While the personal flag of Prince Henrik of Denmark covering his coffin was well-lit when the Prince left the royal residence in Copenhagen for the last time, other royal flags were flying at half mast over Amalienborg without proper lighting. On a grey and rainy February day, the decision to fly the royal flags after sunset was a bit of a mistake.
Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, died at the age of 83 on Tuesday 13 February 2018 at the Palace of Fredensborg. The funeral service will take place on Tuesday 20 February in the chapel of the Palace of Christiansborg.
Thursday 15 February at 10 a.m. the Prince’s body was driven from Fredensborg to Copenhagen. The coffin was draped in the Prince’s personal flag which is a variant of the national flag of Denmark, with swallow tails like other Danish royal and state flags and a white square in the middle of the cross decorated with the Prince’s royal coat of arms.
The hearse was followed by cars carrying the widow of the departed, Queen Margrethe, and their two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, together with their wives and children. In the royal residence of Amalienborg, the coffin was guarded by sailors from the Royal Yacht Dannebrog and soldiers from the Royal Life Guards.
The transfer of the Prince’s remains from Amalienborg to the palace chapel at Christiansborg was scheduled to be on Friday 16 February at 6 p.m. Christiansborg is the political centre of Denmark; the palace houses the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, and the Danish Supreme Court, Højesteret.
Until the funeral the Prince is lying in state in the palace chapel and for three days it will be possible for the public to visit this castrum doloris. Yesterday 5,081 Danes paid their respects to Prince Henrik at Christiansborg and many more are expected to queue up to do likewise today and tomorrow.
Had the transfer from Amalienborg to Christiansborg taken place an hour earlier, the unfortunate break with flag protocol would not have happened. The sun set in Copenhagen at 17:13 on Friday. 50 minutes later, when the Prince’s hearse left Amalienborg accompanied by a cortege of the Royal Family with thousands of onlookers lining the route in the rain, it was already dark.
Earlier Friday the Royal Danish Court had announced that the flag flying at half mast over the residence of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, was to “be taken down at 6 p.m. and not at sunset, as a farewell to the Prince”.
As a grey and rainy Copenhagen afternoon grew darker and darker in the hour before 6 p.m. live TV transmission from the royal residence documented that the Queen’s flag, the Crown Prince’s flag and the other royal flags at Amalienborg ought to have been taken down at sunset.
If there is no proper lighting of a flagpole, it is not permissible to fly a flag in the dark as it is not possible to distinguish it from other flags, commercial logo banners or any type of textile.
Sometimes it makes good sense to break with protocol. These days Danes show their respect and love for Prince Henrik and his mourning family in many different ways. Henrik was a colourful and sometimes unconventional prince. However, the idea to fly the flag over the royal residence after sunset when there are no means to illuminate the flagpoles at Amalienborg seems misguided. It has never been considered a sign of respect to fly the flag in the dark, not even when mourning the death of a prince.
This is part 2 in a series about Prince Henrik of Denmark. Read also:
Prince Henrik of Denmark dies at 83
The Prince Who Wanted To Be King Got A King’s Crown On His Flag