During Queen Margrethe’s annual New Year’s Eve address two weeks ago, Her Majesty shocked the world by formally announcing that she would relinquish the throne on the 14th of January 2024.
Her sudden abdication means that her eldest son, Frederik, has become Denmark’s first King in 52 years, with his Australian-born wife Mary becoming the new Queen Consort. He will be known as King Frederik X.
Documents have revealed that the new King and Queen were only notified of Queen Margrethe’s wishes three days before the news was released.
Queen Margrethe, affectionately known as Daisy, was made Queen of Denmark following the sudden death of her father, King Frederik IX, in 1972. After the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, Margrethe became Europe’s longest-reigning monarch and the world’s only remaining Queen Regnant.
‘Now is the right time.’
In her speech on NYE, Queen Margrethe said: “In February this year I underwent extensive back surgery… Of course, the operation also gave rise to thinking about the future—whether the time had come to leave the responsibility to the next generation. I have decided that now is the right time.”
There is speculation among some commentators that her abdication had been considered for some years, as she was seen to be tying up loose ends with regard to titles.
In 2022, Queen Margrethe made the controversial decision to remove the titles of her youngest son and his children to modernise and slim down the monarchy. She also sought to remove the burden and pressure of the monarchy from those unlikely to become king or queen.
It was a move that sparked fury within the family, with Prince Joachim and his wife both publically declaring their disappointment.
80% Approval Ratings
King Frederik has become the new monarch at a time when the Danish Royal Family enjoys 80% approval ratings, a stark contrast to the 42% when Margrethe ascended the throne.
Queen Margrethe’s reign was very successful, and she was a well-liked figure both internationally and in Denmark. It is a position that her son hopes to mirror. In his first speech after becoming King, Frederik said: ‘My hope is to become a unifying king of tomorrow.’
As she signed the abdication declaration at 2 pm local time, Margrethe’s parting words as the ruling Queen were ‘God Save The King,’ before leaving the room.
Thousands had gathered outside of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, hoping to get the first glimpse of the new King. Fans were left delighted as the King and Queen appeared on the balcony alongside their four children – Crown Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.
The family were greeted by loud cheers and a cannon salute, with King Frederik appearing to look teary-eyed at times.
As is tradition in Denmark for a new monarch, King Frederik has created a motto to guide his reign: ‘United, committed, for the kingdom of Denmark.’ It is the first motto not to mention God in more than 150 years.
Unlike the United Kingdom, Denmark does not have a formal coronation ceremony. However, today the Royal Family will attend a celebratory session of Parliament and a special church service on Sunday the 21st.
Monarchs from around the world have shared messages of support. King Charles III said in a statement: ‘I look forward to working with you on ensuring that the enduring bond between our countries, and our families, remains strong,’ before paying tribute to Queen Margrethe.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden also conveyed his admiration to the former Monarch: ‘Your Majesty, dear Cousin Daisy! When you step down today from your high office as Queen of Denmark, I want to say a warm thank you for the good cooperation over the years.’
Despite handing over the reins to the younger generation, Margrethe will still be known as Her Majesty Queen Margrethe. It is the first time since 2000 that Denmark has had two Queens, the previous being Margrethe and her mother, Queen Ingrid.
Photo credit: Martin Meissner/AP
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