Mary of Denmark: Frederick X will accede to the Danish throne with the challenge of maintaining the monarchy’s popular appeal | International

The Kingdom of Denmark, a Scandinavian country of nearly 6 million inhabitants which includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, in the Atlantic, is inaugurating a new monarchical era. After 52 years on the throne, Queen Margaret II hands over the crown this Sunday to her eldest son, who will be proclaimed Frederick X in Copenhagen. The announcement of the abdication of the 83-year-old monarch on December 31 caused great surprise in all sectors of the nation. His own family found out a few days ago. The Queen is very popular and has managed to maintain her own personality without disappearing behind the position she has held for half a century. The new monarch, aged 55, faces the challenge of maintaining his characteristic affluence without compromising the dignity of the monarchy.

“Federico loves sports and pop music and has had more freedom to pursue his hobbies. The question is whether all this is enough and worthy of a king,” Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, a historian and royal household expert at the University of Copenhagen, explains by telephone. The queen has greater intellectual interests than her son, “and so far they have been a good combination of closeness and seriousness.” “Now he will have to rise to the occasion himself, because as king, people expect something more than a strategy of proximity and normality.”

Prince Frédéric André Henrik Christian received his primary education in Copenhagen and was interned in France, the native country of his father, the late Prince Henri. He studied political science at the Danish University of Aarhus and spent a year at Harvard University in the United States. During this stay, he worked within the Danish delegation to the UN in 1994, where he was also able to use his knowledge of French, English and German. In 1998, he served as first secretary at his country’s embassy in France. He went through the three army academies (land, sea and air) and participated in the marathons in Copenhagen, Paris and New York. His great love for sport led him to the social field and, in 2018, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, he launched the Royal Race: a competition that brings together more than 80,000 annual participants. His former love of partying and his relative ease in addressing the public are well known. Today, he says he feels comfortable with his destiny. And Princess Mary, Frederick’s wife and queen consort in a few hours? “It’s also very popular. And while there has been friction in the past between her and Margarita II, it has not influenced their duties. “Both are great professionals,” specifies the historian.

Having barely overcome the surprise of the abdication, the royal family and the government of the social-democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made a real sprint to prepare in 14 days the proclamation of Frederick UK. . This is closer to the enthronement of King William of the Netherlands, who succeeded his mother, now Princess Beatrice, in 2013. “Over the past 150 years, Danish kings have simply been proclaimed since the balcony of Parliament after taking the oath – or signing – the Constitution. A short and sober ceremony,” recalls the same expert. “The last coronation took place in 1648 in the medieval European style, similar to what we saw in London with Charles III.” According to him, the British tradition is reasonable because it has not been broken over time. “Even if you don’t identify with it, monarchs have been crowned like this in the United Kingdom, with great fanfare, without interruption.” In Denmark, on the other hand, “this would amount to reintroducing a medieval ritual, which makes no sense in a modern society”.


The Crown accounts, a potentially thorny issue even in Denmark, where polls show only 15% Republican sentiment, are a recurring source of discussion. This year, the Queen and the royal family (Princes Frederick and his brother Joachim, as well as Princesses Mary and Benedicta) received a total of 121 million Danish crowns, or around 16 million euros. The Royal House knows that we are talking about the cost of the monarchy, which is why, in the future, only Prince Christian (18 years old), Frederick’s eldest son, will receive an allowance. This is not the case for his three brothers and sisters, Isabella (16 years old) and the twins Vincent and Joséphine (13 years old). Even if they continue to be princes, they will have to look for a professional outlet. Prince Joachim resides in the United States with his family and is a Defense Industry Attaché at the Danish Embassy. It remains to be seen whether he keeps his share of the official sum he now receives. This is a calculation that must be reviewed by Parliament along with the rest of the official funds allocated to the Crown. He will attend the proclamation, while his wife, Marie, will remain in Washington with their children.

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Margaret II is the eldest daughter of Frederick IX of Denmark and Ingrid of Sweden. As she has no male brothers, it required a referendum and the approval of a constitutional amendment to allow women to rule. Frederick came to the throne with much less institutional upheaval. The monarchy was popular when his mother was proclaimed on January 14, 1972, upon the death of his father. Over time, the mother, who will retain the title of queen after the abdication, has increased her appeal. She managed to be “not only the queen, but herself,” says Olden-Jørgensen. And this is something that other monarchs have not achieved to the same extent. “Think of the British Queen Elizabeth II. “He identified himself completely with his task, which he executed perfectly, and almost disappeared as a person.”

The historian attributes part of the monarchical good health to luck. “In the Danish royal family, there have been no tragedies like that of Diana of Wales, nor disasters like that of Meghan Markle, the wife of Prince Henry of England,” he says. Yes, a crisis broke out, which still continues, due to the withdrawal of the princely titles of the four sons of Prince Joaquín. The explanation put forward is that these grandchildren, Nicolas (24 years old), Félix (21 years old), Henrik (14 years old) and Athena (11 years old), should be free to shape their lives. The system did not convince that part of the family that was hurt.

The current Danish dynasty belongs to the House of Glücksburg, which is a branch of the Royal House of Oldenburg, both of which originated in Germany. Its members have occupied the throne since 1863. A year later, Denmark lost the so-called war of the duchies which opposed it to the Austrian Empire and Prussia. The Danes had to abandon Schleswig, Holstein and Saxony Lauenburg, annexed by the two other powers, which marked what the monarchy would henceforth be.

“Of course, it’s much older. But the recent history of the monarchy and Denmark as a state begins with the disastrous war of 1864,” explains Olden-Jørgensen. According to him, the current is the expression of this recent past and not of an imperial memory, despite the existence of Danish colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and India. “After 1864, Denmark was a small power and there was no monarchical political agenda; “That’s its strength,” he continues. “The monarchies that succeeded in Europe, those that remained, are those that distanced themselves from everyday politics. With a few exceptions, such as in Spain, where it has sometimes played a more political role,” he explains. In Denmark, “it is free to act in the cultural and social field”.

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