Above is a picture of a barrel-chested (45-inch suit jacket) officer of the Royal Danish Navy, one Christian Frederik Franz Michael Carl Valdemar Georg. Note the traditional seafaring tattoos including Chinese dragons, anchors, nautical stars and windlasses. These were earned over a lifetime of service and mainly given by the famous Tattoo Ole inkmaster in Copenhagen between voyages. Further, don’t doubt that he knew how to use that sea-knife on his belt, or the fists at his side.
Born in 1899, Christian was educated at the Royal Danish Naval Academy, becoming a cadet in 1917. He became a Sub Lt. upon graduation in 1921 he was assigned to the torpedo boat Svaerdfisken to cut his teeth in the Baltic. This followed a tour on the coastal defense battleship Peter Skram, pride of the Danish Navy, as well as other vessels until he picked up his first command, the torp boat Sobjoren in 1926. During this period he undertook sovereignty patrols of Danish possessions Greenland and Iceland as well as friendship cruises around the Baltic and to England.
Seconded to the merchant service, he sailed to China and Siam with the Danish East Asiatic Company before continuing his career as commander of the torpedo boat Hvalrossen in 1933. Reassigned to ride a desk at Naval Headquarters after picking up the rank of Commander, he followed the King’s orders and capitulated when the country was invaded by the Nazis in 1940.
During the war he encouraged the growing Danish Resistance organization, and threatened to wear a yellow star in solidarity with the Jewish community. However, with the Gestapo following his every movement, he could not join the active resistance himself. Instead he publicly visited the Copenhagen synagogue during the worst days of the Nazi occupation and openly chatted with the assembled Jews, while helping to finance the secret evacuation of Danish Jews to Sweden right under the occupier’s nose.
Christian hung his head as the Danish Navy scuttled their warships to avoid having to turn them over to Hitler, however Danish military intelligence still functioned underground, continuing to feed London knowledge of German military movements.
In 1943, the Germans placed him under arrest, from which he was only liberated at the end of the war. Promoted to a Rear Admiral in 1945, he left the navy two years later after thirty years of service…
…to become H. M. König Frederik IXth upon the death of his father.
Fredrick IX, the tattooed monarch, had a happy reign and was by all accounts treated like a rock star while on the throne, dying 14 January 1972, at age 72.
With the rank of full Admiral.
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