The monarch’s decision was announced in a statement shared by the royal palace on Wednesday, in which it was revealed that the children of the Queen’s second son, Prince Joachim, will no longer have prince or princess titles, nor His/Her Highness titles.
The change in titles will apply to Prince Nikolai, 23, Prince Felix, 20, Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, 10, who, from 1 January 2021, will instead go by their titles of Count and Countess of Monpezat.
While the titles that the Queen’s grandchildren have used until now “will be discontinued,” the statement noted that all four grandchildren “maintain their places in the order of succession”. They are currently seventh through 10th in the line of succession.
According to the Danish palace, the Queen’s decision was made after witnessing similar changes to other monarchies, with the palace stating that the ruling is “in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years”.
The palace also noted that the monarch hopes her four grandchildren will be able to go on to lead lives that are not shaped by their royal titles as a result of the decision.
“With her decision, Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves,” the statement reads.
The decision will not, however, impact the four children of Crown Prince Frederik and his wife Crown Princess Mary: Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 15, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, 11, who will continue to hold royal titles.
Following the announcement, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, the mother of Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, and ex-wife of Prince Joachim, shared her confusion and “shock” over the decision.
“We are all confused by the decision. We are saddened and in shock,” Alexandra said in a statement from her press advisor to Danish magazine Se og Hør, according to People. “This comes like a bolt from the blue. The children feel ostracised. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them.”
Prince Joachim shares Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, with Princess Marie, who he married in 2008.
Queen Margrethe of Denmark’s decision comes after a similar one by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, who announced in October 2019 that the children of Princess Madeleine and Chris O’neill, and Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, would lose their HRH titles.
At the time, the Swedish royal palace also announced the King’s five grandchildren would no longer be expected to perform official royal duties.
The Danish palace’s decision comes amid ongoing speculation about whether King Charles III will bestow royal titles on his grandchildren, Archie and Lilibet, the son and daughter of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. On the royal family’s website, the Duke and Duchess’s children are still referred to as “Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor” and “Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor,” despite a Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917 stating that grandchildren of a British monarch could be princes or princesses.