This week, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark decided to strip four of her grandchildren of their royal titles. Their father, Prince Joachim, did not take well to the unexpected news and felt this quartet of children, gained by two different marriages, had been treated unfairly.
In a September 28th press release from the Royal House, Queen Margrethe of Denmark (82)—after Queen Elizabeth II’s death—now the longest-reigning European monarch as well as its sole queen, announced that “as of 1 January 2023,” her son’s descendants “can only use their titles as counts and countesses of Monpezat.” Their titles of prince and princess, which they had held up until now “will be discontinued.”
With her decision, the regent “wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves.” The announcement concluded that they, however, still “maintain their places in the order of succession.”
Asked for comment by Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet outside the Danish embassy in Paris on September 29th, a visibly moved Prince Joachim responded that his family “are all very sad,” and that “it is never pleasant seeing your children being treated unfairly. They are in a situation they don’t understand.”
He added that he was notified of the decision just five days ago, and had previously been under the impression that his children’s titles would only be removed when they, now ranging in age from 10 to 23, turned 25.
Prince Joachim is sixth in line for the throne of Denmark. His brother, Crown Prince Frederik, who is first in line, also has four children—for them, nothing changes, as they are allowed to keep their titles. The matter of succession therefore remains entirely unaffected.
Joachim’s ex-wife, and mother to his two eldest boys, also voiced confusion over the sudden decision. “We are saddened and in shock,” Alexandra, countess of Frederiksborg, told the magazine Se og Hør. “This comes like a bolt from the blue. The children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them.”
In a comment to CNN, Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen, press secretary to the countess, said her employer could not believe why the decision had been made now, as the children “would lose their titles anyway when they get married one day. Her sons are young men so maybe they might get married in the near future so why shouldn’t it wait until that day so that the titles would disappear on a happy day?” she said.
Margrethe, meanwhile, is doubling down. To reporters, she said she thought “it will be good for them in their future.” Yet, clearly, her latest move has left the mother-son relationship considerably strained, as he said to Ekstra Bladet, when asked about it, that he did not believe he would need to elaborate on that.
On Wednesday evening, that same publication accosted Queen Margrethe outside the National Museum in Copenhagen. When the question was put to her about how she felt about her decision causing distress to her grandchildren, the monarch noticeably struggled to give a coherent reply.
The Danish royal family has been wanting to slim down the monarchy for some time. Only some years ago, it was announced that in the future only the firstborn of the heirs to the throne will receive the title of prince or princess.
In its press release, it stated that “the Queen’s decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years.” In the Netherlands, for example, the title prince or princess is not self-evident; Eloise, the daughter of Prince Constantine, is a countess.
A similar practice is observable within the British Royal House. Harry and Meghan—who, as part of an attempt to divest themselves of the responsibility that being part of a royal dynasty brings, sought hotter climes in California—are known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
At the moment, Archie and Lilibet, Harry and Meghan’s children, are going through life as prince and princess, but under a King Charles III regency (which is unlikely to look kindly on their wayward parents), that could possibly soon change.