In the shadow of the pandemic, the Danish queen celebrates 50 years on the throne
Denmark’s Queen Margrethe celebrated 50 years on the throne of Europe’s oldest ruling monarchy on Friday, with some of the planned festivities postponed until September due to the pandemic.
The outbreak, which also interrupted public celebrations of the popular monarch’s 80th birthday in 2020, forced several guests to stay away from the two-day celebrations. They included Margrethe’s younger sister, former Queen Anne-Marie of Greece whose husband tested positive for COVID-19. The Greek monarchy was abolished in the 1970s.
Flanked by her other sister, Princess Benedikte, her two sons – including Crown Prince Frederik, the heir to the throne – and their wives, Margrethe laid a wreath at her parents’ grave at Roskilde Cathedral in west of Copenhagen, where the Danish royal family have been buried since 1559. She also met the government and attended a reception in Parliament.
“You are a moral compass,” Henrik Dam Kristensen, Speaker of the Danish Parliament, said in a speech. He noted that Margrethe is the first queen of Denmark since her namesake Queen Margrethe I, who reigned from 1375 to 1412.
While Friday’s part of the celebrations have been maintained, Jubilee events scheduled for Saturday have been postponed, including Margrethe cheered by thousands from the balcony of Copenhagen’s Amalienborg Palace, a ride through the capital in a horse-drawn carriage , a gala performance at the Royal Theater and a festive banquet.
On January 14, 1972, her father, King Frederik IX, died after a short illness. The following day, a red-eyed 31-year-old Margrethe stood on the balcony of Christiansborg town center castle and was officially proclaimed queen in front of a crowd of thousands.
Throughout her reign, the Queen traveled the kingdom and made numerous visits abroad. Last year, she visited the Danish autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland. She also traveled to Berlin for the centenary of the 1920 reunification with Denmark of the southern part of the Jutland peninsula which had been under German rule.
When she has a break from official duties, Margrethe – the second longest reigning monarch in Europe after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II – paints, draws, illustrates books, creates church textiles and embroiders. She also created costumes and sets for several ballets in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s downtown amusement park. Born on April 16, 1940, a week after Nazi Germany began occupying Denmark during World War II, the little princess became a beacon of hope for many Danes during the war years. It took a vote to make her queen, however. In 1953, the Danish Constitution was amended following a referendum in which more than 85% of the participants voted in favor of female succession.
Speaking at the parliament event on Friday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said allowing Margrethe to become queen “was a great choice”. Previously, the Danish throne had only been descended through the male line, but the rise of feminism and the fact that Frederik and the Swedish-born Queen Ingrid had three daughters but no sons had swayed public opinion. The Danish constitution grants Margrethe no real political power, but she clearly knows the law and knows the contents of the laws she is called upon to sign.
“My main and most important task is to be Queen of Denmark and head of state,” she said in a recent TV interview. “But I’m grateful to be able to express myself artistically as well.” One of his latest projects is collages for a film by Danish Oscar-winning director Bille August, which adapts a story about a fairytale kingdom. The film is expected in 2023.
Her popularity has increased in part due to her outspokenness in her annual New Year’s Eve televised speeches, where she spoke about being less “selfish”, integrating strangers and fighting loneliness. In 2014, 82% of respondents to a poll opposed the abolition of the monarchy.
Ten years ago, celebrating her 40th anniversary on the throne, Margrethe reflected on her role and the future of the Danish monarchy saying, “You don’t work to keep a job, you work to keep your country”, ” You give your life to your country,” she said. Margrethe has repeatedly rejected the suggestion that she should abdicate in favor of her 52-year-old son, Crown Prince Frederik.
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