15 April 2015

Today's Princess: Margrethe II of Denmark

via Wikimedia Commons
In 1940, the Nazis stormed into Denmark. One week later, on April 16, the nation welcomed a much more delightful newcomer, Princess Margrethe (1940- ), daughter of the then-Crown Prince Frederik and his wife Princess Ingrid of Sweden. Unlike in other royal families in occupied Europe, the Crown Princess and her new baby did not leave the country for safety elsewhere. Instead, Ingrid wished to stay and live openly in resistance to the German overlords. She was not afraid to push Margrethe's carriage through the streets, even after she hung Danish, Swedish and British flags in Margrethe's nurseries windows.

Margrethe inherited her mother's strength of character and her popularity with the Danish people. The Crown Princely was so popular in fact, that a movement began to change the laws in favor of young Margrethe. At the time of her birth, the law banned women from inheriting the Danish throne, but as it became clear that Frederik and Ingrid would have only daughters--three in total--the law was changed. It took two Acts of Parliament and a public referendum. So, in a way, the Danish people actually voted to make Margrethe their future queen shortly before her 13th birthday.

As such, she received an extraordinary education. She studied at Girton College, Cambridge University, Aarhus University, the Sorbonne and London School of Economics. She spent 12 years of voluntary service with the Women's Flying Corps. She speaks not only Danish and her mother's native Swedish but also English, French and German. Throughout all of these preparations to be queen, she developed many artistic talents. She often designs her own colorful wardrobe, has had many exhibitions or her own artwork around the world, and not only illustrated the 1977 Danish translation of The Lord of the Rings, but also helped with the translation itself.

In 1967, she married French diplomat Count Henri Laborde de Monpezat, a fellow linguist (he speaks French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Danish) and artistic spirit (he writes poetry). By their second anniversary, the couple already had two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim. They are now the grandparents of eight, including five princes and three princesses. The marriage had a very public rough spot in 2003 when Henri left the country after getting upset about his royal precedence, but Margrethe went to him in France and they were reunited. She has since signaled his role as the patriarch of their family by creating the Danish title Count of Monpezat and granting it to their descendants. [UPDATE: Prince Henrik passed away on Feb. 13, 2018.]

by Holger Motzkau
via Wikimedia Commons
Margrethe ascended the throne upon the death of her father in 1972. She has been a very popular monarch. She can be seen shopping in the local markets and riding her bicycle among the people and she can be seen dripping in ancestral jewels welcoming foreign leaders or jetting around the globe to promote Danish trade. She has managed to find a balance between accessibility and majesty that works well in Denmark. With 43 years on the throne, she has the second longest reign among current European monarchs; only Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has reigned longer.

The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor provided a full rundown of birthday events in its Sunday Tidbits. It is featuring an open post on all of the festivities today and tomorrow. FYI The Danes love any excuse to throw a royal gala, so be prepared to see royals from all over the world for this celebration.

For more on Margrethe:
Her Official Biography on Kongehuset
10 Facts about Queen Margrethe on Hello
Queen Margrethe on Royalista
Queen Margrethe on Tumblr
Queen Margrethe's Accession on Royal Order of Splendor
Queen Margrethe II on Hello
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's 40th Anniversary on Dag Trygsland Hoelseth
Margrethe II's Illustrations on io9
Wedding of Margrethe II and Henri Laborde de Monpezat on Unofficial Royalty

CNN's Program on Margrethe's Ruby Jubilee by Max Foster:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Blogs about Margrethe:
Queen Margrethe II on Tumblr

Books about Margrethe:

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