The Danish Royal Family: Scandinavia Royal

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Down-to-earth, modern and glamorous – this is what the Danes appreciate about their royal family, which is one of the most popular in Europe. As one of the oldest monarchies in the world, the small kingdom can look back on a long history – at the same time, its history is closely related to the Norwegian royal family and the Swedish royal family. Find out everything you need to know about the Danish royals here.

The Danish monarchy

The history

Like Denmark itself, the Danish royal family has a long history – the current Queen Margrethe II can trace her family roots back to the first Viking kings in Danish history. The first king of a united Denmark was Gorm the Old, who lived in the first half of the 10th century and was the founder of the so-called Jelling dynasty, which also included Harald Bluetooth and Sweyn Forkbeard.

Over the decades and centuries, numerous other houses and dynasties ruled over Denmark – in the meantime, the dominion also included parts of Norway, Sweden, Iceland and England, so at the time of the Kalmar Union, for example, there was one monarch for all Scandinavian countries. There were also close ties with the German nobility.

The House of Oldenburg, one of the most important dynasties in the European aristocracy, had ruled since 1448. Its collateral line Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg came to power in 1863 when the Danish King Frederick VII died childless. His heir and successor was Christian IX, who was a distantl descendant of Christian III, who reigned in the 16th century. His wife Louise of Hesse-Kassel was a great-granddaughter of Frederick V, who had been the Danish monarch between 1746 and 1766, and a cousin of Frederick VII.

Denmark Sightseeing Runestones of Jelling
The rune stones of Jelling were created by King Gorm and are the starting point of the Danish monarchy.

The Danish Royal Family today

As in most other European kingdoms, the Danish monarchy only has a representative and formal function nowadays, as Denmark has been a parliamentary monarchy for many decades. This means that although the king is the head of state, he has no political power. He appoints the head of government, can dissolve parliament and sign laws, but cannot do so independently.

It is mainly appearances at events and public holidays where the Danish royal family plays a major role, such as on the Danish National Day. Visits to public institutions, leading and supporting charitable organisations and state visits are also among the current tasks of Frederik and his family.

Due to their closeness to the people, modernity and charity, the Danish royal family enjoys great popularity today and is one of the most popular royal families in Europe. You can get an insight into royal life not only on the website, but also on Instagram on the official account detdanskekongehus.

The members of the Danish royal family

King Frederik X and Queen Mary

Danish Royal Family King Frederik X and Queen Mary
King Frederik X and Queen Mary © Hasse Nielsen, Kongehuset

Frederik X. (born Frederik André Henrik Christian, *1968), is the eldest son of the former Danish Queen Margrethe II and her husband Prince Henrik and has been King of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland since his mother’s abdication on 14 January 2024.

He studied political science at Harvard and Aarhus and worked as a diplomat at the Danish embassies in New York and Paris. He also served in the Danish military.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Prince Frederik met the Australian Mary Donaldson, who worked in marketing. In 2004, the two married in the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen. Mary has been Queen of Denmark since the abdication of her mother-in-law.

Together they have four children: Christian, Isabella, Vincent and Josephine. The family lives at Amalienborg Palace in the centre of Copenhagen.

Queen Margrethe II.

Margrethe II of Denmark (*1940) was Queen of the Kingdom of Denmark from 14 January 1972 until 14 January 2024. She was the fifth monarch of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty, a collateral line of the House of Oldenburg, and is a cousin of the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, as well as a second cousin of King Harald V of Norway.

Margrethe II is the eldest daughter of King Frederik IX, who was crowned in 1947, and Queen Ingrid, a native princess of Sweden. She has two sisters: Princess Benedikte and Princess Anne-Marie, who was the last Queen of Greece by marriage.

The Danish Royal Family Margrethe II.
The Danish monarch Margrethe II. © Per Morten Abrahamsen, Kongehuset

Although she was her father’s eldest child at the time of her coronation, Margrethe only became crown princess in 1953 following an amendment to the Danish constitution, which made female succession to the throne possible. This made her Denmark’s first crowned queen and, from the death of Elizabeth II until her abdication, she was the world’s longest-serving female head of state.

