Crown Princess Mary to become Queen on January 14

Queen Margrethe has announced that she is to abdicate.

In surprise news Queen Margrethe of Denmark has announced that she is to abdicate after 52 years on the throne. On January 14, the anniversary of Margrethe’s accession, the Danish Queen will hand over the throne to her son Crown Prince Frederik and Australia’s Mary Donaldson, Denmark’s Crown Princess will become Queen Mary.

It was always thought that Queen Margrethe would reign until death, echoing the example of the late Queen Elizabeth II. She is after all the last remaining queen regnant in the world and probably the most popular with the monarchy boasting an approval rating of more than 82 per cent with the Danish people. But Margrethe has always been a very pragmatic and prudent queen and feels that the ailments of her age – she turned 83 in April – have caught up with her.

“In two weeks’ time I have been Queen of Denmark for 52 years,” she said in a speech from Christian IX’s Palace at Amelienbourg in Copenhagen. The Queen’s annual New Year’s address is watched by most Danes and this year it proved to be both poignant and personal. “Such an amount will leave its mark on anybody – also on me! The time takes its toll, and the number of “ailments” increases. One cannot undertake as much as one managed in the past,” Her Majesty continued.

“In February this year I underwent extensive back surgery. Everything went well, thanks to the competent health personnel, who took care of me. Inevitably, the operation gave cause to thoughts about the future – whether now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.”

“I have decided that now is the right time. On 14th January, 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I will hand over the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik.”

Queen Margrethe abdication preparations

But while the abdication came as a shock, in hindsight I can see that Queen Margrethe has been preparing for this moment for a while.

In September last year the Queen announced a new slimmed down Danish monarchy stripping four of her grandchildren of their royal titles. The reasoning given was to allow the children of her youngest son Prince Joachim to live more normal lives free from royal duties. But it also was clearly a practical move, future proofing the institution as a ‘value for money’ proposition for the Danish people moving forward.

The decision did cause some consternation with Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie who openly expressed their dismay and later moved to the US. And in response, Margrethe said: “I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected.”

Now, following her abdication announcement, it’s obvious that Queen Margrethe II was putting her house in order, in preparation for her son to take over. With the family feud over, she could prepare a fresh slate for her son to take over as King Frederik X.

What’s more we saw preparations only last month, when the soon-to-be Heir Apparent and Crown Prince, Mary’s eldest son Prince Christian, who recently turned 18, made his so-called solemn declaration at the Council of State. There history was made with three generations in the line of succession present at the same time – the first time this has happened in more than 100 years.

From Crown Princess to Queen Mary

So…what sort of King and Queen will Frederik and Mary make? Well, very modern ones. They are both fierce environmentalists, passionate about the rigours of climate change.

Frederik’s popularity has soared in recent years boosted in part by his Royal Run, which are annual fun runs across Denmark which he takes part in and began in 2018, to promote national fitness.

For her part, Mary has proved to be a very active human rights campaigner and powerful humanitarian. In 2008 she launched The Mary Foundation, a charity set up using the 1.1 million kroner raised in Denmark and Greenland and donated in honour of the Crown Prince Couple’s wedding.

The work of The Mary Foundation focuses on three areas: bullying and well-being, domestic violence and loneliness. “Everyone has the right to belong. The Mary Foundation works for the many people who are alone,” she says.

Royal romance

It was 20 years ago that the Danish palace officially announced the engagement that would change the path of one of the oldest monarchies in the world. Rumours had been swirling in Danish and Australian media for months and a couple of weeks before the announcement, Queen Margrethe II formally advised the court that she intended to give consent for her eldest son and heir Crown Prince Frederik to wed Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, an Australian advertising executive born in Tasmania.

At the time this was huge news for the Royal House of Denmark and once the nation got to meet their new Crown Princess, proved very welcome with the people.

The couple had famously met three years earlier on September 16, 2000 in a Sydney bar when the Emerald City was in the grip of Olympics fever. As world famous athletes filled the city streets and Cathy Freeman claimed Olympic gold and a place in the history books, no one noticed Denmark’s Crown Prince joining the celebrations. Indeed, Mary had no clue who he was when they were introduced by mutual friends.

After that first meeting Mary and Frederik started dating. “It was a wonderful meeting of two people” Mary noted in a 2004 documentary produced by Danish film director Jacob Jørgensen.

And on May 14 2004, they married. One and a quarter million watched the wedding live on TV in Australia even though it was broadcast in the early hours of the morning. A Danish newspaper poll found that five out of six Danes felt that Australian Mary would make a great Danish queen. That opinion has remained pretty stable and now will give Australian Mary the support she needs to become Queen consort.

Related stories