The popular monarch of Denmark, Queen Margrethe IIhas apologized for upsetting her family members with a decision to remove royal titles by four of her grandchildren, but she refused to change her mind.
Last week, the royal palace of Europe’s oldest royal monarchy announced that as of January 1, the four children of Margrethe’s youngest son, Prince Joachim, would no longer be called prince or princess, but instead count or countess of Monpezat — the birth title of her late husband, French-born Prince Henrik. They should be addressed as “excellence” and will retain their places in the Danish line of succession.
“It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always evolves with the times. Sometimes, that means difficult decisions have to be made and it will always be difficult to find the right moment,” Margrethe. 82, said in a statement released Monday by the royal household.
“This adjustment … I see as a necessary future protection of the monarchy,” said Europe’s only reigning queen and the continent’s longest-serving monarch. She has not changed her decision.
“I have made my decision as a queen, a mother and a grandmother. But as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which my youngest son and his family feel affected. This makes a big impression and I am sorry for it,” said Margrethe in the statement.
Commenting hours after the announcement from the palace on September 28, a visibly emotional Joachim told the Ekstra Bladet daily in Paris, where he lives and works, that “everyone is very sad”.
“It’s never fun to see your children being abused like that. They’re in a situation they don’t understand,” said Joachim, 53.
The change affects his four children: Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix, Prince Henry and Princess Athena. Asked how the decision had affected his relationship with his mother, Joachim replied: “I don’t think I need to expand here.”
Joachim’s first wife, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, who is the mother of Nikolai and Felix, said they were confused, sad and shocked.
“The children feel ostracized. They can’t understand why their identity is being taken away from them,” Alexandra said.
Joachim has been married to Princess Maria since 2008 and is the mother of the two youngest children, Henrik and Athena.
Margrethe’s youngest son, who since September 2020 has been a defense attaché at the Danish Embassy in Paris, said he was given five days’ notice of the change. He said he was initially presented with a plan in May that would strip children of their titles when they reached the age of 25.
Margrethe’s decision was in line with moves made in various ways by other royal houses in recent years. In 2019, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf announced that the children of his youngest children, Princess Madeleine and Prince Carl Philip, would lose their royal titles. His eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, is heir to the throne, followed by her children. They will retain their titles.
In Denmark, which has a constitutional monarchy, the heir to the throne is Crown Prince Frederik. His eldest son, Prince Christian, is next in line, followed by Frederik’s three youngest children.
The queen, who can trace her lineage back to the Vikings, is known as ‘Daisy’. She became Queen on 14 January 1972, following the death of her father, King Frederick IX.