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Prince Henrik of Denmark: why am I not king?

Prince Henrik of Denmark challenges age-old rule that means wives of kings are queens, but husbands of queens are princes.

Prince Henrik of Denmark, husband and Prince Consort of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has complained about the fact that he is not King of Denmark, but rather Prince Consort and has claimed that this constitutes sexism, according to an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. Prince Henrik was born in France, as Henri de Laborde de Monpezat. He married then heiress presumptive, Princess Margrethe on 10 June 1967, he was created a Prince of Denmark and his name was danicised to Henrik. They have two children and eight grandchildren.

Henrik said in the interview, “It angers me that I am discriminated against. Denmark, which is seemingly known as an avid defender of gender equality, apparently, is ready to be considered useless husbands their wives.”

The recent comments are not the first time he has complained about his status in Denmark. In 2002, he fled from Denmark to his home country of France after his son, the Crown Prince, was given precedence over him. After Margrethe had flown to France to bring him back, he was officially created Prince Consort in 2005.

During the marriage preparations for then Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta the issue of what she would be called when he succeeded his mother was also addressed. In the end she became Queen Consort, as expected. However, this is due to the fact that titles are derived from a man’s titles. Therefore, the husband of a Queen is not automatically a King. In some cases they are created King consort, as we saw when Queen Mary I married Philip of Spain. He was styled as King of England for the duration of Mary’s lifetime and all official documents bore both their names. In Portugal a man who was married to a Queen regnant became King consort upon the birth of an heir to the throne.

The Prince’s popularity has undoubtedly suffered due to his complaining and earlier this year Henrik was supposedly sick during Margrethe’s 75th birthday celebrations, but he was later spotted travelling around Venice in apparent good health. Even televised interviews are not safe from Henrik’s complaining. While Margrethe talks to Dutch TV about the terrorist attack in Denmark last February, Henrik suddenly goes into a rant about why he isn’t King. While he may have a point about inequality, his constant whining about it has made him a mockery in the domestic and foreign press. The plain fact is the law won’t change, not in his lifetime anyway and it would probably be best to grit his teeth.

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