200th Birthday Anniversary of the Father-in-Law of Europe

King Christian IX of Denmark
8 April 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of King Christian IX of Denmark, known to history as "the father-in-law of Europe". Born into an obscure German family and with seemingly little prospects in store for him, it is impressive that Christian not only stumbled upon a lucky hand in life with his appointment as heir to the Danish crown, but the marriages of his children and grandchildren allowed his previously insignificant house to conquer almost every European throne by the start of the twentieth century. Today, every reigning king or queen in Europe except for those of Sweden and the Netherlands is a descendant of King Christian IX. 

The matchmaking powers of Christian's family, though historians have agreed his wife, Louise, actually held the steering wheel in that department, have only been rivaled by the "grandmother of Europe", Queen Victoria. Interestingly enough, Christian at one point attempted to put himself forward as a possible candidate for the young queen's husband. Instead of joining themselves together in matrimony, Christian and Victoria allowed their progeny to populate the thrones of Europe, and indeed many of their descendants intermarried with one another, beginning with the marriage of Christian's eldest daughter, Alexandra, to Victoria's eldest son, the future King Edward VII. 

Members of Christian IX's family at one of their annual summer reunions.
Among the attendees pictured are Christian's grandson
 Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (standing fourth from
left in white uniform), with King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway to his
right, and King George I of Greece standing on far right. Second row: Nicholas
II's wife, Empress Alexandra of Russia, with Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia
next to her, and Alexandra,  Princess of Wales seated to the right. To
Alexandra's right is her father,  King Christian IX, with Dowager Empress
Marie of Russia beside him. 
The man born at Gottorp Castle in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany on 8 April 1818 as His Highness Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, later Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was only the fourth son of the Duke of Glücksburg. The Glücksburgs were a family of little importance and Christian, as a fourth son, possessed even less importance in the web of Europe's royal hierarchy. His attempt to win the hand of the young Queen Victoria proved unsuccessful, and instead he married Louise, a princess of the German house of Hesse-Kassel. His bride proved to be slightly more clever than he and also better connected from a dynastic standpoint to the Danish royal family, as she was a first cousin of the reigning king, Frederick VII. It was her bloodline that helped sway the childless King Frederick VII to nominate Christian, by virtue of his wife's ancestral connections, as heir to the Danish throne. 

Christian and Louise raised six children - Frederick, Alexandra, William, Dagmar, Thyra, and Valdemar - in the Yellow Palace, a deceptively-named manor adjacent to the Danish king's palace in Copenhagen. Living off of Christian's meager pay as an army officer, the family would not receive any significant boost in their financial standing until Christian became king with Frederick VII's death in 1863. 

That year of 1863 proved a landmark one for Christian and his family. In March, the eldest daughter, Alexandra, married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne. At the end of that same month, Christian and Louise's second son, William, was officially bestowed with the vacant throne of Greece, adopting the name George and becoming King George I of the Hellenes. Christian himself became King Christian IX of Denmark in November of that year. 
Four generations of Danish kings. Center: Christian IX, with his great-
grandson, the future King Frederick IX, standing in front of him. To
the left is Christian IX's son, King Frederick VIII, and to the right is
Frederick VIII's son, King Christian X.

King Christian IX and Queen Louise
with their daughter, Alexandra, Princess
of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), Alexandra's
daughter, Princess Louise, and
Louise's child, Alexandra.
The family's impressive dynastic links diversified over the years, with their second daughter, Dagmar, marrying Tsarevich Alexander, heir to the Russian throne, in 1866. She changed her name to Marie Feodorovna upon converting to the Russian Orthodox Church and became Empress of Russia when her husband ascended the throne as Tsar Alexander III in 1881. Christian IX's third daughter, Thyra, married the dispossessed Crown Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, whose father had been deprived of his throne after Otto von Bismarck's leadership over Prussia forced Hanover's annexation into the German Empire. The youngest of Christian and Louise's children, Valedmar, married Princess Marie of Orleans but, unlike his elder siblings, rejected offers of vacant European thrones. Upon the death of Christian IX in 1906, the eldest son succeeded to the Danish throne as King Frederick VIII.

Among Christian IX's grandchildren who reigned as monarchs were King Christian X of Denmark, King Haakon VII of Norway (he was the second son of King Frederick VIII and was chosen by the Norwegian parliament to found a new dynasty there when the country declared its independence from Sweden in 1905), King George V of Great Britain, King Constantine I of Greece, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick. 

The present European monarchs descended from Christian IX are Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark; King Harald V of Norway; King Philippe of Belgium; King Felipe VI of Spain; and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. King Albert II of Belgium, who abdicated in 2013, is also his descendant; Queen Sofia of Spain, the wife of the abdicated King Juan Carlos, is descended from Christian as well, and the former King Constantine II of Greece and his wife, Queen Anne-Marie, are both his descendants. 
Members of the Danish and Greek royal families gather in Copenhagen for
Christmas. The current Danish royal family descends from Christian IX's eldest
son, Frederick VIII of Denmark, while the Greek royal family descends from Christian
IX's second son, King George I of Greece.
King Frederick IX, the great-grandson of King Christian IX, had three daughters, and
their children and grandchildren are pictured here.
Seated in the middle from left are Queen Anne-Marie of Greece 

(Frederick IX's youngest daughter), with her husband, King Constantine II of Greece.
Next is Frederick IX's eldest daughter, Queen Margrethe II, with her husband, Prince

Henrik, followed by Frederick IX's middle daughter, Princess Benedikte.