The Politics of Skirts




In 1898 an article appeared in a Danish newspaper, criticising Queen Louise of Denmark for her intrusion into politics:

”In Germany, they have had their Reasons to distrust the Politics of Skirts, which has been going
on at the Danish Court, but ultimately there have been no Accidents.” 1

Queen Louise is known in Danish history as a philanthropic Queen and as the ‘mother-in-law of Europe’ due to her clever societal and familial strategies, acting as a vital part of the Danish constitutional monarchy.

This article highlights some aspects of Queen Louise and the two following constitutional Queens of Denmark and their abilities to shape the roles of Queens consort in Denmark during the period 1863 to 1947. The three queens examined are Queen Louise of Hesse-Kassel (Queen of Denmark from 1863 to 1898), Queen Lovisa of Sweden-Norway (Queen of Denmark from 1906 to 1912), and Queen Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Queen of Denmark from 1912 to 1947). The research is based on a large collection of newspaper articles from two Danish newspapers: Berlingske politiske og Avertissements-Tidende and Politiken. This is to show the Queens’ societal influence and the development of their roles as queens consort over time.

The individual Queen’s respective understanding of how a Queen consort in Denmark was to appear in public along with her own individual, social and cultural capital shaped the way she acted in public. The wording in the newspapers was determined by the newspaper’s political standings. Berlingske Tidende was loyal to the Danish Royal Family, whereas Politiken politically had a more radical view. The Queens were presented in the newspapers accordingly. The appearances of the Queens consort largely took place in three fields of action: royal representation, the life of the royal family, and philanthropic endeavours. The Queens shaped the roles of queen consorts through their public appearances. They acted in certain ways in order to establish their own understandings of their significance in society. They contended against and complied with the expectations of the public, the roles of women, and the zeitgeist. Furthermore, the Queens consort were role models for women in terms of their appearances as wives and mothers in the royal family life. They represented the mirror image of the perfect family, which was their field of responsibility as women. The Queens were able to affect the perception of them as good and exemplary wives and mothers through their familial relationships, which was showcased to the public at royal family events.

The position of Queens as agents in the Bourdieusian sense of the word is poorly documented in the research field of the constitutional monarchy in Denmark. The three Queens were not, as previous research has suggested, purely of dynastic importance. They were able to influence society by manipulating the public image of them through their public appearances. These appearances were communicated to the wider public by the media. The three Queens played a vital role in the continuing existence of the Danish Monarchy through their actions. They used their informal power to shape the development in social, political and societal fields. The Queens’ actions within these fields caused The Royal House to be a successful and integral part of the Danish society today. Thus, the majority of the public is still very emotionally dedicated to The Royal House and its members.

  1. Politiken 30/9 1898. 2. “Udlandet om Dronning Louise.”






1 Comment

  1. I like this article very much. While I enjoy reading the usual biographies of royal women, it is also enriching to see their importance in cultural history and their influence on role on gender roles that were prevalent in their times.

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