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The Changing of the Guard – A march at street level from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace

One of the most ‘hyggeligt’ (cosy/charming) things about ambling through central Copenhagen at lunchtime, is that you’re likely to encounter a group of Danish soldiers marching, upright and focused, right by you. Late morning, every day, they head from the Life Barracks at Rosenborg Castle, out of the gates on Gothersgade (at number 100), and through the city’s streets – past the Rundetårn and Kongens Nytorv – to Amalienborg Palace, where with a low-key ceremony and some shouting, they relieve the guards that have stood watch there for the previous 24 hours.

Rain or shine, spring, summer, autumn or winter, there is a march of some sort – but the nature of that march changes according to who’s in at Amalienborg. This being wonderful Queen Margrethe II of Denmark‘s winter residence, the Kongevagt (the Kings Watch) – which is the ‘fullest’ of the parades that take place – will only happen between the months of September and April, and even then, only when she’s based in Copenhagen. This march leaves Rosenborg at precisely 11.27 am, and features a full marching band of 36, plus 12 drummers, plus another watch of 36.

The next type of watch is the Løjtnantsvagt (the Lieutenant Watch), which happens when either of Queen Margrethe’s sons, Crown Prince Frederik or Prince Joachim, are in residence (since they’re effectively standing in as heads of state at these times). There is, again, some ceremony to the march and the changing of the guards at Amalienborg, with the procession accompanied by flutists and drummers and – as the name suggests – taking place under the command of a lieutenant or captain. This leaves Rosenborg at 11.30am.

The smallest type of march is called Palævagt (the Manor Watch) and it leaves Rosenborg at 11.32am, and happens when no royalty is at home. This is a simpler procession, with no musical accompaniment, but it’s still nice to encounter.

The guards are dressed in smart blue trousers with a white stripe down the side, and they wear bearskin hats and carry guns or swords. One of the unique things about the procession is that it’s ceremonious and steeped in tradition, yet it’s neither ostentatious nor braggy – in other words, it’s very Danish. It’s nothing like that at Buckingham Palace, for example, and both on the streets and within the palace square, you’re at eye level with the guards.

Whether you find the procession as it leaves Rosenborg Castle, arrives at Amalienborg Palace, or somewhere in between, this is a very accessible and charming piece of royal Copenhagen tradition that it’s impossible not to like. And don’t forget, if you miss them all together, you can always catch those leaving their posts at the palace marching back to the Life Barracks.

More information

See the following links for more details on the Changing of the Guard:

kongehuset.dk
visitcopenhagen.com

And for information about the museums and castle visits at Amalienborg and Rosenborg:

kongernessamling.dk/en/amalienborg/
kongernessamling.dk/en/rosenborg/

 


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