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French President Emmanuel Macron starts state visit to Denmark

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte started their two-day state visit to Denmark, the first state visit by a French President to Denmark since 1982.

The beginning of the visit was delayed by the French President’s team as France’s Environment Minister quit in the morning, so the President had to deal with the crisis before the visit.

45 minutes later than planned, the French Presidential Couple arrived at the Kastellet were they were welcomed by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. Both couples took part in a wreath-laying ceremony before driving to Amalienborg Palace where the President and his wife were officially welcomed by Queen Margrethe. Prince Joachim, Princess Marie, and Princess Benedikte also attended the meeting.

Afterwards, Brigitte Macron took part in a working lunch with Crown Princess Mary while President Macron met with the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen and the President of the Parliament, Pia Kjærsgaard.

Crown Princess Mary then accompanied Brigitte Macron to visit the Royal Academy of Fine Arts where they had the opportunity to learn more about the work for sustainable fashion by the design school.  Meanwhile, Crown Prince Frederik, President Macron, and the Danish Prime Minister spent the afternoon together. They first went to the Royal Library to see Søren Kierkegaard manuscripts before attending a debate on Europe at Den Sorte Diamant. President Macron and the Prime Minister took part in the discussion, answering students’ questions, but Crown Prince Frederik stayed in the audience.

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This visit was also the opportunity for Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron to visit Krudttønden where terrorist attacks took place in 2015 to pay their respects. They also took part in a boat tour of the city with the Prime Minister and his wife.

In the evening, Queen Margrethe hosted a state banquet at Christianborg Palace in honour of President Macron and Mrs Macron. Since France has a particular system of orders and doesn’t give them out often, it was interesting to see which order the members of the Danish Royal Family received. Queen Margrethe (and the late Prince Henrik) had already received the Grand Cross of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur (the highest level of the highest order, the only level of the order where a sash has to be worn) before this state visit. Princess Marie had also received a French order before the state visit as she was made Grand Officer of the Légion d’Honneur back in April 2017.

In recent years, the only French order given during official and state visits was the Order of the National Merit – the second highest French order. (For example, this is the one Queen Máxima of the Netherlands received during then-President François Hollande visit in 2014).

When they arrived at the state banquet, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were wearing blue sashes, thus confirming that they had received the Order of the National Merit. Prince Joachim and Princess Marie were wearing their crosses of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur which means that they have a higher foreign order than the Crown Prince Couple which is quite unusual but quite logical given the circumstances. Had Princess Marie not received the Légion d’Honneur back in 2017, she and Prince Joachim probably would have received the Order of the National Merit or no French order at all. Princess Benedikte did not receive any French order, so she wore the Danish Order of the Elephant (as did Prince Joachim and Princess Marie since their French order does not have a sash).

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During the state banquet, Queen Margrethe and Emmanuel Macron made their speeches in French (instead of Danish and English), per Queen Margrethe’s request, and both paid a lovely tribute to the late Prince Henrik who was a French citizen before his wedding to Queen Margrethe.

When she started her speech, Queen Margrethe said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you today to Denmark. France is a close friend and ally, and I know how much it would have pleased Prince Henrik to show you this country that became his. My mother, Queen Ingrid, emphasised that my sisters and I should learn French. That’s why I spent some profitable months in Paris in 1963. It was of great importance when I met my future husband, Henri de Monpezat, in London. He naturally insisted that our sons learned French when they were very young, and throughout his life, he worked to promote French culture and the French language. It would have been with joy and pride that he would have received the French presidential couple here with me.”

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After thanking the Queen for her request regarding the language of the speeches – saying he was profoundly touched – Emmanuel Macron spoke about Prince Henrik, too: “And at this moment, allow me to have a thought for your husband Prince Henrik of Denmark who passed away last February and who worked so much by your side for the promotion of the French culture and the French language, wanting to show its creativity and its poetry.”

Danish experts noted that it was one of Queen Margrethe’s most personal speeches and that this state visit allowed her to show how much Prince Henrik meant to her and Denmark, thus sharing something very private. They also noted that Princess Marie – who was also a French citizen before marrying Prince Joachim – seemed quite emotional and proud during the speeches.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron will continue their state visit until tomorrow afternoon when they are expected for another official visit to Finland.