The queen of Denmark has announced that she is to abdicate after 52 years on the throne.
The shocking news was announced to the nation in her new year speech, Queen Margrethe II said she would step down on 14 January, the 52nd anniversary of her accession, leaving the throne to her son, Crown Prince Frederik.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed the news and thanked the queen in a statement on Sunday, calling her “the epitome of Denmark.”
“In the new year, Crown Prince Frederik will be proclaimed king. Crown Princess Mary will become queen,” Frederiksen said. “The kingdom will have a new regent and a new royal couple. We can look forward to all of this in the knowledge that they are ready for the responsibility and the task.”
Under Denmark’s Constitution, the royal family has no political power and is barred from involvement in party politics.
Last year, Margarethe stripped four of her eight grandchildren of their titles. The official reason was to allow the four children of her youngest son, Prince Joachim, to live more normal lives, and follows similar moves by other royal families in Europe to slim down their monarchies, the palace said at the time. The queen’s four other grandchildren, born to Crown Prince Frederik retained their titles but when they come of age only the future king, Prince Christian, will receive an appanage, a decision taken in 2016.
Margarethe often walked the streets of Copenhagen virtually unescorted and won the admiration of Danes for her warm manners and for her talents as a linguist and designer.
A keen skier, she was a member of a Danish women’s air force unit as a princess, taking part in judo courses and endurance tests in the snow. Margrethe remained tough even as she grew older. In 2011, at age 70, she visited Danish troops in southern Afghanistan wearing a military jumpsuit.
As monarch, she crisscrossed the country and regularly visited Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, the two semi-independent territories that are part of the Danish Realm and was met everywhere by cheering crowds.