Queen Margrethe: Inside the remarkable life of the Danish royal

Born as Margrethe Alexandrine Thorhildur Ingrid on 16 April 1940, Margrethe became Queen of Denmark on 14 January 1972 when her father King Frederick IX died. In 1953 Danish law was changed to allow women to inherit the throne.

She married French diplomat Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat on 10 June 1967, who became known as Prince Henrik.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark smiles as she opens the royal kitchen garden at Graasten Castle in Southern Jutland, July 24, 2020. - The "Royal Kitchen Garden" will be a new, regional tourist attraction in Southern Jutland, which will also be a local gathering place for teaching and activities that connect for sustainable cultivation of herbs, vegetables, berries and fruit.
This is everything you need to know about Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Photo: Getty Images

The pair had two sons together, Crown Prince Frederik, who was born on 26 May 1968, and Prince Joachim, who was born on 7 June 1969.

She is the first female monarch of Denmark since Margrethe I, who ruled the Scandinavian kingdoms in 1375.

How long were Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik married?

The couple were married 51 years, until Henrik died in February 2018.

Is Queen Margrethe related to the Queen?

Yes, the monarchs are third cousins, and reportedly good friends who talk to each other often, and visit each other when possible.

Queen Margrethe and Jenrik's wedding day
Queen Margrethe married Henrik on 10 June 1967. Photo: Getty Images

Does Queen Margrethe have any power?

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, so the power of the monarch is limited. Queen Margrethe has no political power, and does not express any political opinions. However, she does speak her mind, and was the first monarch to address the COVID-19 pandemic on television, where she told her subjects: “Sadly, not everyone is taking this seriously. Some are still hosting celebrations and birthday gatherings. This is not acceptable behaviour,” she reprimanded the nation. “It is thoughtless, and first and foremost inconsiderate.”

She also does a New Year’s speech every year, where she has spoken out against xenophobia and narrow-mindedness.


Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark attend a lunch reception to mark the forthcoming 75th Birthday of the Danish Queen at Aarhus City Hall on April 8, 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark.
The couple were married 51 years, until Henrik died in February 2018. Photo: Getty Images

Queen Margrethe’s style

Queen Margrethe is known for her flamboyant style and love of colour. She loves bright coats, sequins, and sometimes designs her own dresses for special occasions.

Is Queen Margrethe an artist?

Margrethe has a degree in political science, but is a self-taught artist, and has designed costumes and sets for fairy tale productions in Denmark including The Nutcracker and Cinderella.

Before she was Queen, she sent J.R.R. Tolkien her own illustrations for his Lord of the Rings book, under a pseudonym. Without knowing who she was, Tolkien loved the artwork and published her drawings in a 1977 Danish edition of his book.

She’s also designed some of her own clothes, and had some of her paintings put on postage stamps in Greenland.

What languages does Queen Margrethe speak?

Her mother tongue is Danish, but she also speaks fluent French, as Prince Henrik was French. She also speaks fluent English, Swedish and German.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and her sons Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark (L) and Prince Joachim of Denmark (R) appear on the Balcony of Amalienborg Palace on her 75th Birthday, on April 16, 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Queen Margrethe and Henrik had two sons together, Crown Prince Frederik, who was born on 26 May 1968, and Prince Joachim, who was born on 7 June 1969. Photo: Getty Images

Who will inherit the throne when Queen Margrethe dies?

Margrethe’s first-born son Crown Prince Frederik will become King when she dies, which means Princess Mary will become Queen. If Frederik can not take the throne for any reason, Frederik and Mary’s son, Prince Christian, is second in line to become heir.

Will Queen Margrethe abdicate?

When Prince Henrik first became ill with dementia in 2017, speculation started to mount that Queen Margrethe would abdicate the throne. This speculation increased when Henrik died in 2018, but royal experts believe the Queen will remain head of state until she dies.

“Queen Margrethe has always been very devoted to the job and she is known for that,” said author of The Royals in Australia, Juliet Rieden. “There is a long tradition in Denmark for the head of state to stay in office for as long as he or she lives. For Queen Margrethe to break with that historic tradition would be a big deal for Denmark.”

Queen Margrethe and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark open the new Copenhagen Zoo panda enclosure. This marks the launch of the research project Sino-Denmark Giant Panda Joint Research Project Cooperation a breeding and research program. The panda enclosure will be open to the public from April 11th. Copenhagen, Denmark, April 10, 2019. Photo by Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM.
Prince Frederik and his wife, Princess Mary, will take over the throne after Queen Margrethe. Photo: Getty Images

Where will Queen Margrethe be buried?

The Queen will be buried at Roskilde Cathedral in Copenhagen where nearly 40 other Danish kings and queens have been buried. In 2003 she started working with sculptor Bjørn Nørgaard to design a tomb for her, when she dies. The sarcophagus, which was finished in April 2018, is made out of glass and silver and is a rounded capsule, mounted on pillars topped with silver elephant heads. The base is made from French sandstone as a nod to Prince Henrik’s heritage, and the three pillars carrying the tomb are made from Danish granite, Faroese basalt and Greenland marble.

The sarcophagus was designed to be a joint tomb for Margrethe and her husband Henrik. However, in 2016 he announced he didn’t want to be buried with his wife, as per Danish tradition, because she had never made him “King consort”. “If she wants to bury me with her, she must make me a king consort,” he said. “Finished. I do not care.” Queen Margrethe accepted his decision and his ashes have been buried in the sea and garden of Fredensborg Castle.

Where does Queen Margrethe live?

The Queen has several residences, and moves around them depending on the time of year. In the spring and autumn, she stays at Fredensborg Palace, and in the winter she moves to Christian IX’s Palace, which is part of four residences in Amailenborg, Copehagen. Prince Frederik, Queen Mary and their children live in the neighbouring Frederik VIII’s Palace. The Queen also has a summer residence, Marselisborg Palace, in Aarhus, as well as a royal yacht which is used as an official residence for summer cruises abroad or in home waters.

Does Queen Margrethe have any grandchildren?

Yes, she has eight grandchildren. Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine are Prince Frederik and Princess Mary’s children. Prince Henrik and Princess Athena are the children of Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie. Prince Joachim also has two children from his first marriage to Countess Alexandra, Prince Nikolai, and Prince Felix.

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