Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is speaking out following her decision to strip four of her eight grandchildren of their royal titles. The Danish royal house was swept up in public controversy in September when the 82-year-old monarch, Europe's only ruling female monarch following Queen Elizabeth II's death, announced the children of Prince Joachim, her second son – Nikolai, 23, Felix, 20, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10 – will lose their prince and princess as well as "His/Her Highness" titles starting on January 1, 2023.
Amid public and familial backlash to the decision, the Queen issued a public apology on Tuesday acknowledging that "there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim's four children. That affects me, of course." According to Her Majesty, the decision to strip her four grandchildren of their titles "has been a long time coming," and with her "50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead." The Queen said, via the Danish palace statement, that it is her "duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times," and this sometimes "means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment." She added that she made the "adjustment," which she called "a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy," in order to allow her grandchildren to lead more normal lives, as "holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family.
Queen Margrethe's Majesty's decision to strip her four grandchildren of their titles, however, has not settled well with members of Denmark's royal family. Joachim and Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, his first wife and mother to his two eldest sons, have both said they were surprised by the decision, with Joachim telling Ekstra Bladet that he was "given five days' notice" of the decision. Alexandra added in a statement from her press advisor Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen that "the children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them."
"I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected. That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry," Margrethe said. "No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation."
Nikolai and Felix are the sons of Prince Joachim and his first wife, Alexandra, with Joachim sharing Henrik and Athena with Princess Marie, whom he married in 2008. Crown Prince Frederik, Margrethe's oldest child, is heir to the throne, with his 16-year-old son Prince Christian next in line, followed by Princess Isabella, 15, and 11-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine. All of Frederik's children will remain part of the Danish royal house and maintain their prince and princess titles.