Margrethe II of Denmark

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Margrethe II
Drottning Margrethe av Danmark.jpg
Margrethe II in 2012
Queen of Denmark
Reign 14 January 1972 – present
Predecessor Frederick IX
Heir apparent Crown Prince Frederik
Prime Ministers See list for:
Spouse Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark (1967–present)
Crown Prince Frederik
Prince Joachim
Full name
Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid
House House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg[1] (official)
House of Monpezat
(by marriage)
Father Frederick IX
Mother Ingrid of Sweden
Born (1940-04-16) 16 April 1940 (age 74)
Amalienborg Palace, Denmark
Religion Church of Denmark

Margrethe II (Danish pronunciation: [mɑˈɡ̊ʁæːˀd̥ə], full name: Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid; born 16 April 1940) is the queen regnant of Denmark. As the eldest child of King Frederik IX and Ingrid of Sweden, she succeeded her father upon his death on 14 January 1972. On her accession, she became the first female monarch of Denmark since Margrethe I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375–1412 during the Kalmar Union.

Margrethe was born in 1940, but did not become heiress presumptive until 1953, when a constitutional amendment allowed women to inherit the throne (after it became clear that King Frederick was unlikely to have any male issue). In 1967, she married Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, with whom she has two sons: Crown Prince Frederik (born 1968) and Prince Joachim (born 1969).

Early life[edit]

Princess Margrethe was born on 16 April 1940 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen as the first child of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. Her father was the eldest son of King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, and her mother was the only daughter of Crown Prince Gustav Adolf and Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden. Her birth took place just one week after Nazi Germany's invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940.

She was baptised on 14 May 1940 in the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen. The princess's godparents were: her paternal grandfather, King Christian X of Denmark; her paternal uncle, Prince Knud of Denmark; her cousin, Prince Axel of Denmark; her maternal great-grandfather, King Gustaf V of Sweden: her maternal grandfather, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden; her maternal uncle, Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden; and her maternal great-grandfather, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.

She was named Margrethe after her maternal grandmother, Alexandrine after her paternal grandmother, and Ingrid after her mother. Since her paternal grandfather, the then-reigning King Christian X, was also the King of Iceland, and Margrethe until 1944 was an Icelandic princess, the Princess was as a tribute to the people of Iceland given an Icelandic name, Þórhildur (Thorhildur).[2]

When Margrethe was four years old, in 1944, her first sister Princess Benedikte was born. Princess Benedikte later married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and lives some of the time in Germany. Her second sister Princess Anne Marie was born in 1946. Anne-Marie later married Constantine II of Greece and now lives in London.

On 20 April 1947, King Christian X died and Margrethe's father ascended the throne as King Frederik IX.

Heiress presumptive[edit]

The then Princess Margrethe with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Cairo, 1962.

At the time of her birth, only males could ascend the throne of Denmark, owing to the changes in succession laws enacted in the 1850s when the Glücksburg branch was chosen to succeed. As she had no brothers, it was assumed that her uncle Prince Knud would one day assume the throne.

The process of changing the constitution started in 1947, not long after her father ascended the throne and it became clear that Queen Ingrid would have no more children. The popularity of Frederik and his daughters and the more prominent role of women in Danish life started the complicated process of altering the constitution. That proposal had to be passed by two Parliaments in succession and then by a referendum, which was held on 27 March 1953. The new Act of Succession permitted female succession to the throne of Denmark, according to male-preference cognatic primogeniture, where a female can ascend to the throne only if she does not have a brother. Princess Margrethe therefore became heiress presumptive.

On her eighteenth birthday, 16 April 1958, Margrethe was given a seat in the Council of State. She subsequently chaired the meetings of the Council in the absence of the King.

In mid-1960, together with the princesses of Sweden and Norway, she travelled to the United States, which included a visit to Los Angeles, California, and to the Paramount Studios, where they were met by several celebrities, including Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley.


Margrethe spent a year at North Foreland Lodge, a boarding school for girls in Hampshire, England,[3] and later studied prehistoric archaeology at Girton College, Cambridge, during 1960–1961, political science at Aarhus University between 1961 and 1962, attended the Sorbonne in 1963, and was at the London School of Economics in 1965. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Queen Margrethe is fluent in Danish, French, English, Swedish and German.[4]


Queen Margrethe II and her consort, Prince Henrik, in 2010.

