As we in the United Kingdom look forward to celebrating the 91st birthday of Queen Elizabeth II next week, the people in Denmark celebrated the 77th birthday of their Queen.
Queen Margrethe has been ruler of Denmark for forty-five years, making her the second longest serving Danish monarch after Christian IV, who was King from 1588 to 1648. She took the throne in January 1972, following the passing of her father Frederick IX. At the time of Margrethe’s birth, only men could ascend the throne, but the Danish law of succession was changed just after World War II when it became clear after three daughters the chance of a male heir for King Frederick had all but vanished.
Like Queen Elizabeth, she is a constitutional monarch and takes no part in party politics. Though she has the right to a vote, she does not, keeping her political impartiality. She represents Denmark abroad and, like many monarchs, is a unifying force within the country. She also attends many award ceremonies and opens buildings, bridges and the like.
The Queen also has a number of links with the United Kingdom. Following tradition, one of the roles she has is Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. She is also a member of the Order of the Garter, and in her own right is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. The latter perhaps results from her studying prehistoric archaeology at Girton College, Cambridge.
Until recently, Queen Margrethe has been assisted by her husband Prince Henrik. However, the Danish court has said that he has decided to give up the role, and retire from a number of royal duties. No doubt, the Queen will be assisted more in the future by her eldest son Crown Prince Frederik. According to tradition, Danish Kings are named alternately Frederick or Christian. This being the case, Margrethe elected to be “Christian”, and hence her first son, born in 1968, was Crown Prince Frederik. His younger brother Prince Joachim followed in 1969. Frederik’s oldest son, Prince Christian, is expected to rule someday, thereby keeping the tradition alive.