Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has apologized for stripping four of her grandchildren of their royal titles after a public outcry from family members.
In a statement on Monday, the Queen acknowledged the decision had led to “strong backlash” and said she regretted it, but doubled down on her move to streamline the country’s monarchy.
The Queen announced last week that the titles of her youngest son Prince Joachim’s offspring will be abolished, meaning his four children will no longer be known as princes or princesses, but as counts and countesses of Montbesat from next January and post.
The queen has two sons, the eldest of whom is heir to the throne. Prince Joachim, who is sixth in line, has three sons and a daughter from two marriages. The children are between the ages of 10 and 23.
Margrethe’s half-century reign makes her Europe’s longest-serving monarch since Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died last month.
But the decision, which he said was made as part of an effort to streamline the Danish royal family going forward, did not go down well.
Prince Joachim told Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet last Wednesday that his family was only given five days notice of the announcement, which he said was “unfortunate”. Prince Marie, his wife, described their relationship with the Queen as “complicated”.
“We wish we had time to talk about it,” the princess said in the same interview.
The Queen issued her statement on Monday addressing the backlash and apologizing for the impact of the decision on her son and grandchildren.
“I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which my youngest son and his family feel affected,” the statement read.
“That makes a big impression and I’m sorry about it,” added the Queen.
She added that there should be “no doubt” that her children and grandchildren were her “great pride and joy” and that she hopes “we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation ».
However, the monarch stuck to her guns and argued that the dissolution of the four titles was “necessary” to “protect the future of the monarchy.
“Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in future, will be borne by fewer members of the royal family,” Monday’s statement said.
“My decision has been a long time coming,” he added. “With 50 years on the throne, it is only natural that I look back and look forward. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy is always shaped by the times. Sometimes, that means that difficult decisions must be taken decisions and it will always be difficult to find the right moment.”
Robert Hazell, professor of government and constitution at University College London’s School of Public Policy, said Denmark was a small country of about six million people and “didn’t need a big royal family”.
“It is a liberating decision. These children will now be free to pursue their own lives, without the expectation that they must undertake royal duties.” he told NBC News.
“In each generation, the monarchy must streamline the royal family into a core group that will carry out royal duties, leaving the rest free to pursue their own careers,” he added, describing the decision as “logical and forward-looking.” .
Last week’s announcement is just the latest move by the Queen to cut back on the monarchy and its spending. In May 2016, she announced that Prince Christian, the eldest son of Prince Frederik, her eldest son and heir to the throne, will be the only grandchild to receive an annuity from the state when he comes of age.
The Danish royal family is also not the first European monarchy to take such steps.
The Swedish royal family took similar measures to thin its members in 2019, when King Carl XVI Gustaf stripped five of his grandchildren of their royal titles.
Caroline Radnowski contributed.