Danish queen marks 50 years on the throne

Margrethe is Europe’s second-longest reigning monarch, after the Queen.

Queen Margrethe
Queen Margrethe

Denmark’s popular monarch Queen Margrethe is marking 50 years on the throne with a series of low-key events.

The public celebrations for Friday’s anniversary have been delayed until September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 81-year-old will, however, lay flowers on the grave of her parents at Roskilde cathedral, west of Copenhagen, where Danish royals have been buried since 1559.

Earlier in the day, she will meet the government and attend a reception at parliament.

Margrethe is popular with the public, and has brushed off the idea of abdicating in favour of her son, Crown Prince Frederik.

A 2014 poll showed that more than 80% of Danes support the monarchy.

Margrethe is marking 50 years on the throne
Queen Margrethe is marking 50 years on the throne with low-key events (Scanpix via AP)

Postponed golden jubilee events include being cheered by thousands from the balcony of the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, a ride through the capital in a horse-drawn carriage, a gala performance at the Royal Theatre and a festive banquet.

On January 14 1972, her father, King Frederik IX, died after a short illness. The following day, a red-eyed Margrethe, aged 31, stood on the balcony of the downtown Christiansborg Castle and was formally proclaimed queen before a crowd of thousands.

Throughout her reign, the queen has criss-crossed the realm and made numerous visits abroad.

Last year she travelled to Denmark’s self-governing territories of the Faeroe Islands and Greenland.

She also went to Berlin for the centennial of the 1920 reunification with Denmark of the southern part of the Jutland peninsula, which had been under German rule.

Queen Margrethe
The monarchy remains popular with the Danish public (Scanpix via AP)

When she has a break from official duties, Margrethe – Europe’s second-longest reigning monarch after the Queen – paints, sketches, illustrates books, creates church textiles and embroiders.

She has also created costumes and sets for several ballets at the Tivoli gardens, Copenhagen’s downtown amusement park.

Born on April 16, 1940, a week after the start of Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark, the infant princess became a symbol of hope to many Danes in the war years.

It took a vote to make her queen, though. In 1953, the Danish Constitution was changed following a referendum in which more than 85% of participants voted to allow female succession.

Previously, the Danish throne had descended only through the male line, but the rise of feminism and the fact that Frederik and Swedish-born Queen Ingrid had three daughters but no son, had swayed public opinion.

Margrethe and Frederik
Margrethe his dismissed talk of abdicating in favour of her son Crown Prince Frederik (Scanpix via AP)

The Danish constitution gives Margrethe no real political power but she is clearly well-versed in law and knows the content of legislation she is called upon to sign.

“My principal and most important task is to be Queen of Denmark and the head of state,” she said in a recent TV interview. “But I am grateful that I can also express myself artistically.”

One of her latest projects is collages for a film by Danish Academy Award-winning director Bille August, who is adapting a story about a fairytale kingdom. The film is expected in 2023.

Her popularity has in part grown because of her straightforward talking in her annual televised New Years speeches, where she has spoken about being less “selfish”, integrating foreigners and tackling loneliness.

In 2014, 82% of respondents in a poll opposed abolishing 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 position, you work to keep your country.

“You give your life to your country.”

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