In a new statement released by the palace on Monday, the Danish monarch said she "underestimated" how the news would affect her second son, Prince Joachim, and his four children, who are set to lose their prince and princess as well as "His/Her Highness" titles next year. Nikolai, 23, Felix, 20, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10, will retain their places in the line of succession but will be known instead by His Excellency Count of Monpezat or Her Excellency Countess of Monpezat.
Queen Margrethe, 82, started her statement, "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."
"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," she continued. "Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family. This adjustment, which I view as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy, I want to take in my own time."
Luca Teuchmann/Getty Queen Margrethe with her grandchildren in 2016
"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," she concluded. "I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation."
Steffi Loos/Getty Queen Margrethe II
Prince Joachim, 53 — as well as his first wife and mother to his two eldest sons, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, and current wife and mother to his two younger children, Princess Marie — have said they were surprised by the announcement of the title change. He told Danish out Ekstra Bladet that he was "given five days' notice" of the decision.
"We are all confused by the decision. We are saddened and in shock," Alexandra said in a statement from her press advisor Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen, according to Danish magazine Se og Hør. "This comes like a bolt from the blue. The children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them."
Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Queen Margrethe with Prince Joachim and his family
Prince Nikolai, the Queen's eldest grandchild, said he was "very sad" and "confused" by the news.
"My whole family and I are, of course, very sad," he told Ekstra Bladet. "We are, as my parents have also stated, in shock at this decision and at how quickly it has actually gone." He added, "I am very confused as to why it has to happen like this."
Over the weekend, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie spoke to Danish outlet B.T., revealing they hadn't been in contact with Queen Margrethe — or his brother Prince Frederik and sister-in-law Princess Mary — since the decision was publicly shared.
MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Prince Felix, Princess Marie, Prince Joachim, Princess Athena, Prince Henrik and Prince Nikolai
In the original announcement, the Danish palace noted that "the Queen's decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years." Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf announced in October 2019 that the children of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill as well as Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia would no longer be official members of the royal house. They retained their titles of prince or princess, but the titles became personal and any future spouses or children will not have a right to them.
The decision does not affect the four children of Crown Prince Frederik, who is heir to the throne, with his wife, Crown Princess Mary. Unlike their cousins, Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 15, and 11-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine will both continue to be part of the royal house — at least for now.
Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Prince Vincent, Crown Prince Frederik, Princess Isabella, Queen Margrethe, Prince Christian, Princess Josephine and Crown Princess Mary
Princess Mary said last week that while Prince Christian is set to become monarch someday, title changes may be made for her younger children.
"We will also look at our children's titles when the time comes," she said. "Today we do not know what the royal house will look like in Christian's time, or when Christian's time begins to approach."