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Denmark’s Queen steps down, passes crown to son

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Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has taken the world by surprise by announcing her abdication during her traditional New Year’s Eve speech. 

The 83-year-old monarch, who ascended to the throne exactly 52 years ago on January 14, 1972, will formally step down, paving the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik, to become Frederik X.

The unexpected decision comes as Queen Margrethe reflects on her recent back surgery at the beginning of the year, prompting thoughts about the future and whether the time has come to entrust the responsibilities to the next generation. 

In her New Year’s speech, she stated, “I have decided that now is the right time. On 14 January – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as queen of Denmark. I leave the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik.”

Queen Margrethe, the daughter of Denmark’s former monarch King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid, succeeded her father in 1972 and became Europe’s longest-serving monarch after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. She holds the unique distinction of being the world’s only queen regnant.

The announcement comes amidst challenges in Queen Margrethe’s personal life, including extensive back surgery earlier in the year and the loss of her husband of 50 years, Prince Henrik, in 2018, following a diagnosis of dementia. 

Additionally, she made headlines in September the previous year after stripping four of her grandchildren of their royal titles, a move in line with other European monarchies aiming to streamline their royal families.

The surprising abdication has left the nation in shock, with Jesper Steinmetz, the European correspondent for TV 2 Denmark, describing it as a “total surprise.” 

The Queen’s recent health struggles and a recognition of diminished energy levels since the death of her husband are cited as contributing factors to her decision.

Queen Margrethe’s reign, marked by various milestones and challenges, will officially come to an end on January 14, signaling a historic transition in Denmark’s monarchy.

 

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