In 1940, Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, and unlike his European colleagues – his brother, King Haakon VII of Norway; and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, King Christian X of Denmark chose not to go into exile. Though the country was occupied, he was adamant to be seen as a man of “mental resistance” to the Danes. The King – unaccompanied by any guards – took his horse, Jubilee, for a daily ride through the streets of Copenhagen. The Danes would wave at their king, or doff their hats, and he would salute back. The majority of the Danes saw this image of their ageing King riding through the streets of the capital as heroic and a symbol of national independence and resistance.
In 1942, when Christian X turned seventy-two, Adolf Hitler sent him – a man whose country he had invaded – a long telegram congratulating him. In return, he replied with a mere “Spreche Meinen beste Dank aus. Chr. Rex (Giving my best thanks, King Christian)”. This greatly enraged Hitler and caused a dispute known as the Telegram Crisis.Though the Star of David badge was never introduced in Denmark, the King mentioned that if it ever was, he would encourage every Dane to wear it in sympathy with the Jewish Danes. When the Nazis wanted to replace the Danish flag on the top of his residence, Amalienborg Palace, with a Nazi rag, the King was very aggravated and said that should they do so, he would send a Danish soldier to replace it with the Danish flag. The Nazis then replied that they would shoot said soldier, to which Christian X answered “That Danish soldier would be me”. And so the Danish flag stayed in place throughout the war.
Christian continued his daily rides till a fall from his beloved horse on 19 October 1942, left him more or less invalid for the rest of his reign. He died on 20 April 1947, but to this day he remains known as “Rytterkongen" (The Riding King) in Denmark (+more).