A monarchy at war: Denmark's royal family feud exposed

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Queen Margrethe celebrates her 76th Birthday with, (left to right) Princess Mary, Crown Prince Frederik, the late Prince Henrik, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie in 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

With all eyes on the ongoing British royal family’s feud, you’d be forgiven for missing another devastating rift that’s seen a European monarchy divided for decades.

Before Harry and William’s much-publicised breakup, there was another set of royal brothers at war. Crown Prince Frederik, 51, and 50-year-old Prince Joachim of Denmark have reportedly long been at loggerheads, with tensions appearing to reach an all-time high earlier this year when the younger sibling relocated his family overseas.

So intense was their rivalry that at one point Frederik and Joachim’s wives, Aussie-born Princess Mary and Princess Marie respectively, reportedly weighed in.

But it’s not only the younger set of Danish royals that are seemingly at odds. The Scandinavian nation’s reigning queen, Margrethe, and her late husband Prince Henrik had a fractured relationship that often made headlines and saw the prince refuse to be buried alongside his wife.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and her sons, future king Frederik and Prince Joachim in 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

Royal brothers at war

Competitive and sporty, Fred and Joachim are little more than one year apart in age but it’s the elder brother who will one day be crowned king.

The pair have reportedly harboured a grudge over their respective roles, with Joachim apparently frustrated with Fred’s ‘lax attitude’ to his royal duties.

Parental favouritism is also said to have driven a wedge between the two brothers, as future monarch Fred was primed for his rule from a young age.

Princess Mary and Frederik chat with his brother Joachim and Princess Marie in 2014. Photo: Getty Images.

Joachim relocates to France

Their relationship appeared to reach a breaking point in February 2019 when Joachim whisked his current wife - who he met when still married to his first spouse, Countess Alexandra - and their four children away to Paris, France.

The prince, Marie and his kids, Princes Nikolai, Felix and Henrik and Princess Athena, were expected to live in the French capital until September 2020.

However, palace officials attempted to quash rumours that the move was a result of the brothers’ rift, explaining that Joachim will actually take part in a military training course, which is classed as one of the highest-ranking in France.

“The additional training in France supplements Prince Joachim’s current post in the Danish Defence, where the Prince is a special advisor to the chief of defence in relation to the reserve since 2015,” the Danish palace said in a statement.

According to new reports by Woman’s Day, the brothers have squared away their differences after being seen together for the first time in months in Paris.

Fred and Joachim and their wives were spotted embracing each other, with the future king telling local press it was ‘great’ to see his only sibling.

The brothers and their wives showed a united front on October 8, 2019, in Paris. Photo: Getty Images.

Marie vs Mary

The rift reportedly extended beyond the brothers to include their partners, with Princesses Mary and Marie clashing over who will eventually claim the throne.

While Fred and 47-year-old Mary (née Donaldson) are the rightful heirs, in April 2018 rumours were rife that Marie, 43, was doing everything she could to make sure they never inherited the crown.

“There is a serious war behind palace walls in the Danish monarchy and it’s got to the stage where the whole royal family is at crisis point,” a royal insider told New Idea at the time.

“Marie knows full well that when Queen Margrethe steps down, then Princess Mary will become queen – and that makes her blood boil”.

Others speculated that the striking physical similarities between Mary and Joachim’s second wife Marie were also a sore point between the two couples.

Princesses Mary and Marie, pictured with Prince Joachim in 2017, were said to be feuding. Photo: Getty Images.

Margrethe snubs son, favours Mary

Joachim and Marie’s hopes appeared to be snuffed out earlier this month when Queen Margrethe passed on some of her power to Princess Mary, enabling the mum-of-four to act as regent.

In a historic move, the 79-year-old monarch signed over the right for Tasmanian-born Mary to act on her behalf at official events when she is unable to attend.

The formality came a few months after a royal insider hinted to New Idea magazine that Mary was “already the de facto queen in many people’s eyes”.

Princess Mary can now act as Denmark’s Queen. Photo: Instagram/detdanskekongehus.

Margrethe and Henrik’s marriage woes

Queen Margrethe herself was the centre of a well-publicised and long-running spat with someone very close to her, her own husband Prince Henrik.

Despite marrying the future queen in 1967, Henrik retained his title of ‘prince consort’ when Margrethe ascended the throne five years later and made no secret of his displeasure over never being given the title of king.

The French-born prince was the first male consort to a Danish monarch since the 1300s and remained very vocal about never being on ‘equal footing’ with the queen who he said made him ‘a fool’.

Born Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat in a town near Bordeaux, the prince had to renounce his birth name, citizenship, religion, career and homeland when he joined the royal family.

Then-Princess Margrethe weds Prince Henrik in Copenhagen in 1967.

Prince abandons Denmark

An incident in 2002 saw him flee to his home country after his son Fred was appointed the host of a New Year’s Day reception in the queen’s absence.

He was quoted by the BBC at the time as feeling “pushed aside, degraded and humiliated” by the move which he felt relegated him to “third place in the royal hierarchy”.

Just last year, ageing Henrik told a Danish publication, “My wife does not give me the respect a normal wife must give her spouse. It is her that is making a fool of me.”

“My wife has decided that she wants to be Queen, and I’m very happy about that. But as a human being she needs to know that if a man and wife are married, they are equal.”

Henrik also declared that he was intent on breaking with Danish royal tradition and not being buried alongside his wife.

Shortly afterwards, the palace announced Henrik had been diagnosed with dementia, and he passed away in his sleep after a short illness on February 13, 2018.

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik in happier times with their son, Prince Frederik, his wife Princess Mary and their children in 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

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