On my continuing investigation into the aesthetics of rollators I was told about the Danish Queen Ingrid. After falling and breaking her hip, she appeared in the summer of 1998 for the first time publically using a rollator. Photographs and news footage of her shows her dressed in a glamorous couture gown and pushing a matching coloured rollator. Going to a gala wearing her prom dress and matching rollator and proudly escorted by her grandson Prince Frederik became a powerful image that encouraged others not to be ashamed of their rollators.

Determined to draw this culturally and historically important artifact I found that there was an exhibition about Queen Ingrid’s life at the Amalienborg Museum.

In the final room many of Queen Ingrid’s clothes were on display and in a long glass display cabinet that filled the entire wall of one room was her famous prom dress and there, peeking out shyly from behind the dress that lumpy, squat rollator lurked.

The accompanying sign reads:

“Rollator. With advanced age Queen Ingrid experienced difficulty in walking. In 1998 she attended a public event for the first time with a rollator-a wheeled walking frame. This had great significance for elderly people in the country, who then, with Queen Ingrid as role model, no longer felt that it was embarrassing to use a rollator”

I was slightly disappointed to find that the rollator was partially hidden as though embarrassed of being on display.

I wrote to ask for permission to draw it and was informed that this was not in fact the Queen’s rollator but an exact replica. In further conversations all was explained. This is not the actual one used by Queen Ingrid because, as happens in the case of every Danish citizen, when she died the original rollator was returned to the commune and once more became the property of the health service. No one will ever know if they are using the same rollator as the Queen Mother once used. The one on display is the same model manufactured at the same time and representative of the one she used. It is an Opal Futura 450 made by Dolomite and manufactured in early 1997 so was an up to the minute model when used by Queen Ingrid. Importantly the colour, which is mint, was not made to match her dress. The material for the dress was found to match the rollator.

The staff at the Amalienborg museum were incredibly helpful. Every morning I would arrive just after 8am and the rollator was carefully removed from its case and placed in the middle of the room for me. I was then left to draw until 11am when the museum opened.

Queen Ingrid’s rollator is not ‘special’, it was not specially designed or commissioned or bespoke made to royal requirements. She used the same rollator as anyone else but chose a bright mint coloured one. And like other users, she probably felt it was ‘her’ rollator and relied on it in the same way as any other user would.

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