The fourth episode of Prince Joachim’s documentary about Denmark aired on Wednsday! Read a detailed summary below!
Note: In order to write a summary as detailed as possible without it being a boring translation, I am going to split the summary by locations, just like the episode does. All the big quotes are quotes said by Prince Joachim in the episode. The translation and summary are mine and I tried to research the context as much as possible to be able to not make historical mistake. However, if you spot any, please let me know so I can correct it. And if you have any question about something that was said/shown in the documentary but was not included here, don’t hesitate to ask!
EPISODE 4: BORDERS
You can watch the episode here and (hopefully) follow along with the summary!
Borders define a country and define who we are. Are we a big or a small nation? Do we have access to the sea or are we protected by a mountain chain? Denmark’s borders have moved a lot through the ages. Our kings have expanded their territories so the line we see on the map has often cost many lives. The border is not only along the coast and over land. Now it can also lie in the air above Amager.
The Danish Border
Prince Joachim observes how a border agent works. He tells Ghina Al Rhaj – the border agent- that behind the glass they are on the safe side but that outside the glass, they are in a no man’s land. Ghina says she sees “everyone landing. The whole world can stand here before me.” Ghina greets people in English and French in addition to Danish. Prince Joachim explains that while Ghina is the first to welcome the people to Denmark, she can also be the first to reject them if necessary. Ghina says she is looking after Denmark’s security. She shows Prince Joachim that she always check that the passport she is presented with has the microprint that shows that it is a real passport.
A thousand years ago, the Danish kingdom stretched all the way to England. It can be difficult to understand when you look at a contemporary map of Denmark. In the old days, Denmark was a great power with enormous possessions and international influence. The conquest of England begins with the Vikings’ trade trips. And if the trade did not go as planned, then they plundered people. The locals were defending themselves. The Vikings had to think bigger. Sweyn Forkbeard drops the local loot and conquers the whole of England instead. Forkbeard’s son, Canute, now reigns over Denmark and England and so it is quite natural that he is nicknamed Canute the Great.
Winchester Cathedral, Great Britain – Cheltenham College Schola Cantorum
Canute is moving his entire government seat here to Winchester. My ancestor, Canute, died in this country and is buried in the cathedral of Winchester which is one of Europe’s largest.
Prince Joachim meets with Alastair Bruce who tells Joachim that the Cathedral holds so much of Danish history. He explains that while the Danes went everywhere, they came to England specifically because they found out there were a lot of opportunities for trades. Alastair shows Prince Joachim where Canute is buried, at the end of the Cathedral, because the area closest to the altar is where Kings and Queens are buried. We don’t know in which coffins Canute, his wife and his son are buried but we do know they are buried in one of those shown by Alastair. He explains that in the 17th century, England executed its King and ended the monarchy. Thus, everything linked to monarchy was vandalized. These coffins were opened and emptied on the floor. So after the Restoration in 1661, they had to gather everything to put it back together. So we don’t know exactly how they did it. Now, they are currently doing works on the content of the boxes to find out exactly who is in them. Alastair Bruce says t’s also a way to bring to life Danish history and Danish Kings again.
Before leaving, Prince Joachim asks Alastair what was the influence of the Vikings and the Danes over England. Alastair says that it created in Britain this desire to trade and created a massive empire.
It is fascinating that we laid the seeds for the British Empire, especially when we lost all of England after Canute’s death. Then the English rule themselves. A big chunk of the Danish king’s territory is lost forever. Now there is a playroom in the royal family. For the next 200 years, Denmark is ravaged by family strife over who should be king. The kings are now starting to spend their time on the Baltic Sea instead of cutting each other for pom-fritters.
The Baltic Sea is an important area for trade and if you can get a share in the wealth that is traded here, you are well. That is why several Danish kings are trying to conquer land in the Baltic Sea. Some of the places we hold ourselves are here in Estonia.Here, 11 Danish kings ruled several times.
Prince Joachim meets with writer Silvie Teesalu. She is so interested in the Danish history and influence in the country that she learned to speak Danish by herself. Together, they discuss the 800 years of relationship between Estonia and Denmark. Silvie explains that in the early 20th century, there were very close relations between Estonia and Denmark, especially when it came to education, farming and trade. They also talk about the Danish TV show ‘Matador’.
They are standing in front of the Parliament and Sylvie explains that the coat of arms come from the time of King Valdemar.
The last Danish king to rule Estonia was in 1346 when Valdemar Atterdag was missing money and sold the area. Today, the country is an independent republic with its own president.
From Helsingør you can spot Sweden. The city was once in the middle of the kingdom and was not the outermost border to Sweden to which the ferry sails around the clock. Because on the other side, we have Skane, Halland and Blekinge. They are the size of Jutland and once belonged to Denmark. It may be difficult to imagine that the Sound was once Danish waters and those on the other hand were of course Danish. A border is not just a line on a map. Borders have a great impact on our language, culture, food habits, that is, everything we have grown up with as Danes or Swedes.
