All societies across time are built upon a system of social status (even Communism) and organised via a pyramid. It perhaps says something about the human need for order that even class-less anarchists need a system of organisation with individuals at the apex. What differentiates between these systems (what varied, and still does vary) is the way that person is put and kept at the top.
Democracies do this through a voting system that allows people throughout the pyramid to vote. This is fundamentally what a democracy is without quibbling about the distinctions within it. Communism may purport a class-less society but puts a leader or team (first of equals) at the top and maintains this in the population through a mixture of coercion and conviction. Theocracies, like international religious bodies, maintain control through divine selection; meritocracy through measures that convey merit (such as the pre-British Hindu states and the scholar system in China) and aristocracies through birth.
While mostly democracies of some form today, much of Europe used to be aristocracies with a king/elector at the apex – an aristocract. Social state used to be defined by where and to whom one was born. A member of the landed gentry was always of a higher social class than the son of a merchant simply by virtue of being born that way. Individual virtue or vice played no role whatsoever. The show Blackadder is perhaps the most outright characterization of this.
So what was the reason for this whole exposition? To introduce the topic of monarchy (there were many easier ways to do so, I’m not too sure why I tried to sound like an ivy tower academic).
This hierarchical rule of a king was the way that Europe used to operate. At the top of the pile were the royals, descendents of political leaders who created states, nations and countries. These people were considered a higher breed of people, a tribe/race (in the loose sense) apart and these individuals could not (and would not) have their blood mixed with those of other classes. These became codified over generations as rules of succession and position within royalty.
That’s why royals and nobles who wanted to remain with the title were barred from marrying commoners.
Marriage was both biological and political. Apart from expanding the gene pool it was also a tool for forming alliances. But how to increase the gene pool and form alliances? Marry other nobles then.
This was the system that was in place and that thrived for millennia among the noble (royal) classes in Europe. Some people played the game really well, creating the highly inbred royal lines today. One of the masters of this has the sobriquet – Father-in-Law of Europe.
Christian IX, the Father-in-Law of Europe, had 6 children, 4 of which went on to become monarchs in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Russia and Greece. In fact based on the family tree Queen Elizabeth has to pay respects to the Danish King as the latter is more senior on the tree. The Danish royal family, unlike royal families that have little relation to their past (such as the House of Windsor in the United Kingdom, or the House of Bernadotte in Sweden, (the House of Glücksburg) has a clear bloodline to the founding House of Oldenburg.
And this, the Amalienborg palace was his home – the ancestral home of Europe’s royalty.
Our guide stopped us before entering the palace grounds, ” watch out for what the guards do. If they look in your direction and stomp their feet once you need to move out of the way… If they stomp a second time, I’m just saying their rifles are loaded.”
Almost as if one cue, one person in the troop walked into the path of the guard and heard the stomp from the guard.
Talk about premonition.
Perhaps the guards looked too spectacular, the first that that caught the eyes of most people seemed to be how large the top hats were, “even larger than the ones at Buckingham Palace huh”.
It was later that we noticed the large roundabout encircling a statue with a man in Roman garb on horseback – Frederick V, a king known for his hedonic lifestyle and visions of grandeur.
The buildings around housing different members of the royal family. You wouldn’t realise its importance as a home for royalty (not just Danish but European) just by the looks of it. The roundabout should build up to a more spectacular palatial structure but it does not. Amalienborg doesnt have a tall structure, Dome or bell tower. The beautiful Dome structure belonging instead to a church (Frederik’s Church).
The humbleness of the individual palaces has nothing to do with the humility of the royal members who built it but simply because the four palaces were not meant for royalty. The four grand mansions were originally built for four noble families, on strict instructions from the architect but was later taken over by the royal family when their own palace burned down. One mansion is the home of the reigning Queen and another for the Crown Prince among other purposes, the root house of most European monarchies still existing today.
I wonder what Buck House (Buckingham Palace) thinks…
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