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Denmark

The artistic Queen – How Margrethe of Denmark forged a public profile outside her royal role


By News Oresund - 20211005 Folketingets åbning Hendes Majestæt Dronning Margrethe II_50A8619, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is celebrating her Golden Jubilee this year. On 14 January 1972, she succeeded her father, King Frederick IX. In honour of her Golden Jubilee, we will be looking at her life and reign here on Royal Central. Throughout her life, Margrethe has been heavily involved with the visual and performing arts, which has continued through her reign. While many royals take on a more passive role as patrons of various museums, galleries, and theatres, the Danish Queen takes a more hands-on role.

In the early 1970s, Margrethe created illustrations for the Lord of the Rings books and sent the drawings to J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was impressed with her work and how similar they were to his own illustrations. In 1977, Margrethe’s drawings were used as the basis for the Danish translation of the series (redrawn by Eric Fraser). However, she used a pseudonym for these, Ingahild Grathmer. 

She works in a number of different mediums and has been included in several different exhibitions. The Queen paints a number of different subjects. She doesn’t work in one particular style, with her paintings ranging from stark landscapes to elaborate collages. 

In 2012, Margrethe’s watercolour work was used for Greenland stamps. And in the same year, the Arken Museum in Copenhagen staged a retrospective of her watercolours, showing over 130 of her paintings. 

Margrethe has also long been involved with the performing arts. She has worked with the Royal Danish Ballet and the Tivoli Ballet Theatre on several productions, designing both sets and costumes. Her productions with the companies include Love in the Skarn Box (2001), Thumbelina (2007), and The Snow Queen (2019). Her first foray into set and costume design was in 1992 when she redesigned the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of Danish ballet master August Bournonville’s A Folk Tale

Through social media and interviews, Margrethe continues to share her love of the arts. She has shared her embroidery work and even made a dachshund-inspired hat in honour of her pets. 

Interestingly, Margrethe did not formally train in the arts anywhere; she attended several prestigious schools, but her work in the arts is one of her hobbies. Her passion for the arts is unrivalled among her fellow monarchs, and it is wonderful to see her so involved. 

About author

Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com