Queen Margrethe II abdicated on Sunday in a historic day for the Danish royal family, the first time the country’s monarch has voluntarily stood down from the throne in almost 900 years.
After signing the formal declaration ending her 52-year reign at 2pm local time, a teary-eyed Margrethe got up from her chair and declared: “God Save The King!”
Her son then took her place at the table before heading to the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, where he was declared King Frederik X by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. He and his wife Mary will now be known as Their Majesties, The King and Queen of Denmark.
Unlike the British monarchy, there is no formal coronation. Historian Marlene Koenig previously said: “The UK monarchy is unique when it comes to crowning the Sovereign. In its history, Parliament has passed several acts that require the sovereign to have a coronation ceremony after the accession.
“The first Danish coronation was in 1170 and the last in 1840 for King Christian VIII and his second wife, Caroline Amalie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenberg, who succeeded in 1839 and died in 1848. The throne passed to his thrice-married son, Frederik VII, who had no surviving children.”
Queen Margrethe, who has retained her title, prompted widespread shock among royal watchers and the Danish public when she revealed her intention to abdicate during her traditional New Year’s Eve speech.
The new king didn’t have a huge amount of warning, either, as his mother informed him of her decision just three days before the official announcement. A spokesperson from the royal palace confirmed to Danish newspaper Berlingske that the queen let both her sons, then Crown Prince Frederik and his younger brother, Prince Joachim, know about her intention to abdicate on 28 December.
Royal reporter Wim Dehandschutter previously said: “I was very surprised by the announcement of her abdication. I interviewed Queen Margrethe in 2017 and I asked her about voluntary abdication, because we’ve had several in Europe, in the Netherlands, where it’s tradition, and in my country, Belgium, and also in Spain.
“She gave the predictable answer at that time; she told me ‘In this country, we haven’t gone in for that way of handing over. It’s always been you stay for as long as you live and that’s the way I see it too.’ At that moment, I didn’t think it was a special answer because it was in line with expectations, it was believed that Margrethe would remain on the throne until her death.”
In her New Year’s address, Margrethe hinted that her health was one reason she was choosing to step down. She said: “In February  I underwent extensive back surgery. It went well, thanks to the skilled healthcare staff who took care of me. 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.”