The death of Henrik, Prince Consort, on 13 February, might prompt speculation that his widow, the much-admired Queen Margrethe, might abdicate. The Danish monarchy is the oldest in Europe, traceable over 1000 years to the Vikings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth. The Oldenburgs ruled from the mid-1400s and then, from 1863, the Glücksborgs, after Christian IX married an Oldenburg niece. In 2012 Margrethe marked her ruby anniversary as Queen and, with her heir Crown Prince Frederik, by then a settled father of four in his mid-forties (with Mary at his side), some felt him ready to reign. But - in a statement that must have been warmly welcomed by her cousin Elizabeth across the North Sea - Margrethe stated ‘You are handed your job as the old King or Queen dies. It is not a life sentence but a Life of service’. She too is Head of her national Church and the armed forces so she can be seen not just as the mother of Denmark but (as the author of The Great Survivors (2012), Peter Conradi, says) as ‘it’s very embodiment’. Ramrod straight (and given to straight-talking) with a swanlike neck and strong Nordic face that easily and often breaks into a smile, her affection for vivid colours is as marked as her commitment to tolerance and to her people. A dutiful, dazzling sovereign. The Danes are blessed.
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