In 1967, Margrethe married the French diplomat Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, who was henceforth known as Prince Henrik of Denmark. The marriage produced two sons, Frederik and Joachim. Prince Henrik died in 2018, one year after the couple’s golden wedding anniversary.

In addition to her duties as head of state, Queen Margrethe was also active as a graphic artist and painter. For example, she designed stamps, theatre costumes and stage sets, and illustrated numerous books, including the Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings. She lives in the castles of Amalienborg and Fredensborg in and outside Copenhagen respectively.

In her New Year’s Eve speech on 31 December 2023, Queen Margrethe announced that she would abdicate on 14 January 2024 – exactly 52 years after her accession to the throne. This is unique in Denmark’s long history – no monarch had ever abdicated before. Even after her abdication, she will still bear the honorary title Queen Margrethe and will continue to be addressed as Majesty.

Crown Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine

Crown Prince Christian of Denmark (*2006) is the eldest son of the King and Queen and is first in line to the Danish. His godparents include Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.

Princess Isabella (*2007) was born one year after Christian, making her second in line to the throne. Frederik and Mary’s two youngest children are twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine (*2011). They are the first members of the Danish royal family to have Greenlandic first names: Minik and Ivalo.

Danish Royal Family Prince Christian Princess Isabella Prince Vincent Princess Josephine
The Crown Prince and Princess with their children Isabella, Vincent, Josephine and Christian (from left to right) © Hasse Nielsen, Kongehuset

Prince Joachim and Princess Marie

Prince Joachim (*1969) is the second and younger son of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik. He is 5th in line to the Danish throne behind his brother’s children. Joachim studied agricultural sciences and, like his brother, went through the Danish military. He also works as a military attaché at various Danish embassies.

in 1995, Prince Joachim married economist Alexandra Manley (*1964). The marriage produced their sons Nikolai (*1999) and Felix (*2002). The couple divorced in 2005; Alexandra retained her title of Countess of Frederiksborg and shares custody of her two sons with Joachim.

Danish Royal Family Prince Joachim Princess Marie
Prince Joachim and Princess Marie with their family © Emmanuel Aguirre, Kongehuset

Prince Joachim has been married to French Marie Cavalier (*1976) since 2008. Like her sister-in-law Mary, Princess Marie worked in marketing and PR. They have two children together, Henrik (*2009) and Athena (*2012). They currently live in Washington D.C., USA, where Joachim works in the Danish Embassy.

Prince Joachim’s family hit the headlines in 2022 when Queen Margrethe announced that Joachim’s children would be stripped of their titles “Prince/Princess” and Highness”. This was not only intended to reduce the size of the royal family, but also to give the children a chance for a professional future outside the royal family. The fact that this decision was taken without consulting those affected led to criticism.

In addition to the Danish titles, Prince Henrik’s sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren also bear the titles Count/Countess of Monpezat. Prince Joachim’s children also continue to bear these titles.

The Royal Palace of Amalienborg in Copenhagen

The official residence and current home of King Frederik and his family is Amalienborg Palace in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The palace complex consists of four almost identical palaces, which are arranged around the octagonal Amalienborg Palace Square and were built between 1750 and 1760. In the immediate vicinity are Frederik’s Church and – on the other side of the harbour basin – the Royal Opera House.

The four palaces are used for different purposes. Schack’s Palace is the former Queen’s winter residence, while the Crown Prince’s family lives in Brockdorff’s Palace. Moltke’s Palace serves as a guest house for the royal family, but can also be visited. In addition to Prince Joachim’s flat, Levetzau’s Palace also houses a museum about the Danish royal family. You can also watch the changing of the guard every day at noon when the royal family is present.

Amalienborg in Copenhagen
Amalienborg Palace consists of four palaces and is located in the centre of Copenhagen.
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