From the history of 
the Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, Denmark

H. E. M. Tsarina / Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia and the Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, Denmark.

On the occasion of the 150th birthday of H.E.M. Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, placed a wreath at her sarcophagus in the Roskilde Cathedral and in the December 1997 issue of the Journal of the Royal Guards Association an article (in Danish) about Tsarina Maria Feodorovna and the Royal Guards Association was published. The article has now been translated into English.

Kejserinde Dagmar og Garderforeningen i Koebenhavn.
(The Danish name of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna was "Dagmar", but as that
name can not be translated into Russian, the Empress adopted the Russian name Maria Feodorovna / Maria Fedorovna.)

H.E.M. Tsarina Maria Feodorovna of Russia.

Garderforeningen i Koebenhavn / The Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, is the oldest regimental / all ranks association in the world, founded 1885.
The by-laws stipulate that only men who have served in "the Royal Guard on foot or Horse" can become members.

At the beginning the Association had financial difficulties, but the Board asked for - and received - financial aid from Empress Dagmar / Maria Feodorovna and her husband H.E.M. Tsar Alexander III in order to be able to purchase - among other items - a very costly silk standard/colours.

The father of the Empress, H.M. King Christian 9, was for many years, while the Empress was a child and young girl, the commander of the Royal Horse Guard. The Royal Horse Guard (shut down 1866) was a small unit of less than 150 men, and there is no doubt that the Empress felt a special bond with the men who had served so closely under her father.

Already in 1889 Tsar Alexander accepted an invitation to become the first Honorary Member of the Association. That gave the Association a "Stamp of approval" at a time when that was not obvious, as the members of the Association were ordinary citizens, who came from all walks of life, at a time when there was strong class divisions.

In 1909 the women's liberation had come so far in Denmark that a woman could be asked to accept honorary membership of the Association, an invitation the Empress accepted.

Until the end of her life, the Chairman and Hon. Secretary of the Association were often received by the Empress, who supported the endowments of the Association - and the Christmas party for the children of the members - for as long as she had the financial means to do so, so it is fair to say that until the end of her life there was a special relationship between "Empress Dagmar" and the Royal Guards Association.

After the Russian revolution the Empress settled in Denmark and in 1997 the Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, has no less that 11 members who have served as her guards.
The Empress spent the coldest months of the year at Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen, but she did prefer staying at her villa "Hvidoere", 10 kilometres North of Copenhagen. She and her sister, H.E.M. Queen Alexandra of Great Britain and India bought the villa in 1907 as a summerhouse.
At Hvidoere the guard was a corporal and six guardsmen. The guard went from the Royal Guards Barracks in Copenhagen to Klampenborg by train and marched the last kilometre to Hvidoere.
The off duty guardsmen had rooms over the stables, the guard room was a rather small room with four beds and an oven - and sand on the floor.
Hvidoere had a garden on both sides of the Beach Road and during their spare time the guardsmen were permitted to take a walk in the garden and through a tunnel to the part of the garden which was located on the water side of the Beach Road.

The Empress took good care of the guardsmen on duty. She gave orders that the cook should every morning supply coffee and freshly baked bread to the corporal and the guardsmen - that did not happen in any other location where the Royal Guard served.

The inner guard duty was taken care of by two Russian life-cossacks who had learnt quite a bit of Danish. They slept on the floor in front of the door to the bedroom of the Empress.

The Royal Guards Association wishes to honour the memory of Empress Dagmar /  Tsarina Maria Feodorovna on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of her birth as a "Thank You" for the aid she and her husband gave to the Association during the first, difficult, years.

Three Guardsmen, members of the Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, who stood guard for the Empress, will, on behalf of the Association, place a wreath at her sarcophagus in the Roskilde Cathedral.

1925/ Johannes Hardenberg-Bruhn,1927/ Johann Christian Haar og1928/ Emil Schlenker.

One of the guardsmen,  Johannes Hardenberg-Bruhn, became a guardsman in 1925 and did guard duty at Hvidoere as a guardsman.
In 1928 he was a sergeant. At the time very few people had a telephone, but Hardenberg-Bruhn lived very close to the Barracks of the Royal Guard and suddenly a guardsman came running:
Sergeant Hardenberg-Bruhn should rush to Hvidoere and take over command of the guard. The Tsarina had passed away and because many members of the royal family could be expected at Hvidoere, the NCO in charge should be a sergeant, not a corporal.
For that reason Hardenberg-Bruhn became the last NCO in charge of the Guards of the Empress. It was a very moving occasion.
The guardsmen on duty had, as a "Thank You" for the kindness the Empress always showed the guardsmen, pooled their resources in order to buy a large bouquet of flowers.
The sergeant was given the task of delivering the bouquet.
He was shown into the grand ballroom where the Empress had been laid to rest in an open coffin. H.M. King Christian X and H.M. Queen Alexandrine were present. Afterwards the weeping life-cossacks embraced the guardsmen and thanked them for their service.
During the day many wreaths and flowers arrived. The Royal Guards Association, Copenhagen, of course also sent a wreath.
When the time had come for the coffin to be taken to the Marble Church in Copenhagen most flowers and wreaths were taken in a separate van, but the daughter of the Empress, Grand Duchess Xenia, ordered that the wreath from the Association should follow the coffin.

Peter Horsten. November 1997.
Translation into the English by Peter Horsten, May 2002.

Photo's:  (Click here.)
The Imperial Family 1866.
The Imperial family 1869.
Tsarina Maria Feodorovna at Hvidoere ca. 1925. (Pls. note the top of the Royal Guard sentry box in the background.)
The Empress and her daughter, Grand Duchess Olga, at Hvidoere ca. 1925.

LINK to the Grand Duchess Olga - page on the web site of Ballerup Museum.

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The Imperial family 1866.

The Imperial family 1869.

Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.
Hvidoere ca. 1925.
(The picture has always been slanted.)


Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
with her daughter
Grand Duchess Olga
at Hvidoere, 1925

Last update of this web page: February 2006. A larger version of the photo from the Roskilde Cathedral replaced the old in October 2012.
Web master: ©  Peter Horsten.

Peter Horsten  Peter Henrik Horsten