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Who is Princess Benedikte of Denmark?

Her Royal Highness Benedikte Astrid Ingeborg Ingrid, Princess of Denmark, was born on 29 April 1944 at Frederik VIII’s Palace, in the Amalienborg Complex, Copenhagen.

Having been born during World War II, Denmark was in the middle of Nazi occupation, which made impossible for the Danish Armed Forces to celebrate the birth with the traditional 21-gun salute associated with royal births. One day later, however, Holger Danske, a Danish resistance group, marked the birth of Princess Benedikte by setting off 21 bombs at Ørstedsparken, Copenhagen.

Princess Benedikte is the second daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark; she is the younger sister of Queen Margrethe II and the elder sister of Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. Through her mother, who was born a Princess of Sweden, Princess Benedikte is a first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who named her godmother of his youngest child, Princess Madeleine.

At the time of her birth, King Christian X, Princess Benedikte’s paternal grandfather, occupied the throne of Denmark and her maternal great-grandfather, King Gustaf V, was the monarch of Sweden.

Princess Benedikte was christened on 24 May 1944 at the Church of Holmen, the same church where her elder sister would marry two decades later. Among her godparents are King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, her paternal grandparents; King Gustaf V of Sweden, her maternal great-grandfather; and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Princess Benedikte studied at N. Zahles’s School for both primary school and gymnasium, as did her sisters. Later she studied in a boarding school in the UK and a finishing school in Switzerland. She also took a course of dressing and design in 1965 at Margrethe-skolen.

Princess Benedikte took part at the 1961 wedding of her cousin, Princess Birgitta of Sweden, as a bridesmaid and again at the wedding of Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark to Infante Juan Carlos of Spain in 1962, together with her younger sister, then Princess Anne-Marie.

In 1947, Princess Benedikte’s grandfather, King Christian X, died and her father ascended to the throne of Denmark as King Frederik IX. However, the King had no son at a time when succession to throne followed the principles of Salic Law that prevented women from becoming monarch of Denmark. Only in 1953, the Constitution was changed to allow female succession in the absence of males, which made possible for Princess Benedikte and her sisters to have dynastic rights.

A candid photo of Princess Benedikte of Denmark, 30 January 1968. Photo: Reporters Associés via IMS Vintage Photos/Public Domain

Three months prior to the wedding of Princess Margrethe and Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, the engagement of Princess Benedikte to Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg was announced. King Frederik IX gave his consent to the marriage of his second daughter on the Council of State one week before Princess Margrethe’s wedding, but he made the consent conditional so that the children of the marriage would only have succession rights in Denmark if they were raised in the country, which didn’t happen.

Their wedding was celebrated on 3 February 1968 with a religious ceremony at Fredensborg Palace Church, followed by a banquet at the Palace. The previous day a Gala Performance had been held at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. Those in attendance included the families of the bride and groom, members of the Scandinavian and foreign royal families, including Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Wedding of Princess Benedikte of Denmark and Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, 1968. Rigmor Mydtskov & Sten Rønne via IMS Vintage Photos/Public Domain

Together, Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg had three children: Prince Gustav, born on 12 January 1969; Princess Alexandra, born on 20 November 1970; and Princess Natalie, born 2 May 1975. The couple also has four grandchildren.

Since her wedding, Princess Benedikte has divided her time between her marital home at Berleburg Castle, Germany, and Denmark, where she keeps residence at Christian VIII’s Palace in the Amalienborg Complex.

The Princess has, through the years, carried out a number of engagements in Denmark as a member of the Royal House, been present for the Opening of Parliament and State Banquets that take place during State Visits. She also holds patronages that reflect her many interests, such as the scout movement and horses, being herself a horse breeder and dressage rider.

Her Royal Highness has also acted as Assistant Regent of Denmark in the absence of her sister, the Queen, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

Unfortunately, on March 2017 Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg passed away suddenly and left Princess Benedikte as a widow. The funeral service was held in the town of Berleburg.

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