Denmark’s King Frederik X ascended the throne on Sunday, succeeding his mother, Queen Margrethe II, who formally abdicated after 52 years as monarch, with big crowds gathered in the capital to witness history.
Margrethe, 83, stunned the nation on New Year’s Eve when she announced she planned to become the first Danish monarch in nearly 900 years to voluntarily relinquish the throne.
The succession was formalized the moment Margrethe signed the declaration of her abdication during a meeting of the Council of State at parliament, the royal palace said. Denmark, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, does not have a coronation.
The meeting was attended by government representatives, Margrethe, Frederik, 55, his Australian-born wife Mary, 51, who is now queen, and their oldest son Christian, 18, who is the new heir to the throne.
About an hour after the signing, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was due to proclaim the new king on the balcony of the parliament and Frederik will give a short speech.
In close to freezing temperatures, tens of thousands of people from all over Denmark converged on the capital to witness events, in a sign of the huge popularity the monarchy is enjoying in the nation of nearly six million.
“We have come here today because this is history being made in front of our eyes. We just had to be here,” said Soren Kristian Bisgaard, 30, a pilot.
He was drinking champagne with three friends, sitting in camping chairs in front of parliament.
“I’m very fond of the royal family. I have been in the Royal Life Guards myself, standing guard at the royal palace. I’m very proud to have done that and also to be here today,” he said.
Later in the afternoon, the new king and queen were due to ride by horse carriage back to their residence, Amalienborg, a royal complex built in the 1750s and located in central Copenhagen.
The couple will continue to reside with Margrethe, who will retain her title as queen, in Amalienborg albeit in their respective palaces in the octagonal complex.
Royal power couple
Margrethe, who in the past had said she would remain on the throne for life, did not give an exact reason for her decision to step down but said that a major back surgery she underwent in February last year had made her consider her future.
“It could be that she thinks Prince Frederik is prepared to take over now,” said Lars Hovbakke Sorensen, a historian and associate professor at University College Absalon in Denmark.
“He’s 55, and maybe the queen wanted to avoid a situation where you would have a very, very old king, as you saw with Prince Charles.” The British king was 73 when he ascended the throne after his mother Queen Elizabeth died in September 2022 aged 96.
The new king and queen take the throne at a time of huge public support and enthusiasm for the monarchy. The most recent survey done after Margrethe announced she would abdicate indicated that 82% of Danes expect Frederik to do well or very well in his new role, while 86% said the same about Mary.