Queen Margrethe II of Denmark announces abdication

Europe's longest-serving monarch said now is the right time 'to leave responsibility to the next generation'

Queen Margrethe II gives a New Year's speech and announces her abdication from Christian IX's Palace, Amalienborg Castle, in Copenhagen, Sunday 31 December 2023. Reuters
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Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, Europe's longest-serving monarch, announced on Sunday that she will abdicate on January 14 after 52 years on the throne.

The queen, 83, will be succeeded by her eldest son Crown Prince Frederik, she said during a surprise announcement on live TV while delivering her traditional New Year's Eve speech.

Ascending the throne in 1972, she became the longest-serving monarch in Europe following the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

In February, she underwent successful back surgery.

“The surgery naturally gave rise to thinking about the future – whether the time had come to leave the responsibility to the next generation,” she said.

“I have decided that now is the right time. On January 14, 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as queen of Denmark,” she said.

“I leave the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik,” she said.

In Denmark, formal power resides with the elected parliament and its government. The monarch is expected to stay above partisan politics, representing the nation with traditional duties ranging from state visits to national day celebrations.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen thanked the queen for her dedication to duty.

“It is still difficult to understand that the time has now come for a change of throne,” Ms Frederiksen said, adding that many Danes had not known another monarch.

“Queen Margrethe is the epitome of Denmark and throughout the years has put words and feelings into who we are as a people and as a nation,” she said.

Born in 1940, Margrethe has throughout her life enjoyed broad support from Danes, who are fond of her tactful and yet creative personality.

Updated: January 01, 2024, 3:27 AM