On 10 June 1967, Princess Margrethe married a French diplomat, Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, at the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen. Laborde de Monpezat received the style and title of "His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark" because of his new position as the spouse of the heiress presumptive to the Danish throne.

Margrethe gave birth to her first child on 26 May 1968. By tradition, the Danish king was alternately named either Frederik or Christian. She chose to maintain this by assuming the position of a Christian, and thus named her eldest son Frederik. A second child, named Joachim, was born on 7 June 1969.


Margrethe II of Denmark in a costume of the Faroese people. Stamp FR 302 of Postverk Føroya, Faroe Islands, issued 14 January 1997.


Shortly after King Frederik IX had delivered his New Year's Address to the Nation at the 1971/72 turn of the year, he fell ill. At his death 14 days later on 14 January 1972, Margrethe succeeded to the throne, becoming the first female Danish sovereign under the new Act of Succession. She was proclaimed queen from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace by Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag on 15 January 1972. Queen Margrethe II relinquished all the monarch's former titles except the title to Denmark, hence her style By the Grace of God, Queen of Denmark (Danish:Margrethe den Anden, af Guds Nåde Danmarks Dronning). The Queen chose the motto: God's help, the love of The People, Denmark's strength.[4]

In her first address to the people, Queen Margrethe II said:

"My beloved father, our King, is dead. The task that my father had carried for nearly 25 years is now resting on my shoulders. I pray to God to give me help and strength to carry the heavy heritage. May the trust that was given to my father also be granted to me."[5]

Constitutional role[edit]

The Queen's main tasks are to represent the Kingdom abroad and to be a unifying figurehead at home. She receives foreign ambassadors and awards honours and medals. The queen performs the latter task by accepting invitations to open exhibitions, attending anniversaries, inaugurating bridges, etc.

As an unelected public official, the Queen takes no part in party politics and does not express any political opinions. Although she has the right to vote, she opts not to do so to avoid even the appearance of partisanship.

After an election where the incumbent Prime Minister does not have a majority behind him or her, the Queen holds a “Dronningerunde” (Queen's meeting) in which she meets the chairmen of each of the Danish political parties.[6]

Each party has the choice of selecting a Royal Investigator to lead these negotiations or alternatively, give the incumbent Prime Minister the mandate to continue his government as is. In theory each party could choose its own leader as Royal Investigator, the social liberal Det Radikale Venstre did so in 2006, but often only one Royal Investigator is chosen plus the Prime Minister, before each election. The leader who, at that meeting succeeds in securing a majority of the seats in the Folketing, is by royal decree charged with the task of forming a new government. (It has never happened in more modern history that any party has held a majority on its own.)

Once the government has been formed, it is formally appointed by the Queen. Officially, it is the Queen who is the head of government, and she therefore presides over the Council of State, where the acts of legislation which have been passed by the parliament are signed into law. In practice, however, nearly all of the Queen's formal powers are exercised by the Council of State, and she is required by convention to act on its advice.

In addition to her roles in her own country, the queen is also the Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires), an infantry regiment of the British Army, following a tradition in her family.

Ruby Jubilee[edit]

On 14 January 2012, Queen Margrethe II celebrated her Ruby Jubilee, the 40th year on the throne.[7] This was marked by a carriage procession, and numerous TV interviews.

Personal life and interests[edit]

The official residences of the Queen and the Prince Consort are Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen and Fredensborg Palace. Their summer residence is Gråsten Palace near Sønderborg, the former home of the Queen's mother, Queen Ingrid, who died in 2000.

Margrethe is an accomplished painter, and has held many art shows over the years.[8] Her illustrations—under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer—were used for the Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings, which she was encouraged to illustrate in the early 1970s. She sent them to J.R.R. Tolkien who was struck by the similarity of her drawings to his own style. Margrethe's drawings were redrawn by the British artist Eric Fraser in the translation published in 1977 and re-issued in 2002.[9] In 2000, she illustrated Henrik, the Prince Consort's poetry collection Cantabile. She is also an accomplished translator and is said to have participated in the Danish translation of The Lord of the Rings.[8] Another skill she possesses is costume designing, having designed the costumes for the Royal Danish Ballet's production of A Folk Tale and for the 2009 Peter Flinth film, "De vilde svaner" (the Wild Swans).[10] She also designs her own clothes and is known for her colourful and sometimes eccentric clothing choices. Margrethe also wears designs by Pierre Balmain's former designer Erik Mortensen, Jørgen Bender, and Birgitte Taulow.[11] She was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013. [12]

