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The real reason Queen Margrethe of Denmark chose to abdicate now

It was a "pragmatic decision" according to one royal author  

Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe wave from balcont
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
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All eyes were on Denmark as Queen Margrethe officially abdicated on Sunday after 52 years on the throne, passing the crown and the throne to her elder son, King Frederik X, and his wife Queen Mary.

And while Margrethe's announcement in her New Year's Day speech came as a total shock to the Danish people and royal watchers around the world, it was a "very pragmatic" decision from the no-nonsense monarch, says royal author and Editor-at-Large of The Australian Women's Weekly, Juliet Rieden.

"It definitely came out of the blue," Juliet told HELLO!. "But I think she's a very pragmatic Queen. She saw the popularity of Frederik and Mary. She saw the vitality that they could give to the monarchy moving forward. And their eldest son Crown Prince Christian has just turned 18 and is clearly very serious about the role of heir. So, everything is in place.

Queen Margrethe II standing behind her son King Frederik X of Denmark © Getty
"I think she's a very pragmatic Queen. She saw the popularity of Frederik and Mary," said Juliet

The full interview with Juliet can be found on The HELLO! Royal Club – sign up to become a member to read the complete feature.

"Margrethe will, of course, still be there guiding them all. But I think she had in her mind that Frederik and Mary were ready to take the throne, and Mary gave stability to the possibility of Frederik becoming king early."

Juliet continued: "The Danish royal family is probably the most popular monarchy around the world, and Mary's part in that has been instrumental. I think for Denmark, it's an incredible gift to have her and I think they know that."

King Frederik and Queen Mary kiss after proclamation© Getty
"I think she had in her mind that Frederik and Mary were ready to take the throne," said Juliet

Queen Margrethe had always publicly said that she would reign for as long as she could. In 2012, on her 40th anniversary as Queen, she famously said: "I will remain on the throne until I drop." 

But in February of last year, the Danish monarch underwent "extensive" back surgery which required a long recovery, during which time her son Frederik took over her royal duties. And in her abdication announcement, she alluded to her surgery influencing her decision to step down.

Queen Mary seen behind-the-scenes as Frederik is proclaimed King:

On Sunday, in a historic day for the royal family, Margrethe signed the formal declaration ending her 52-year reign at 2pm local time. Teary-eyed, she then stood up from her chair and declared: "God Save The King!" Her son Frederik then took her place at the table before heading to the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, where he was declared King Frederik X by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

The new king was joined by his wife, Queen Mary, and the couple's four children: Crown Prince Christian, the new Danish heir, Princess Isabella, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

Juliet's interview first appeared on The HELLO! Royal Club on Substack. To read the full interview about how the new Queen Mary is a "gift" to Denmark, sign up to become a member of our club – a place where we deliver the best in royal journalism without the adverts.

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