Queen Margrethe II officially abdicated her throne after a reign of 52 years, the end of an era for the nation. The transition took place on January 14, 2024, at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, where the queen signed a formal declaration of abdication, making the way for her eldest son, former Crown Prince Frederik, to ascend to the throne as King Frederik X.
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The 83-year-old monarch announced her decision in a live New Year’s Eve speech. Queen Margrethe cited back surgery and on whether it was an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.
This announcement triggered emotions across Denmark, where Margrethe was the only monarch many had ever known.
Queen Margrethe, adorned in a magenta outfit, signed the abdication declaration during a meeting with the Danish Cabinet at Christiansborg Palace.
The ceremony was attended by members of the Danish government and the royal family. Crown Prince Frederik, her eldest son, who was in ceremonial military attire adorned with medals, sat beside her during thismoment.
After signing the declaration, Queen Margrethe gracefully gestured to Crown Prince Frederik to take her place.
As she left the room, she uttered the words, “God save the king,” officially signaling the transfer of the crown to her son.
Following the signing of the abdication declaration, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, proclaimed Frederik X as the new king from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace.
This tradition, established since the constitution of 1849, was seen by thousands of people who had gathered despite the weather.
King Frederik X, at 55 years old, became the ruling monarch of Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
This is the first voluntary abdication in nearly 900 years in Denmark, breaking with a tradition of monarchs serving until their passing.
Frederik X is now tasked with leading the Danish monarchy into a new era. Denmark operates as a constitutional monarchy, where formal powers lie with the elected parliament and government based at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.
The royals, including the reigning monarch, perform essential but symbolic ambassadorial roles and play a part in approving new legislation.
While the monarchy’s role is largely ceremonial, it holds cultural and historical importance for the Danish people. Queen Margrethe retains her title as Her Majesty.
The Danish Royal House has clarified that she can be installed as an acting regent, allowing her to perform duties as the head of state when both King Frederik X or Crown Prince Christian are unavailable, especially during overseas travels.
The abdication event drew massive crowds to the streets of Copenhagen, with thousands of citizens braving the cold weather to witness this moment.
Homemade cardboard crowns, red and white flags, and a palpable sense of celebration characterized the atmosphere as Denmark transitioned to a new era.
This royal transition included a balcony appearance, a tradition in Denmark where the reigning monarch is publicly proclaimed by the prime minister.
The public, anticipating this moment, looked on as King Frederik X and his Australian-born wife made their appearance, joined by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
King Frederik X, along with his wife Queen Mary, has been celebrated for their efforts to modernize the Danish monarchy.
Their informal and down-to-earth approach has endeared them to the public. The couple, known for raising their four children with a focus on normalcy, has been seen shopping, dining, and even riding bicycles in public, breaking away from the more traditional image of European royalty.
The royal couple has also addressed contemporary issues, including the climate crisis, sustainability, and women’s rights, with the monarchy with societal concerns.
Queen Mary, born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson in Hobart, Tasmania, entered the Danish royal family through a love story.
Her romance with Crown Prince Frederik began with a chance encounter at a Sydney bar during the 2000 Olympic Games.
Initially unaware of Frederik’s royal status, Mary’s journey from an Australian commoner to becoming Queen of Denmark has captured the public’s imagination.
The Australian connection has an unique flavor to Denmark’s royal family but has also garnered attention. Australians, proud of Mary’s ascent to the throne, celebrated the moment, recognizing one of their own becoming a queen in a foreign land.
Australia’s federal government is the occasion with a unique gift, addressing the close ties between the two nations.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a donation of 10,000 Australian dollars for the conservation of the Tasmanian devil, a well-known but marsupial in Mary’s home state.