Queen Margrethe II: 50 years at the head of the Danish monarchy

On January 14, 1972, Margrethe II succeeded his father on the throne. In 50 years she has walked Denmark through good times and bad – and has lived a lot and had to endure a lot herself. About a regent who ruled a country in a slightly different way.

“It’s hard for me to understand where those many years have gone. I think it happened so quickly.” Queen Margrethe II of Denmark referred to the last 50 years of her reign in her New Years address on New Year’s Eve. On January 14, 1972, at the age of 31, she succeeded the late King Frederik IX to the throne. , still in mourning for his father. Much has changed in this half century. “But not the love for my neighbors. And not my love for this country.”

Indeed, the Golden Jubilee must be duly celebrated over several days. But the corona pandemic also throws a thick line on the bill here. But the virus “is not getting permission to determine,” the 81-year-old said. “The celebrations come when the time is right, later in the year,” she promises her people. He should be so far at the end of the summer.

The line of succession had to be changed for Margrethe

For Danes, the Queen, birthday celebrations and the royal family are of extraordinary importance. This is sometimes foreign to the Germans and seems old-fashioned. Jakob Steen Olsen, expert in nobility at the Danish newspaper “Berlingske”, explains this back: “When you have a queen who has ancestors for a thousand years, it is also a constant in society. In this way, the royal family is a kind of historical anchor for the Danish people, a gathering point that sends people back to Danish history and who we are and where we come from. “

On April 16, 1940, the future Queen of Denmark was born under the name of Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid. At the time, however, she was not allowed to become queen. The law of succession, according to which there could only be male heirs to the throne, had not yet been changed. On March 27, 1953, a legal reform opened the way for him. In 2009, full equality of succession was established. This means that the eldest of the regent’s children – regardless of sex – inherits the throne, as is already the case in several other European monarchies.

In October 1966, the then Crown Princess and Henri Marie Jean André Graf von Laborde de Monpezat announced their engagement. As she revealed in the book “Enegænger”, Henri was the first man with whom she had a real “date”. The marriage followed on June 10, 1967. The Earl became Prince Henrik. The couple had two children: Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

The husband causes trouble

Prince Consort Henrik, however, has caused a stir at one point or another. He never hid his frustration at never having been made king. He felt “degraded” in third place, behind his own son. In 2002, he therefore retired to France for a “reflection break”. But in the end Margrethe was able to avoid the crisis. His vision of education also caused a sensation: “Children are like dogs and horses. You have to train them, ”he once said.

Returning trainer for his father’s “dressage” slogan, Prince Frederik said at his parents’ silver wedding in 1992: “Dad, they say you chastise those you love. We never doubted your love! Sometimes it was overwhelming. “

At the end of 2015, Margrethe announced the withdrawal of her husband from his official duties. Her beloved husband passed away in February 2018 at the age of 83 after being diagnosed with dementia and lung disease.

Monarch of Denmark: 50 years without scandal at the head of the oldest monarchy in Europe: Queen Margrethe II.

Frederik’s statements about his parents’ education also sparked another minor crisis. In 2009, he told the US magazine “Parade” that he had virtually nothing to do with his parents until his 21st birthday. He was raised by nannies. Frederik has complained about a loveless childhood at one point or another in the past. In retrospect, Margrethe admitted that she saw herself as an absent, impatient and generally inadequate mother who couldn’t do much with young children. Today, the relationship between Margrethe and her children is much better.

The Danish royal family without scandal

However, larger scandals, such as in Britain (“Megxit”, Prince Andrew, Charles, Diana and Camilla) or Spain (Juan Carlos and alleged money laundering), did not materialize in Denmark. Margrethe II made sure of this through her conscientious attitude, which she also passed on to the younger generations.

“She understood that a very particular destiny rests on her shoulders. This means that it is above all a duty that she must respect. This sense of duty is deeply rooted in her, she has it in everything. what she did did, “Olsen said.

