Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat was born on 11 June 1934 in Talence, Gironde, France, to Count André de Laborde de Monpezat and Countess Renée de Monpezat, née Doursennot.
Henri, as he was then known, spent his first five years in Vietnam while his father was employed there. He was educated privately at home until 1947 before enrolling at the Jesuit boarding school in Bordeaux. Henri would attend upper secondary school in Cahors, France, and would later graduate from the French upper secondary school in Hanoi, Vietnam. For his university studies, he studied law and political science at the Sorbonne in Paris while also focusing on Chinese and Vietnamese at École Nationale des Langues Orientales.
He served in the French Army during the Algerian War and worked in the French Foreign Affairs ministry beginning in 1962. That position would send him to London a year later where he would work in the French embassy as a secretary until 1967.
A lover of poetry, the Prince has had several of his works published in French, Greenlandic and Danish as well as other memoirs and a recipe book. In 2010, His Royal Highness told DR about his love of poetry saying, “I see poetry as an opportunity for immersion in a superficial time characterised by news and entertainment that makes us numb and restless. Poetry approaches the true being of the world, in poetry, one can approach the eternal issues like love, loneliness and death.”
His Royal Highness had eight siblings – five sisters and three brothers – but three of them did not make it to adulthood. Sibling Maurille Beauvillain de Monpezat died in 2015 after an extended period of illness. His four surviving siblings all reside in France.
The polyglot, who speaks his native French, Danish, English, Chinese and Vietnamese, married Princess Margrethe of Denmark (heir apparent to the Danish throne) on 10 June 1967 at the Naval Church of Copenhagen. He converted from Roman Catholicism to Lutheranism and changed his name to the Danish form “Henrik.” Upon his marriage, he became His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark.
Together, they had two sons: Crown Prince Frederik (b. 1968) and Prince Joachim (b. 1969). They also had eight grandchildren: Princes Christian and Vincent and Princesses Isabella and Josephine through Crown Prince Frederik’s marriage to Crown Princess Mary, Prince Nikolai and Felix from Prince Joachim’s first marriage to Alexandra Manley and Prince Henrik and Princess Athena from his second marriage to Princess Marie. The Prince was known to be a doting grandfather with Princess Isabella being especially close to him.
Margrethe came to the throne upon the death of her father in 1972. He was made Prince Consort in 2005, and in 2008, both of Margrethe and Henrik’s sons were conferred the title “Count of Monpezat.” It was also made hereditary for both male and females of their male-line descendants.
In her New Year’s address at the end of 2015, Queen Margrethe announced that Prince Henrik would begin to slim down his duties. Later that year, he gave up the title of Prince Consort.
The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary just last year. It was revealed in August 2017 that Henrik did not wish to be buried beside his wife in Roskilde Cathedral. A spokesperson stated that the Queen accepted his decision.
The announcement regarding his burial came after a wave of controversial statements over the years by the Prince where he complained of never being made the Queen’s equal as King Consort and was forced to accept the title of Prince Consort instead. He told Danish press BT in an interview in 2017, “If she [The Queen] wants to have me buried next to her, she must make me King Consort, that’s it!
“My wife has decided that she would like to be Queen, and I’m very pleased with that; but as a person, she must know that if a man and a woman are married, then they are equal.
“My wife hasn’t shown me the respect an ordinary wife should show her spouse.”
The Prince did add that he loved Queen Margrethe in the interview and at the time of its release, the couple was holidaying together in France.
The Royal House said at the time, “For the Prince, the decision not to be buried beside the queen is the natural consequence of not having been treated equally to his spouse – by not having the title and role he has desired.”
Queen Margrethe’s husband has been in ill health over the past year with several hospitalisations and a dementia diagnosis last September. On 2 February of this year, the Royal House announced that His Royal Highness had a tumour and infection in his left lung. Thankfully, the tumour was benign.
However, the Royal House released a press release on 9 February with the sad news that His Royal HIghness’s health had seriously worsened. Crown Prince Frederik was asked to return home from South Korea where he was to attend International Olympic Committee meetings and cheer on Danish athletes in the Winter Olympics.
Prince Henrik died on 13 February at 11:18 pm at home in Fredensborg Palace in Copenhagen peacefully in his sleep. He was surrounded by Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.