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Denmark

Denmark’s queen announces surprise abdication live on TV

Author: Karla Adam Source: The Washington Post
December 31, 2023 at 16:01
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark gives a New Year's speech in which she unexpectedly announced she would be stepping down from the throne. (Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix/AP)
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark gives a New Year's speech in which she unexpectedly announced she would be stepping down from the throne. (Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix/AP)

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II has announced her surprise abdication in a new year TV address.
 

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II surprised her country on New Year’s Eve by announcing live on television that she was abdicating after more than half a century on the throne, citing age- and health-related concerns.

The 83-year-old queen, who made the shock announcement during her traditional evening New Year’s Eve speech, will be succeeded by her eldest son. She will step down on Jan. 14, exactly 52 years after she succeeded her father as monarch.

“I will hand over the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik,” said the queen, who was seated at a table and reading from a statement during an evening broadcast to the nation.

Her 55-year-old son will become King Frederik X and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, an Australian, will be queen.

In her address, Margrethe said she thought the time was right to pass on the baton. She referenced the back surgery she underwent this year, saying that it “naturally gave rise to thinking about the future, whether the time had come to leave responsibility to the next generation. I have decided that now is the right time,” she said.

“Time takes its toll, and the number of ‘ailments’ increases. One cannot undertake as much as one managed in the past,” she said.

An eloquent and popular queen, Margrethe is the longest-serving monarch in Europe following the 2022 death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Margrethe is well known for her love of archaeology — she has taken part in excavations in several countries and studied prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge. She also studied at Aarhus University, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics. She is known as well for her artistic pursuits, including work as an illustrator and as a costume and production designer.

In 2022, the queen caused a stir when she moved to downsize the Danish royal family by stripping four of her grandchildren of their royal titles. She later said she underestimated how her family would feel about her decision, but nonetheless said it was a “necessary future-proofing of the monarchy.”

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen thanked the queen for her long service.

“It is still difficult to understand that the time has now come for a change of throne,” Frederiksen said in a statement. “Many of us have never known another monarch. Queen Margrethe is the epitome of Denmark and throughout the years has put words and feelings into who we are as a people and as a nation.”

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