What some people might see with a critical eye: Margrethe is a passionate smoker who tends to cause a sensation, especially abroad. The Danes have always known the mother of their country who smokes – but that doesn’t detract from their popularity. In 1957, she lit a cigarette for the first time, as revealed in the new biography “Unterwegs” by Tom Buk-Swienty. They brought it to their parents, of all people. “My mom and dad smoked when I was growing up and one day they asked me if I wanted a cigarette.” Since 2006, however, Margrethe has refrained from lighting a cigarette in public.

Here, in November 1999, Margrethe let Victor Borge fire her to New York.

Even at an advanced age, Margrethe does not want to give up her cigarettes. Here, in November 1999, she was set on fire in New York by the Danish-American pianist and actor Victor Borge.

© Band Photo / / Photo Alliance

Margrethe, the artist

Even if Margrethe II as head of state in his rather representative role does not actually express any political opinion in the constitutional monarchy, it sometimes appears as a warning. In 1984, she berated her compatriots for “stupid comments” and “coldness” towards immigrants. When Denmark won the European Football Championship in 1992, she warned in her New Year’s speech that such a victory also carried the risk of division nationalism. In her last New Years speech, she spoke about the corona pandemic and climate change. However, it is common for the government to ask them to include certain hot topics in their speeches.

Despite her 81 years, Margrethe is still very active and makes many trips abroad, as in November last year in Germany. A particular passion: art. Since 1970, the Queen has engaged in many forms of artistic expression, including painting, watercolor, graphic design, book illustration and embroidery. Most of these works are exhibited in museums in Denmark and abroad. He has designed costumes and sets for numerous plays and television series. She even illustrated a 2002 remake of the classic “Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien.

For the country mother, art is something they immerse themselves in and where they can be themselves, something to relax in, says Olsen. “But it’s also something that gives her respect and personality, which the Danes love very much. It’s something we’re proud of. Others aren’t. That’s how we find our special queen. . “

A national mother close to the people

With his reliable, pragmatic and sometimes unconventional manner, Margrethe II made the Danish monarchy more modern. “She understood that a royal family loses its relevance if you don’t feel it fits its time. It has to change when we change. The Queen has mainly opened up the royal family more than it once was. “, explains Olsen. She has come closer to her people – and that’s how people see her.

Nevertheless, there must be some distance, according to the expert, who likens this balance to a butterfly: “If you touch the wings, the dust of the butterfly disappears and it can no longer fly. There must be some form of mysticism surrounding the royal family. “The Queen has made it very clear that she is Sovereign, something special.”

This is one of the reasons why it continues to enjoy great popularity among the people. “I think if we now introduce the republic and there are presidential elections in Denmark, Margrethe would still be elected president,” Olsen is certain. “The Danes saw her as a queen who took care of her job and worked hard. She understood that you can’t just sit in your castle. You have to go out into the country and see it with your own eyes and meet the Danes. “The combination of closeness to people and a sense of duty makes the royal family in Denmark even more popular than anywhere else,” says Olsen.

Will Margrethe II abdicate?

Her popularity was shown on her 80th birthday. Due to the corona pandemic, she couldn’t celebrate big. Yet thousands of Danes sang their monarch at home, in the park, at school. “It goes straight to the heart,” said an affected Margrethe. Your people will surely find something for their Golden Jubilee on the throne.

And what will the future of the monarch look like? It is certain that Frederik will succeed him one day on the throne. Will the mother abdicate for the son? Olsen doesn’t think so. “I’m quite sure the Queen is serious if she refuses to abdicate.”

He cares little about the future King Frederik. “Frederik is a completely different type to her. He said he is not as domestic as his mother. He’s more athletic. And because he’s a man, he’s not compared to his mother. “He’s got the big thing. The good thing is that the Danes love him madly. They experience him as a nice man who can talk to everyone.”

with material from DPA and AFP

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