Margrethe is a chain smoker, and she is famous for her tobacco habit.[13] However, on 23 November 2006 the Danish newspaper B.T. reported an announcement from the Royal Court stating that in future the Queen would smoke only in private.[14]

A statement in a 2005 authorized biography about the Queen (entitled Margrethe) focused on her views of Islam: "We are being challenged by Islam these years. Globally as well as locally. There is something impressive about people for whom religion imbues their existence, from dusk to dawn, from cradle to grave. There are also Christians who feel this way. There is something endearing about people who give themselves up completely to their faith. But there is likewise something frightening about such a totality, which also is a feature of Islam. A counterbalance has to be found, and one has to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on you. For there are some things for which one should display no tolerance. And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction."[15]


Her Majesty surrounded by her family waving to crowds on her 70th birthday in April 2010. From left to right: the Crown Princess, Prince Felix, the Crown Prince, Prince Christian, the Queen, Prince Nikolai, the Prince Consort, Prince Joachim and Princess Isabella

The Queen and The Prince Consort have two children and eight grandchildren:

In 2008 the Queen announced that her male-line descendants would bear the additional title of Count of Monpezat, in recognition of her husband's claim to the comital title.[16]

Honours and decorations[edit]

Queen Margrethe II in Vágur, Faroe Islands, 21 June 2005
Queen Margrethe II and her husband the Prince Consort welcome President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush at Fredensborg Palace, July 5, 2005.

See also : List of honours of the Danish Royal Family by country

She is the 1,188th Dame of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain, and the 961st Knight/Lady of the Order of the Garter and Colonel-in-Chief of the The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires) in United Kingdom.

Danish decorations[edit]

  • Denmark Order of the Elephant
  • Denmark Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog
  • Denmark One hundred anniversary Commemorative Medal of King Frederik IX's birth
  • Denmark One hundred anniversary Commemorative Medal of King Christian X's birth
  • Denmark Queen Ingrid's Commemorative Medal
  • Denmark Commemorative Medal for the 50-year anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Ingrid's arrival in Denmark
  • Denmark Home Guard fortjensttegn
  • Denmark Home Guard 25-year mark
  • Denmark Civil Defense League glory sign
  • Denmark Danish Reserve Officers Association Medal

Greenlandic decorations[edit]

Foreign decorations[edit]

Symbols of Margrethe II[edit]


Patrilineal descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maclagan, M & Louda, J., Lines of Succession, London, Orbis Publishing, 1981 Tables 20 and 22
  2. ^ "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  3. ^ The Illustrated London News, vol. 227, Issue 2 (1955), p. 552
  4. ^ a b "The Danish Monarchy". Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "radical royalist: January 2012". 13 January 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Bysted A/S. "The Monarchy today – The Danish Monarchy". Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  7. ^ "Queen Margrethe II of Denmark marks 40 years on the throne". BBC News (Denmark). 12 January 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Margrethe and Henrik Biography". 1940-04-16. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  9. ^ The Danish Monarchy Website – Queen's fact page[dead link]
  10. ^
  11. ^ "The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor: Flashback Friday: Queen Margrethe's Style". 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  12. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess; Mirren, Helen; Huffington, Arianna; Amos, Valerie (28 March 2013). "The 50 best-dressed over 50s". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ "BBC News". BBC News. 2001-03-23. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  14. ^[dead link]
  15. ^ Cleaver, Hannah (15 April 2005). "We need a counter-balance to Islam, says Danish queen". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  16. ^ "Monpezat til Frederik og Joachim". Berlingske Tidende. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  17. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 168. Retrieved November 2012. 
  18. ^ Photos : Albert II & Margrethe II, Group photo
  19. ^ Icelandese Presidency Website , Margrethe
  20. ^ Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  21. ^ Official decree, 13/02/2008
  22. ^ Photo of the Danish Royal couple with the Slovakian Presidential couple
  23. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  24. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  25. ^ Gettyimages
  26. ^ Ruby Jubilee in Sweden
  27. ^ Noblesse et Royautes

External links[edit]

Margrethe II
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 16 April 1940
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick IX
Queen of Denmark
Heir apparent:
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Countess Kajsa Bernadotte
Line of succession to the British throne
descended from Arthur, son of Victoria
Succeeded by
The Crown Prince of Denmark