Denmark’s Queen Margrethe is headstrong and sometimes uncomfortable. And makes it clear on the 50th anniversary of the throne that she will stay that way
When Denmark’s shy Crown Princess had herself proclaimed Queen in Copenhagen’s Palace Square half a century ago, the head of government did not expect anything good. The social democrat Jens Otto Krag called out to the crowd in the square three times: “King Frederik IX. is dead. Long live Queen Margrethe II! ”He discreetly entered in his diary:“ It can be exhausting. Incidentally, she has political knowledge, which is not necessarily an advantage. “
What a mistake. In her many years of service – only Queen Elizabeth II is currently in power for longer – the Danish Queen has not only shed her shyness and developed a sometimes disarming self-irony. Even those who consider the monarchy to be an out-of-date operetta production attest the 81-year-old to an amazingly sovereign administration. If Corona hadn’t prevented big celebrations in the middle of lockdown 2020, as it did on her 80th birthday, the completely Kristenfest popular Margrethe could be sure of masses of warm congratulations in front of her Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. That should be made up for in the summer.
After all, the restrictions in Denmark have already been relaxed two days before the anniversary. At Margaret’s traditional New Year’s address, nobody knew how badly the omicron variant would afflict the kingdom, which has so far been enviable through the pandemic. As always, the ten minutes full of nice-sounding generalities about life itself (“When you are young, you strive for recognition”) and how beautiful it is in Denmark were part of the voluntary compulsory program of Danish New Year’s Eve celebrations. And are followed with excitement every year.
Has the Queen asked her six million compatriots to be more tolerant of immigrants in a subordinate clause? Or is it the immigrants to adapt more? Although the speeches are delivered to government offices beforehand and, if necessary, brought “on line”, the media overflows with hair-cut comments about which message Margrethe wanted to convey to the people. There is practically no criticism. As human, positive and heartwarming, it is noted that the Queen, now at an advanced age, had problems finding the right page in the manuscript. And: What should be wrong with it if she interrupts the celebratory flow of speech to take a handkerchief out of the drawer and calmly blow her nose?
Age-independent characteristics with potential for malice, such as her nicotine addiction, which she indulges in to this day, are also being looked at with astonishing consistency by Margrethe. She no longer smokes in public, but in interviews she expressly confesses to the joy of smoking. Shortly before her 80th birthday, she expressed doubts as to whether the climate changes were caused by humans – blatantly contrary to the government line and a political statement that is actually not allowed for the royal family. But there was no outcry. And the TV broadcaster DR, who always reported enthusiastically to submissively as in the 19th century, commented on the royal family: “The queen will soon be 80 and loved by the people. She is inviolable, almost no matter what she says. “
That’s probably true, so sponge over it. It is much more preferable to admire the fact that Denmark’s second regent, active as an amateur artist in a thousand years of royal history, has only just accepted a new commission. She is to design the scenography and costumes for a film by director Bille August. What art and culture has it not already produced and always fearlessly presented to the public! From the translation of the feminism classic “The Other Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir to the design of altar carpets and bishop’s robes, to stage sets for Andersen fairy tales and landscape watercolors. Not always gracious by professional colleagues, but all the more benevolently viewed by the media.
The Queen has also achieved this status as a mirror for Danish society’s positive image of herself. Whatever problem arose in her long life as regent, nothing changed the unshakable conviction that everything is basically for the best. In the last phase of his life, husband Prince Henrik, who died in 2018 at the age of 83, not only ran amok against his role as “number two”, but also publicly declared after half a century of marriage that under no circumstances did he want to be by the side of the Queen in Roskilde Cathedral to be buried. There were already two glass coffins placed side by side at this traditional resting place for the royal family. Margrethe stuck to her husband stubbornly.
Anyone who has been following the royals in Denmark for a long time will never forget the following incident that highlights the relationship between Queen Margrethe and “her people”: In 1993, Prince Henrik went for a walk in the forest with his dachshund Asterix and Zenobie, the queen’s Fredensborg Castle. On the way he lost Zenobia. The queen searched for weeks in the huge forest and set up “sniffing depots” to attract the sorely missing. Without success, whereupon Margrethe turned to the public with a cry for help. Shortly afterwards, the television showed an impressively large crowd of people waving sausages and shouting “Zenobia” roaming the forest. Also without success. Whereupon the Queen thanked the people from the bottom of her heart and received a new dachshund lady named Celine from Prince Henrik for Christmas.
Speaking of thanks: It is unlikely that Margrethe will abdicate and make room for her 53-year-old son Prince Frederik.