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Meet Denmark's New King And Queen

Updated: Jan 27

On New Year's Eve, Queen Margrethe II stunned her nation when she announced that she would abdicate the throne after reigning for 52 years, citing health reasons - becoming the first Danish monarch in nearly 900 years to voluntarily relinquish the throne.

King and Queen of Denmark

On Sunday, in the Danish parliament, her eldest son became king and his Australian-born wife became queen. As the succession took place, thousands of people from all over Denmark converged on the capital in a sign of the huge popularity the monarchy is enjoying.

The new king, whose full name is Frederik André Henrik Christian, was born in 1968, as the first child of Margrethe and her husband, Prince Henrik, who died in 2018. Shy and reserved as a child, Frederik felt uneasy about the idea of ascending the throne, and the intense attention and scrutiny that came with it. In a 1996 interview with Berlingske Tidende, the crown prince said that in his teens he sometimes wondered whether he could escape his fate.

“I thought it was too uncomfortable,” Frederik said. “You knew you were going to be so public, so known, so accessible to everyone and so depicted. I didn’t like that.”

As an adult he grew more comfortable with his position as heir to the throne and prepared himself for it. Frederik, who in addition to Danish speaks English, French and German, graduated from Aarhus University with a master’s degree in political science.

He trained in all three branches of the Danish Armed Forces, including as a frogman in an elite naval unit. He learned about diplomacy during postings at the Danish Embassy in Paris and at Denmark’s United Nations mission in New York. Like Britain’s King Charles III, he has shown a special interest in climate change and other environmental issues.

At home in Denmark, Frederik is known for being informal and down-to-earth. Even though he attended official functions in medal-studded uniforms, he was occasionally seen blending in with the crowds riding a bicycle with his bodyguards in tow or high-fiving teenagers.

Frederick (now King Frederik X) is an athlete who has participated in six marathons, one Ironman triathlon and a dog-sled expedition in northern Greenland. For several years he was Denmark’s member of the International Olympic Committee. He's also a decorated military officer and rock music fan. Frederik has a more informal style than his mother, but is equally popular in the Nordic country.

Like many of his contemporaries in Europe’s royal houses, Frederik found his spouse outside the narrow confines of the aristocracy. He met Australian-born Mary Donaldson, the daughter of Scottish immigrants, in a bar during the Sydney Olympics in 2000. They married four years later and now have four children: Prince Christian, 18; Princess Isabella, 16; and 13-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

Mary is now queen of Denmark. Her unlikely journey from the island of Tasmania to become the world’s first Australian-born queen on the other side of the world has captivated Danes and Australians alike.

Mary, now aged 52, began schooling at Clear Lake City Elementary School in Houston, Texas in 1974, when her father, a professor of applied mathematics, worked at the Johnson Space Center. The family then moved to Tasmania a couple of years later, and she went on to study at the University of Tasmania, graduating with a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws degree. Five years later she met her prince in a bar in Sydney.

After moving to Denmark and prior to her marriage, Donaldson studied Danish as a foreign language at Studieskolen in Copenhagen. When Frederik turned 50, Mary praised her husband in a witty and romantic speech in fluent Danish. “You have always pushed the boundaries, and you have insisted on shaping the world around you to fit the person and have not allowed the structures in that world to define you,” Mary said.


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