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Queen Margrethe strips grandchildren's royal titles - what it means for King Charles and his family

The shake-up of titles will take place on 1 January 2023

queen margrethe king charles family
Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
30 September 2022
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Queen Margrethe sent shockwaves through the Danish royal family earlier this week when she made the bold decision to strip four of her grandchildren of their royal titles.

MORE: Denmark's Prince Nikolai breaks silence after losing royal title

As of 1 January, the Queen has ruled that Prince Nikolai, 23, Prince Felix, 20, Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, ten, will have their royal titles removed. She added that the royal children will instead be styled as Count/Countess of Monpezat.

WATCH: Royal family's line of succession

The Danish Royal Court said in the statement that "The Queen's decision is in line with similar adaptations that other royal houses have implemented in different ways in recent years."

READ: Royal family makes major change – and it affects Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

RELATED: Revealed: Why Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana don't have a royal title on palace website yet

The Queen, who has reigned for over 50 years, has nonetheless confirmed that all four royal children will maintain their places in the order of succession.

queen margrethe grandchildren© Photo: Getty Images

Queen Margrethe posing with her son Prince Joachim and his family

Upset by the news, Margrethe's second son Prince Joachim said: "We are all very sad... It's never fun to see your children being mistreated like that. They find themselves in a situation they do not understand."

He added: "In May, I was presented with a plan, which basically stated that when the children each turned 25, it would happen. Athena turns 11 in January."

Speaking to Danish media, the mother of Prince Joachim's two eldest sons also said she was "shocked" by the decision.

"This came from out of the blue. The children feel excluded," Countess Alexandra told the Daily BT. "They can’t understand why their identity is being taken from them."

king charles and prince harry© Photo: Getty Images

It was thought that King Charles would make an announcement regarding Archie and Lili's titles once the mourning period was over

The team at HELLO! have spoken to a trio of royal experts in a bid to further unpack the topic and examine the potential ripple effect this may have on the British royal family.

Royal biographer Christopher Wilson argues that Queen Margrethe's announcement is very much in keeping with Europe's evolving royal family landscape.

"All European royal courts compare notes on a regular basis - either courtier-to-courtier, or principal-to-principal. It makes sense to do so, since they all face a common problem - remaining relevant in a fast-changing world."

queen charles eugenie and beatrice© Photo: Getty Images

Could Princess Beatrice and Eugenie lose their titles?

When asked if Charles is likely to follow the European trend, Christopher added: "King Charles would have been made aware of these changes in the Swedish and Danish courts ahead of time, as a courtesy, but any decisions he takes about his own grandchildren's titles will be based on local issues surrounding the House of Windsor, without being influenced by the actions of other royal houses."

Royal historian Marlene Koenig has adopted a similar stance, insisting that “there have been signs of this for a long time”. There is a greater need for monarchies to "focus on the few," she argued, referencing The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Norway, all of whom have slimmed down their respective monarchies.

Speculating King Charles' next step, Marlene believes there will be a "bombshell announcement" in the form of a new letters patent. "The new letters patent will be the children of the sovereign, the children of the heir or heiress apparent and the children of the eldest child of the heir apparent," she explained.

harry and meghan tour© Photo: Getty Images

King Charles will likely make a 'bombshell announcement' before Christmas

HELLO!'s online royal editor, Danielle Stacey, explained that she believed a decision surrounding the titles for Harry and Meghan's children would have happened while they were in the country following the death of the Queen, and that "we will know the outcome of this before the coronation".

She added that a "further announcement" around royal titles might happen, but that it wouldn't have been spurred on by what happened in Denmark.

The decisions around this are likely to affect Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's children, Archie and Lilibet, however, it could also potentially have an effect on Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

There was division over whether the two Princesses might lose their titles, with Marlene explaining that it was decided back in the 90s that they would never be working royals, and how the Way Ahead campaign of that decade prompted a slimming down of the royal family, leading to the children of Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex to be stylised as the children of an Earl.

royal family balcony© Photo: Getty Images

King Charles wants to 'slim down' the monarchy

She speculated that a move was likely, and could be seen to steady the ship if Archie and Lilibet were stripped of their royal titles. Marlene explained: "If you’re going to have uniformity, then you have to make some sacrifices."

However, she ultimately believes that it would fit into what Harry and Meghan had wanted for their children initially, with them refusing the title of Earl of Dumbarton, which was originally offered to Archie.

"They live in America. You can’t put it in your passport. It’s an antithesis to the life they want to lead," Marlene said. "They left the royal family. They themselves lost the use of HRH title. It goes against their American life. Why put that burden on their children when their children are going to be going to American schools, growing up with an American accent, looking at the world through American eyes. What’s the point of it?"

However, Christopher disagreed and said that King Charles would be conscious of the Queen's "great affection" for her granddaughters and that he would also be reluctant to "inflict too great an injury on the House of York" as he attempts to prevent Prince Andrew from returning to full royal duties.

The biographer also shared how removing the HRH titles from Archie and Lilibet won't be an easy decision due to the strained "relations between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and 'royal central'" which could make the move look "vindictive" to members of the public.

Danielle also highlighted difficulties for the King on this front, but from a logistical standpoint. "In terms of extended members of the royal family, King Charles cannot remove HRH styles, as this would require an act of parliament," she explained. "The last time this happened was in 1917 when King George V passed the Titles Deprivation Act to remove the British peerage titles of several German royals during the First World War."

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