Skip to content
kingdom of denmark

One of the world's oldest monarchies

The Danish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. King Frederik X's heritage can be traced back more than a thousand years to a king believed to be born around year 900.

The King of Denmark, HM King Frederik X (born 1968), has been the sovereign of Denmark since 14 January 2024. HM the King and HM Queen Mary got married in 2004 in the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen, and since then they have brought four children into the world. Their first born, Crown Prince Christian, will be the next to succeed the throne, part of a line that reaches all the way back to Gorm the Old (born around 900) and Harald Bluetooth (born around year 940).

HM Queen Margrethe ll's abdication 

On New Year's Eve 2023, in her annual live-transmitted New Year's Address, HM Queen Margrethe ll announced her abdication after 52 years as reign monarch. It was the first time in nearly 900 years that a Danish sovereign stepped down voluntarily to make room for the next generation. Her abdication came officially in place on 14 January 2024 at a Council of State at Christiansborg Palace, where after King Frederik X was proclaimed as the new sovereign at the balcony of Christiansborg Palace in front of ten thousands of people. 

HM Queen Margrethe ll still holds the title 'Queen'.

A Royal Couple with popular appeal

The Royal Couple is very popular in Denmark. HM King Frederik X is passionate about sports and has been a member of The International Olympic Committee from 2009 until 2021. He met his wife, the Australian-born HM Queen Mary, at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Each year, HM King Frederik X invites all Danes to take part in the community running effort, Royal Run. With more than 90.000 participants, Royal Run is one of the biggest running events in Denmark’s history. Moreover, the King has been engaged in bringing focus on Denmark’s role as a leading nation in green transformation. 

HM King Frederik X holds a master’s degree in Political Science. He studied International Relations at Harvard University, served at the Danish missions at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York and the Danish Embassy in Paris, and furthermore he has undergone an extensive military education. In 2000, he took part in “Expedition Sirius 2000”, a four-month and 2795 km dog-sled expedition in the northern part of Greenland. 

Her Majesty Queen Mary (born 1972) studied commerce and law at the University of Tasmania and worked in advertising after her degree. She has been a part of the Danish military since 2008, serving in the Home Guard and participating in several exercises through both Army-, Navy- and Air Home Guard. HM Queen Mary is also widely respected for her extensive social work. She established The Mary Foundation in 2007, which is dedicated to combating social isolation, and their focus areas include bullying, domestic violence, and loneliness.

Crown Prince Christian (born 2005) attends a local high school in Denmark and will graduate in 2024. When he turned 18 in November, 2023, he invited young people from across Denmark to a big royal ball at Amalienborg Palace. His 18th birthday coupled with his new title as Crown Prince means that some official duties will fall upon him when the King and Queen are away.

Danish royal family
Photo: Dennis Stenild, Kongehuset ©

The Danish monarchy today

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. 

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. 

HM Queen Margrethe II (1940-) was 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.

Queen Margrethe II has studied Philosophy, Archaeology, and Political Science at a wide range of universities in Denmark and across Europe, including the University of Cambridge, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the London School of Economics. In addition, she has a strong relation to the Danish Defense, having received comprehensive training in the Women’s Air Force.
The Queen is also 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. 

Read more about HM Queen Margrethe ll.

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

The King's palaces 

The Danish Royal Family has nine palaces around the country, but their main residence is  Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. Built in 1750 in the rococo style, the waterfront palace consists of four noble buildings surrounding an octagonal courtyard. 

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace is a popular tourist attraction in Copenhagen. Every day at 11:30, the King'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. 

Did you know

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