On January 28, 1768, Carolina Mathilde, Queen to King Christian VII of Denmark and sixteen years of age, gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The infant was christened Frederik VI in Christianborg Palace in copenhagen, the same place where he was born. Hi godparents were his father, Christian VII, his paternal stepgrandmother, Dowager Empress Juliane Marie, and his half-uncle, Hereditary Prince Frederick.
Frederick VI lived a princely life, and was, in a manner of speaking, pivotal to the deepening of the relationship between his mother and the court physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee.
In 1769, a smallpox epidemic broke out in Denmark and was slowly but surely crawling toward Copenhagen, where the royal family and their court resided. At this period in time, smallpox inoculation was stil considered to be a radical, experimental procedure that posed a great risk of failing. Despite this, Carolina Mathilde pleaded with Streunsee that he inoculate her son to save his life. The doctor complied, and after a harrowing night of unsrety, the crown prince survived the inoculation. From there, the queen’s confidence in the doctor grew.
She began to confide more in Struensee, and discussed Frederik’s growth intellectually with him. The doctor also had a hand in how the young prince was raised, albeit a bit more heavy-handed than usual. For example, Struensee believed that cold was good for a child’s growth, and thus ensured that the crown prince was always sparsely dressed through the savage winter season.
Frederik VI took the throne after his step-uncle, and reinstated many of the forward-thinking reforms the state council had abolished during Streunsee’s fall from power.