Danish King Christian X had a very unusual habit for a royal – to ride his horse daily through Copenhagen’s streets, without any guards, saluting the citizens who paused to acknowledge him. But 75 years ago, on such an excursion in October 1942, his horse lurched – and the 6-foot-6-inch, elderly King thudded onto ground. He survived his injuries, mainly to a leg, but was never able to resume his city rides.
The King’s riding gesture showed solidarity with his people and, as World War II raged and Nazis occupied Denmark, it was widely publicized by the Allies. But another heart-warming account, also circulating, turned out to be a myth: that the King wore a yellow Star of David on his jacket in sympathy with Danish Jews forced to display one on their clothes. In fact, he never did – and nor did any Jews in Denmark, because it was not required there unlike in other occupied countries. “Though untrue, the story accurately reflects King Christian’s opposition to persecuting or removing Denmark’s Jewish citizens and residents,” according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Most of Denmark’s Jewish population managed to flee to Sweden, but 120 of those captured perished.
—Photo of King Christian X: 1940, National Museum of Denmark via Wikimedia Commons
—Video of King riding in Copenhagen by A/S Film-Centralen-Palladium
—U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia: King Christian X of Denmark
—U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia: Denmark
—Kristeligt Dagblad: Kong Christian X and his favorite horse (in Danish)
—Photo of Star of David from WW II, by Daniel Ullrich, Three Dots, Wikimedia Commons