All eyes were on Denmark as Queen Margrethe officially abdicated on Sunday after 52 years on the throne, passing the crown and the throne to her elder son, King Frederik X, and his wife Queen Mary.
And while Margrethe’s announcement in her New Year’s Day speech came as a total shock to the Danish people and royal watchers around the world, it was a “very pragmatic” decision from the no-nonsense monarch, says royal author and Editor-at-Large of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Juliet Rieden.
“It definitely came out of the blue,” Juliet said. “But I think she’s a very pragmatic Queen. She saw the popularity of Frederik and Mary. She saw the vitality that they could give to the monarchy moving forward. And their eldest son Crown Prince Christian has just turned 18 and is clearly very serious about the role of heir. So, everything is in place.
“Margrethe will, of course, still be there guiding them all. But I think she had in her mind that Frederik and Mary were ready to take the throne, and Mary gave stability to the possibility of Frederik becoming king early.”
Juliet continued: “The Danish royal family is probably the most popular monarchy around the world, and Mary’s part in that has been instrumental. I think for Denmark, it’s an incredible gift to have her and I think they know that.”
Queen Margrethe had always publicly said that she would reign for as long as she could. In 2012, on her 40th anniversary as Queen, she famously said: “I will remain on the throne until I drop.”
But in February of last year, the Danish monarch underwent “extensive” back surgery which required a long recovery, during which time her son Frederik took over her royal duties. And in her abdication announcement, she alluded to her surgery influencing her decision to step down.
Queen Mary seen behind-the-scenes as Frederik is proclaimed King: On Sunday, in a historic day for the royal family, Margrethe signed the formal declaration ending her 52-year reign at 2pm local time. Teary-eyed, she then stood up from her chair and declared: “God Save The King!”
Her son Frederik 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.
The new king was joined by his wife, Queen Mary, and the couple’s four children: Crown Prince Christian, the new Danish heir, Princess Isabella, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.