Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 1947: Royal Transitions in Postwar Europe

Seventy years ago today, the heroic King Christian X of Denmark (whose reign, like those of the other two Scandinavian kings, had spanned both world wars), who had become a beloved symbol of Danish defiance during the German occupation, died at 76 and was succeeded by his musical son King Frederik IX.

King Christian X (1870-1947)

King Frederik IX (1899-1972)
The postwar period was a time of rapid change in Europe's monarchies. Those of Yugoslavia (1945), Italy (1946), Bulgaria (1946), and Romania (1947) all sadly fell, as Hungary and Albania which were already lacking kings but had remained nominal kingdoms were also taken over by Communists in 1946. In the surviving monarchies, there was for awhile at least one transition every year: Greece (1 Apr 1947), Denmark (20 Apr 1947), the Netherlands (1948), Monaco (1949), Sweden (1950), Belgium (1951), and finally the United Kingdom (1952) all got new sovereigns due to abdication (in the Netherlands and Belgium) or death. The last of the monarchs who had come to the throne before World War I, Christian X's younger brother Haakon VII of Norway, hung on until 1957, his death at 85 severing a last link with the monarchical Old Order. At that point, not only were there no more sovereigns from before World War I, but only Luxembourg (until 1964) and Liechtenstein (until 1989) had the same monarchs they did before World War II. Greece excepted, relatively long reigns then prevailed (and still do in Britain and Scandinavia) until the flurry of abdications a few years ago.


Michael E. said...

What about Vatican City? Pope Pius XII came to power on March 2, 1939, months before World War II, and he remained pope until October 9, 1958, over a year after Haakon VII of Norway died.

Theodore Harvey said...

It is true that I was not thinking about Vatican City. I go back and forth on whether the Papacy should be included in lists of European monarchies. Sometimes (especially before 1870) I include it and sometimes I don't. I think in this particular context it made more sense to limit the discussion to the hereditary monarchies that form a single extended family.

Theodore Harvey said...

Also, note that the title of this blog post starts with "Royal"; while the Pope may be Monarchical, he is not Royal (pertaining to kings and their families).