Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has apologized for upsetting members of her family with her announcement last week that she was stripping four of her grandchildren of their royal titles, but she did not back down from her decision.
In a statement released on Monday, Margrethe, 82, noted that “there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim’s four children.”
On Sept. 28, the palace announced that, as of Jan. 1, the four children of Margrethe’s youngest son, Prince Joachim, would no longer carry the titles of prince or princess and would be called count or countess of Monpezat instead. The change affects Prince Nikolai, 23; Prince Felix, 20; Prince Henrik, 13; and Princess Athena, 10, who would keep their places in the line of succession.
Members of her family voiced dismay about the decision, with Prince Joachim telling a Danish tabloid that the family was “very sad,” and that the children had been “mistreated,” The Associated Press reported. Margrethe responded in the statement this week and said that her decision to strip them of their royal titles had “been a long time coming.”
“Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family,” she said. “This adjustment, which I view as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy, I want to take in my own time.”
But she noted that the criticism came as a surprise. “As a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected,” she said. “That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.”
Since Queen Elizabeth II of Britain died last month at 96, Margrethe, also known as Daisy, has become the longest-serving living monarch in Europe. Elizabeth reigned for 70 years. Margrethe has spent 50 years at the helm of one of the oldest monarchies in Europe.
Margrethe, the eldest of three daughters of King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid, entered the line to the throne at age 13, when Denmark made a constitutional change to allow female succession and the king passed over his brother for his daughter.
Margrethe ascended the throne when she was 31, after her father died in January 1972. Of her two sons, Crown Prince Frederik is first in line to succeed her, followed by his oldest son, Prince Christian.
In its announcement last week about the title changes, the royal palace said that Margrethe’s decision “is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years.”
In 2019, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden announced that some of his grandchildren would lose their royal titles.
King Charles III has also pushed to streamline Britain’s royal family, with fewer members performing official duties, drawing from the public purse or generating damaging publicity.
After Prince Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview in 2019, in which he appeared to show little empathy for victims of the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Charles, who was then the Prince of Wales, pressed his mother to strip his brother of his public duties. In January, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Andrew’s “military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” and that he would no longer have any public duties.