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The House of Glücksburg

The House of Glücksburg (also spelled Glücksborg), shortened from House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, is a Dano-German branch of the House of Oldenburg, members of which have reigned at various times in Denmark, Norway, Greece and several northern German states.

The family takes its ducal name from Glücksburg, a small coastal town in Schleswig, on the southern, German side of the fjord of Flensburg that divides Germany from Denmark. In 1460, Glücksburg came, as part of the conjoined Dano-German duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, to Count Christian VII of Oldenburg whom, in 1448, the Danes had elected their king as Christian I, the Norwegians likewise taking him as their hereditary king in 1450.

Older Line


In 1564, Christian I’s great-grandson, King Frederik II, in re-distributing Schleswig and Holstein’s fiefs, retained some lands for his own senior royal line while allocating Glücksburg to his brother Duke Johann II the Younger (1545-1622), along with Sonderburg, in appanage. Both King Frederik II and Johann II the Younger were sons of King Christian III of Denmark and his wife, Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg.

Johann II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg

This line was founded by the duke Philip of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (1584–1663) a son of Johann II the Younger of Denmark. Johann’s heirs further sub-divided their share and created, among other branches, a line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg dukes at Beck (an estate near Minden bought by the family in 1605), who remained vassals of Denmark’s kings.

The line was named after Glücksburg Castle, where he had his headquarters. Members of this line bore the title of Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. However, they had limited powers in ruling their territory, since it was not an estate of the Realm, but a fief of the Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp. Later, the family gave up these rights altogether and continued as titular dukes.

The last duke of this line, Frederik Henrik Wilhelm, died in 1779 without any hires and this older line of the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg became extinct.

Younger Line

By 1825, the castle of Glücksburg had returned to the Danish crown and was given that year by King Frederick VI, along with a new ducal title, to his kinsman Frederich of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck. Friedrich suffixed the territorial designation to the ducal title he already held, in lieu of “Beck” (an estate the family had, in fact, sold in 1745). Thus emerged the extant Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

The Danish line of Oldenburg kings died out in 1863, and the elder line of the Schleswig-Holstein family became extinct with the death of the last Augustenburg duke in 1931. Thereafter, the House of Glücksburg became the senior surviving line of the House of Oldenburg. Another cadet line of Oldenburgs, the Dukes of Holstein-Gottorp, consisted of two branches which held onto sovereignty into the 20th century. But members of the Romanov line were executed in or exiled from their Russian Empire in 1917, while the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg was abolished in 1918, although its dynastic line survives.

Neither the Dukes of Beck nor of Glücksburg had been sovereign rulers; they held their lands in fief from the ruling Dukes of Schleswig and Holstein, i.e. the Kings of Denmark and (until 1773) the Dukes of Holstein-Gottorp.

Christian IX, King of Denmark.

Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, the fourth son of Duke Friedrich of Glücksburg, was recognized in the London Protocol of 1852 as successor to the childless King Frederik VII of Denmark. He became King of Denmark as Christian IX on November 15, 1863.

Christian IX’s older brother inherited formal headship of the family as Karl, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. It is his descendants who now represent the senior line of the Schleswig-Holstein branch of the House of Oldenburg.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Harald V of Norway, King Constantine II of Greece, Queen Sofía of Spain and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (and his eldest son and heir to the British throne Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge) are patrilineal members of cadet branches of the Glücksburg dynasty, via their descent from Christian IX of Denmark.


Prince Julius of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (younger brother Christian IX of Denmark).