Prince Joachim meets with Captain Claus Kofoed Nielsen. The Captain says he’s been working for the past 20 years so he crossed the border many times. They talk about how both countries have been enemies in the past but now they have mixed crew on bord.
There is no touch on Skåne, Halland and Blekinge over here. Since the Viking Age it was as Danish as Zealand and Funen. In the 1600s, the Swedish kings think that Skåne must be Swedish. They will make money on the riches of the Baltic and on agriculture. Skane is close to Copenhagen, so the Swedes can attack the city whenever they want. And they actually have donethat too often. The relationship with the Swedes is ruined and for hundreds of years Denmark and Sweden are fighting several wars. We end up losing Skane, Halland and Blekinge and today they are Swedish regions.
1536 – 1814
We lose a large part of the Danish kingdom to the Swedes. But Denmark / Norway remains under Danish kings for the next 300 years. We still consider Ludvig Holberg, who wrote “Jeppe on the hill” ‘as Danish, even though he was born in Bergen.
Prince Joachim asks people living in Bergen if they also think that Holberg is Danish and the lady says that it can be discussed. Prince Joachim meets a group of men near the statue of Holberg and ask if they agree that Holberg is the biggest Danish poet. The man answers “From Bergen, yes”, implying that Holberg is not Danish. The group he meets next tells him that Holberg is Norwegian. The woman says ” He is Norwegian but he is from Bergen” and she says that being from Bergen is more important than being Norwegian. While saying goodbye to the kids, Prince Joachim insists on Holberg being Danish.
Here he is, Holberg. We have no doubt that he is Danish. In Bergen, there is no doubt that he is from Bergen. We agreed with the locals that he is not from Norway.
In the 19th century, Denmark helps Napoleon, which loses wars against virtually all of Europe. At the peace talks in 1814, Denmark is forced to relinquish Norway to Sweden, which is on the winning side. But we keep Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. But another part of the Danish king’s kingdom is lost.
1536 – 1944
As Denmark and Norway are a single kingdom, Norway’s possessions follow. That is, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and then this barren, volcanic island with its hot springs. For more than 400 years, Iceland and Greenland are the northern border of Denmark. It is very far from Copenhagen and up here. In 1918 the Icelanders became independent and at the end of the Second World War they finally became independent and became an independent republic. Greenland and the Faroe Islands have autonomy but are still part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Prince Joachim asks where is the border of Denmark and how it’s marked because when you’re in Iceland, you are in the Kingdom of Denmark but you are not in Denmark for example. Lars Krabbe, a police commissioner, tells him that the moment you have to show your passport, you’re crossing the border to Denmark. Krabbe explains that here, they also check entry for the other European countries so they check that travellers meet the conditions to travel in the Schengen area. He also explains that they standing currently in the no man’s land so even though Prince Joachim is within the realm of Denmark, on Danish soil, on Danish concrete, he is not admitted in Denmark yet. In order to be admitted, he (and every other traveler) has to show his passport.
The Danish-German border
Between Denmark and the German kingdoms are Schleswig and Holstein. Between Ribe and Hamburg, the Danish king also reigns because here he is a duke. The duchies are not part of the Kingdom of Denmark. I begin the story of the loss of the duchies somewhere else.
In the 19th century, Europeans became preoccupied with their national identity. This also applies in Denmark. We see ourselves as Danes. In conjunction with the Constitution, one seeks to gather all that belongs the king as one kingdom. That includes the duchies as well. But there is resistance, and it ends with rebellion and war. And Germany suddenly shows up well in Jutland. Never before has Denmark been so small.
Ærø is part of the South Funen Archipelago. It is not related to the loss of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany and so on. The streets of Ærøskøbing are so idyllic. That’s all we imagine when we say Denmark. But in fact it should have been Germany because Ærø was part of the Duchy of Schleswig and it was lost after all. However, during the peace negotiations in 1864, Ærø was forgotten and thus became part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
I am glad that the island ended up being part of Denmark, because until the defeat in 1864 it had been one long march against a very small map of Denmark. We have lost England, Estonia, Skåne, Halland and Blekinge, Norway and Iceland. We have also lost in Tharangambadi, the Gold Coast and the West Indies which in 1917 we sold to America. And many other places. But we were allowed to be a little lucky. Ærø becomes part of Denmark, although the loss of Schleswig-Holstein remains a bleeding wound. However, there is a good solution in store.
Rudbøl, Southern Jutland
In World War I, Denmark is neutral and we do not lose land. But we are lucky to get some of Schleswig back. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, Denmark is growing. The northern part of Schleswig goes back to Denmark and the new border is being drawn. A four to five houses are allowed to sneak in. Border crossing becomes a reality. It can be seen here in Rudbol. D for Denmark. DRP for Deutsches Reich Prussia. The boundary stone number 245.
Prince Joachim concludes the episode by saying:
That was my story about Denmark’s borders and how we have had a peaceful relationship with our neighbors.
Note: I just found these photos of Prince Joachim working with stylist Pernille Holm on his wardrobe for the documentary. The photos were posted a year ago after the news of the documentary series was officially announced.
She also posted a photo of Prince Joachim in January 2019: