An audience with the Queen - behind the scenes

On Monday 12 December, dressed up to the nines, Professor Gert Tinggaard was received in audience by the Queen to thank her for the great honour of being appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.

2017.01.06 | Ingrid Marie Fossum

Professor Gert Tinggaard Svendsen was given the order in recognition of his scientific contribution. Photo: Marie Bacher Svendsen

Gert received the order in the post back in September, and it was fastened to his chest when he turned up for the audience with the Queen on 12 December.

Dressed up to the nines in full evening dress, white shirt with detachable wing collar, bowtie, polished shoes, gloves, no watch, gold cufflinks and with the order fastened to his chest, he turned up plenty of time before the audience with the Queen on 12 December at 10 o’clock.  He received the order in the post back in September. The letter gave him the delightful news that he had been appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.

In the waiting room (at Christiansborg not Amalienborg Palace, as you might think), he gathered with all the others who were also there to thank the queen - for either a medal or an order. The purpose of their visit was registered, and then people were placed in queues in the exact order. The atmosphere was good rather than nervous, and people were talking informally with each other and the staff.

People were received by the queen according to the rank of the order, and just before entering, each person was given instructions as to what would happen inside the room, where the queen would be sitting, and how to behave. Then the door would open, and there, 5 or 6 metres away, was the Queen.

“I bowed at the door and walked up and shook her hand. I had already practised a few sentences with the correct level of formality. You have to say Your Majesty or Your Royal Highness and such. I told her that I was deeply grateful for receiving the Order of Dannebrog and that it was a great honour.”

According to Gert, the Queen looked like herself, just as we know her from TV. She was wearing a shirt and a golden jacket, her hair was up and her glasses on. Before he entered the room, the Queen had been briefed on who he was, and why he had received the order. Gert was given the order in recognition of his scientific contribution, which he was also able to describe to the Queen.

“She was friendly and smiling and seemed interested in hearing about my research. I told her that Denmark is known as a pioneering country, and that the world’s leading political scientists - Fukuyama and Putnam - are talking about “getting to Denmark”. This is because we have the most trust and the least corruption in the world, and here political stability and the monarchy might play a significant role. Denmark is the oldest existing monarchy in the world.”

Gert is unaware of how much time he spent with the Queen. He didn’t notice the time, because he wasn’t wearing his watch. But at a certain point, the Queen rounded of the conversation by thanking him for turning up. Then she put out her hand, and Gert once again thanked her for the Order. He didn’t have to walk backwards when leaving the room as was customary in the old days. Instead he turned around, walked to the door, turned around again and bowed as a farewell greeting.

Now Gert will make sure to wear his Order on the occasions where this is allowed. For example at weddings or other large events. Unfortunately, the department’s Christmas party is not one of these. But he will be wearing the full evening dress.