After the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (born in April 1940) becomes the longest reigning hereditary monarch in the World. She is the granddaughter of King Christian II of Denmark.
The Danish Monarchy during World War II
The Danish monarchy was put the test during World War II, when the country was occupied by German invaders. King Christian insisted on riding his horse daily through the streets of Copenhagen throughout the WWII Nazi Occupation, often wearing a yellow star band, as imposed on Danish Jews, unimpeded and determined to show resistance to the Occupation and Nazi anti-Jewish oppression and to give heart to his people.
Hitler even sent a letter of congratulation to King Christian on his 70th birthday in September 1942 to which the King’s response was a terse “My best thanks.” In such a small country of less than 4 million at the time compared to nearly 9.5 million in London alone today, it’s remarkable that an estimated 6 600 Danes perished, including civilians; more than 1 000 sailors killed in German submarine attacks and more than 750 resistance fighters.
The Danish Queen and the people
Queen Margrethe II is ‘much admired’ as a ‘talented artist’ and, according to a Danish friend, has a ‘natural closeness… to mixing with ordinary people.’ The Danes turn up ‘in large numbers’ for ‘traditional events such as weddings and royal birthdays.’ Otherwise ‘avidly watched on TV.’
But there are issues in Denmark, just as there are here. According to some Danes, “the royal family is an irrelevance and very costly for tax payers.” And, conversely, more of in the UK what is said here – “forgetting what a pull for tourists to visit a country with palaces, finely turned-out soldiers marching daily like the changing of the guard.” The Danish Army still do daily marches through the centre of Copenhagen and buses fly the Danish flag on the Queen’s birthday.
Death of a queen
Says another Danish friend, “My family have talked a lot to my grandchildren aged 10, 8, and 4 about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and how the new King Charles III will take over. They have found it a very natural and useful way to explain the meaning of death before it one day becomes closer to themselves.” And we might imagine the eventual passing of Margrethe II might have a similar impact, albeit on a much smaller scale in her own nation.
New Carolingian era
So, what now in our new ‘Carolingian’ era? Charlemagne was arguably the first ‘European’ but he was not exactly a diplomatic ruler. In contrast, his ultimate namesake, Charles III, is just that and more – a true European in descent if not politically or militarily, but seemingly capable of fulfilling the role of the United Kingdom’s supreme diplomat in Europe, the Commonwealth and elsewhere, as did his internationally revered mother (as long as the ink in his favourite pen doesn’t run out as it did recently at Hillsborough!).
It’s fascinating to see and hear children and younger people talking about the late Queen and, indeed, the new King. Protesters against the Monarchy have the right to do so, but the hope must be that they do so intelligently and with respect to the many, many others who support the United Kingdom’s Monarchy – and Constitution, unwritten as it is…
But here, still are the best words spoken as written by Shakespeare, ironically about the passing of the Prince of Denmark: “Such a sight as this becomes the field… And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” (Horatio on the death of Hamlet, Act 5).