Margrethe II (full name: Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid; born April 16, 1940) is Queen of Denmark, as well as the supreme authority of the Church of Denmark and commander-in-chief of the Danish Defence. Born into the House of Glücksburg, a royal house with origins in northern Germany, she was the eldest child of Frederik IX of Denmark and Ingrid of Sweden, was the daughter of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom).
She was born during the reign of her grandfather the then-reigning King Christian X. Her birth took place just one week after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Denmark on April 9, 1940.
She was named Margrethe after her late maternal grandmother, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, Alexandrine after her paternal grandmother, Queen Alexandrine, and Ingrid after her mother. Since her paternal grandfather was also the King of Iceland, she was given the Icelandic name Þórhildur.
When Margrethe was four years old, in 1944, her younger sister Princess Benedikte was born. Princess Benedikte later married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and lives some of the time in Germany. Her second sister, Princess Anne-Marie, was born in 1946. Anne-Marie later married Constantine II of the Hellenes and currently lives in Greece.
At the time of her birth, only males could ascend the throne of Denmark, owing to the changes in succession laws enacted in the 1850s when the Glücksburg branch was chosen to succeed. As she had no brothers, it was assumed that her uncle Prince Knud would one day assume the throne.
The process of changing the constitution started in 1947, not long after her father ascended the throne and it became clear that Queen Ingrid would have no more children. The popularity of Frederik IX and his daughters and the more prominent role of women in Danish life started the complicated process of altering the constitution.
The law required that the proposal be passed by two successive Parliaments and then by a referendum, which occurred March 27, 1953. The new Act of Succession permitted female succession to the throne of Denmark, according to male-preference cognatic primogeniture, where a female can ascend to the throne only if she does not have a brother. Princess Margrethe therefore became heir presumptive.
Margrethe was educated at the private school N. Zahle’s School in Copenhagen from which she graduated in 1959. She spent a year at North Foreland Lodge, a boarding school for girls in Hampshire, England,and later studied prehistoric archaeology at Girton College, Cambridge, during 1960–1961, political science at Aarhus University between 1961 and 1962, attended the Sorbonne in 1963, and was at the London School of Economics in 1965.She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Queen Margrethe is fluent in Danish, French, English, Swedish and German, and has a limited knowledge of Faroese.
Princess Margrethe married a French diplomat, Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, June 10, 1967, at the Holmen Church in Copenhagen. Laborde de Monpezat received the style and title of “His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark” because of his new position as the spouse of the heir presumptive to the Danish throne. They were married for over fifty years, until his death on February 13, 2018.
Shortly after King Frederik IX delivered his New Year’s Address to the Nation at the 1971/72 turn of the year, he fell ill. At his death 14 days later, 14 January 1972, Margrethe succeeded to the throne at the age of 31, becoming the first female Danish sovereign under the new Act of Succession. She was proclaimed Queen from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace 15 January 1972, by Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag. Queen Margrethe II relinquished all the monarch’s former titles except the title to Denmark, hence her style “By the Grace of God, Queen of Denmark”
The Queen’s main tasks are to represent the Kingdom abroad and to be a unifying figure at home. The Queen performs the latter task by accepting invitations to open exhibitions, attending anniversaries, inaugurating bridges, etc. She receives foreign ambassadors and awards honours and medals.
As an unelected public official, the Queen takes no part in party politics and does not express any political opinions. Although she has the right to vote, she opts not to do so to avoid even the appearance of partisanship.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederik and his son, second in line to the throne, Prince Christian.
After an election where the incumbent Prime Minister does not have a majority behind him or her, the Queen holds a “Dronningerunde” (Queen’s meeting) in which she meets the chairmen of each of the Danish political parties. Each party has the choice of selecting a Royal Investigator to lead these negotiations or alternatively, give the incumbent Prime Minister the mandate to continue his government as is.
In theory each party could choose its own leader as Royal Investigator, the social liberal Det Radikale Venstre did so in 2006, but often only one Royal Investigator is chosen plus the Prime Minister, before each election. The leader who, at that meeting succeeds in securing a majority of the seats in the Folketing, is by royal decree charged with the task of forming a new government. (It has never happened in more modern history that any party has held a majority on its own.)
Once the government has been formed, it is formally appointed by the Queen. Officially, it is the Queen who is the head of government, and she therefore presides over the Council of State (privy council), where the acts of legislation which have been passed by the parliament are signed into law. In practice, however, nearly all of the Queen’s formal powers are exercised by the Cabinet of Denmark.
The official residences of the Queen are Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen and Fredensborg Palace. Her summer residence is Gråsten Palace near Sønderborg, the former home of her mother, Queen Ingrid, who died in 2000.
Margrethe is a chain smoker, and she is famous for her tobacco habit. However, on November 23, 2006, the Danish newspaper B.T. reported an announcement from the Royal Court stating that in the future the Queen would smoke only in private.
Margrethe is an accomplished painter, and has held many art shows over the years. Her illustrations—under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer—were used for Danish editions of The Lord of the Rings, which she was encouraged to illustrate in the early 1970s. She sent them to J. R. R. Tolkien who was struck by the similarity of her drawings to his own style.
Margrethe’s drawings were redrawn by the British artist Eric Fraser in the translation published in 1977 and re-issued in 2002. In 2000, she illustrated Henrik, the Prince Consort’s poetry collection Cantabile. She is also an accomplished translator and is said to have participated in the Danish translation of The Lord of the Rings.