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kingdom of denmark

The world's oldest monarchy

The Danish monarchy is the oldest continuing line in the world. Queen Margrethe II's heritage can be traced back more than a thousand years to a king believed to be born around year 900.

Queen Margrethe II (born 1940), has been Denmark's reigning monarch since 1972. Her son Crown Prince Frederik (born 1968) will be the next one to succeed to the throne, part of a line that reaches all the way back to Gorm the Old (believed to be born around year 900) and Harald Bluetooth (born around 940). Prince Frederik's son Christian (born 2005) will continue the line into the future. 

The Danish monarchy today

Today's Danish monarchy doesn't spend a lot of time on pomp or circumstance. The children of the Royal Family attend ordinary public schools, and the adult members of the family are often seen shopping, dining, or riding their bicycles in public just like any other Dane.

But the Royal Family plays an important symbolic role, both at home and abroad. In Denmark, they promote good causes and welcome foreign heads of state at glittering state dinners. They visit Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Outside of the country, they head delegations that promote Danish products and Danish businesses.

The Danish monarch has a limited role in the government of Denmark under the Danish constitution. After a national election, the new coalition of ruling parties presents a government for the monarch's approval, upon which time she officially appoints the new regime. The monarch also formally approves each new law passed by the Danish parliament, the Folketing, including the ceremonial approval of each new Danish citizen. 

Danish Majesty Queen Margrethe
HM Queen Margrethe ll. Photo: Torben Eskelund

Famous Danish monarchs

Since 1513, male Danish monarchs have been named either Christian or Frederik. The two names alternate, with a father named Christian generally naming his oldest son Frederik and vice versa.

Among the most famous Danish monarchs during that period have been Christian IV (1588-1648), an innovator and builder whose works are still visible throughout Copenhagen, and Christian VII (1766-1808), whose struggle with mental illness was the basis for the Oscar-nominated movie A Royal Affair (2012).

King Christian X (1912-1947), the grandfather of the current queen, was widely admired for his dignified behaviour during the Nazi occupation of Denmark during World War II. He rode his horse daily through the streets of Copenhagen without a bodyguard as a symbol of resistance and took steps to save Danish Jews from persecution. 

Queen Margrethe II is the first female monarch of Denmark since Queen Margrethe I (1376-1412). But more female monarchs are likely in the future, after a 2009 referendum in which Danes decided girls should be on equal footing when it comes to the line of succession. The oldest child in each monarch's family will now be the presumptive next monarch, whether that child is a boy or a girl.

The Danish Queen's castles 

The Danish Royal Family has nine castles around the country, but their main residence is  Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen, where both Queen Margrethe II and Crown Prince Frederik's young family spend much of their time. Built in 1750 in the rococo style, the waterfront castle consists of four noble buildings surrounding an octagonal courtyard. On the Queen's Birthday, thousands of Danes visit Amalienborg to wave the Danish flag and wish her a happy day.  

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace is a popular tourist attraction in Copenhagen. Every day at 11:30, the Queen's Royal Bodyguards, the Livgarden, march from their nearby barracks to the Palace, where at noon they relieve the guards on duty. The Danish palace guards' uniforms are similar to those of the famous British palace guards, but the Danes wear red only for ceremonial occasions. On a daily basis, they wear dark blue. 

The Royal Crown Jewels are on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, the only place in the world where actively used crown jewels are on display to the public. 

Crown prins Frederik
HRH Crown Prince Frederik. Photo: Franne Voigt.

Did you know

The wireless technology Bluetooth is named after King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark (958-985). 

A Queen of many interests

Queen Margrethe II is very popular and widely respected for her artistic abilities. She has held public showings of her watercolours and textiles and has provided scenography for several theatrical productions in Denmark. 

Crown Prince Frederik holds a masters degree in political science. He studied international relations at Harvard University, served at the Danish missions at the UN in New York and the Danish Embassy in Paris, and has undergone an extensive military education.

The Crown Prince is passionate about sports and has been a member of The International Olympic Committee since 2009. He met his wife, the Australian-born Crown Princess Mary, at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. They have four children.