Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, announces abdication

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Margrethe II in 2012
Image: Johannes Jansson.

During her annual New Year's Eve address on Sunday, Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, informed the public that she planned to step down on January 14. Crown Prince Frederik, her oldest son, is to succeed her.

She is 83 years old and has served as Queen for nearly 52 years. In her live television address, Margrethe also discussed global issues like climate change.

In Denmark, the monarch serves as head of state; the parliament is in charge of forming the government.

Margrethe received high levels of support from the Danish people, with about 80 percent of the public approving of her as of 2022. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen expressed gratitude for the queen's decades of service on the throne, calling her the "epitome of Denmark" in a statement.

Since the death of the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II, she has been the longest-reigning sitting monarch in Europe and the world's only reigning queen.

Born days after the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1940, she ascended to the monarchy in 1972. During her childhood, the 1953 Act of Succession gave women the ability to inherit the throne, and she became the first female monarch of Denmark in over 500 years.

Since Denmark has no formal coronation ceremonies, Crown Prince Frederik is set to be proclaimed King immediately after Margrethe formally abdicates.

The queen explained that her February back operation had led her to consider moving on. "The surgery naturally gave rise to thinking about the future," she said.

During her reign, she frequently traveled around her country without formal accompaniment and visited deployed Danish soldiers in the War in Afghanistan at 70 years old. Margrethe is also known for her interest in archaeology and the arts. Under a pseudonym, she was the illustrator of a 1977 Danish-language version of The Lord of the Rings.