saving the coat. But something else may also have been important – the boy’s military training, which was a major element of the education of all boys in the royal family. Fritz’ father had proposed the navy: perhaps the boy had the germ of a new Christian 4th in him. Christian IV(1577-1640) was the legendary Danish king who ruled the twin kingdom of Denmark-Norway and its powerful navy when Denmark was a major European power.

The blue coat from 1820 can be seen as a remarkable parallel to clothing worn by King Christian 4th in 1644, when he was badly injured in battle at sea against archenemy Sweden. The blood-stained clothes that he wore were preserved (and are still displayed at the Rosenborg Castle), and became national icons. Christian 4th was Fritz’ great inspiration, perceived as a colorful, strong conqueror. Christian 4th’s clothing had been taken to the Rosenborg Castle just a few years after the battle had taken place, and was often shown to important visitors in the years that followed. They may well have made a permanent impression on young Prince Frederik.

Fritz’ famous tendency to exaggerate, even as a child, later included a fantasy story as to how he’d injured his left hand during hand-to-hand combat during the bloody battle of Isted in 1850. However, while that battle was being fought, he was actually safely ensconced at his favorite castle, Frederiksborg, quietly enjoying his favorite hobbies of fishing and archeological excavations.

Prince Frederik ascended the throne as Frederik 7th in 1840. His shortened left thumb is just visible in this photograph.


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