Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has apologised to the members of her family who were left “saddened” by her decision to strip four of her grandchildren of their royal titles.
The monarch’s decision was first announced in a statement shared by the royal palace last week, in which it was revealed that the children of the Queen’s second son, Prince Joachim, would no longer have prince or princess titles, nor His/Her Highness titles.
The ruling will impact the Queen’s grandchildren Prince Nikolai, 23, Prince Felix, 20, Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, 10, who, from 1 January 2023, will instead go by their titles of Count and Countess of Monpezat.
The announcement sent shockwaves through the Danish royal family, with the Queen’s son Joachim, her former daughter-in-law, and one of her grandsons expressing their hurt over the decision.
In response to her family’s publicised grief, Queen Margrethe issued a second statement through the palace on Monday, in which she acknowledged that their reactions have affected her, but explained that her choice “has been a long time coming”.
“In recent days, 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,” she wrote. “My decision has been a long time coming. With my 50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times.
“Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment.”
The Queen then addressed the logistics of her decision, as she explained “holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family”.
According to the Danish ruler, the decision to adjust the size of the royal family was one that she viewed as a “necessary future-proofing of the monarchy”. The monarch’s comments come after she revealed in her previous statement that the ruling was “in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years”.
In the statement released on Monday, the Queen went on to acknowledge that, while she made her decision as “Queen, mother and grandmother,” she “underestimated” the hurt it would cause as a “grandmother and a mother”.
“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,” she wrote. “That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.”
The Queen concluded the statement assuring the public and the members of her family hurt by her decision that her “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,” she wrote.
The statement comes after the Queen’s son Joachim, 53, revealed in an interview on Saturday that he had not spoken to his mother, his brother Crown Prince Frederik or his sister-in-law Crown Princess Mary, since the palace’s announcement.
While speaking to Danish outlet BT, Joachim said that his mother had “unfortunately” not spoken to him since the news was announced, while his wife, Princess Marie, claimed that the family dynamic was “complicated”.
Marie, who shares son Prince Henrik, 13, and daughter Princess Athena, 10, with Joachim, also said that the couple wished they had had time to “talk about it” with their family. Prince Joachim shares sons Prince Nikolai, 23, and Prince Felix, 20, with his first wife, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg.
“The reality must still be: whether you modernise or slim down, it must be done in a proper way,” Joachim told the newspaper Saturday. “It’s about children. Orderliness and children. It is a very heavy matter.”
Joachim’s comments come after he claimed last week that his mother had “mistreated” his children with the ruling.
“We are all very sad. It’s never fun to see your children being mistreated like that,” he told the national newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “They find themselves in a situation they do not understand.”
The prince also alleged that he had been given just “five days’ notice” about his mother’s intention, as he said it differed from a similar plan he had been presented in May.
Following the monarch’s decision, her grandson Nikolai expressed sentiments similar to his father’s, with the 23-year-old royal telling Ekstra Bladet that the siblings are “very sad” about the change.
“We are, as my parents have also stated, in shock at this decision and at how quickly it has actually gone,” Nikolai said. “I am very confused as to why it has to happen like this.”
In her initial statement, the Queen expressed her hope that the change would allow her grandchildren in question to “shape their own lives to a much greater extent”.
“With her decision, Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves,” the statement read.
The Queen also told reporters that she had been mulling over the change for some time, and believed it would be in the best interest for her grandchildren.
“It is a consideration I have had for quite a long time and I think it will be good for them in their future. That is the reason,” she said, according to Hello Magazine. When the Queen was asked if the ruling was for the “sake” of her grandchildren, she replied: “Yes, of course.”
While the titles held by Nikolai, Felix, Henrik and Athena will be “discontinued,” they will maintain their places in the order of succession. They are currently seventh through 10th in the line of succession.
The decision will not impact the four children of Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary: Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 15, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, 11, who will continue to hold royal titles.