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Denmark's Queen Margrethe II to abdicate after 52 years on the throne

Denmark's Queen Margrethe to step down
Denmark's Queen Margrethe II announces she's stepping down after 52 years on the throne 00:21

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II announced during a New Year's Eve address that she plans to abdicate the throne, allowing for her son, Crown Prince Frederik, to take charge.

The queen said she would step down on Jan. 14, which is the 52nd anniversary of her own accession to the throne on Jan. 14, 1972. Margrethe ascended the throne following the death of her own father, King Frederik IX. In February, the queen underwent a 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.

In Denmark which has a constitutional monarchy, Crown Prince Frederik is heir to the throne. His oldest son, Prince Christian, is next in line, followed by Frederik's three younger children. 

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed the news and thanked the queen in a statement on Sunday, calling her "the epitome of Denmark."

"In the new year, Crown Prince Frederik will be proclaimed king. Crown Princess Mary will become queen," Frederiksen said. "The kingdom will have a new regent and a new royal couple. We can look forward to all of this in the knowledge that they are ready for the responsibility and the task."

Under Denmark's Constitution, the royal family has no political power and is barred from involvement in party politics.

Last year, Margarethe stripped four of her eight grandchildren of their titles. The official reason was to allow the four children of her youngest son, Prince Joachim, to live more normal lives, and follows similar moves by other royal families in Europe to slim down their monarchies, the palace said at the time. The queen's four other grandchildren, born to Crown Prince Frederik retained their titles but when they come of age only the future king, Prince Christian, will receive an appanage, a decision taken in 2016.

Margarethe often walked the streets of Copenhagen virtually unescorted and won the admiration of Danes for her warm manners and for her talents as a linguist and designer.

A keen skier, she was a member of a Danish women's air force unit as a princess, taking part in judo courses and endurance tests in the snow. Margrethe remained tough even as she grew older. In 2011, at age 70, she visited Danish troops in southern Afghanistan wearing a military jumpsuit.

As monarch, she crisscrossed the country and regularly visited Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, the two semi-independent territories that are part of the Danish Realm, and was met everywhere by cheering crowds.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark
Queen Margrethe of Denmark attends a gala dinner at Christiansborg Palace on November 06, 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
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