Why the Denmark Royal Family Includes a U.S.-Based Prince

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Jan 23, 2024

The British royal family may wear the most famous crown, but they’re far from the only ones with a messy family drama behind the palace doors. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has recently renounced the throne due to health issues. But who is in Denmark’s royal family?

Known as the oldest monarchy in Europe, there is a lot of drama surrounding Denmark’s royal family, so let’s get into it!

Queen Margrethe Is the Longest Serving Head of State in Europe

The ruling family in Denmark has long been under the reign of Queen Margrethe II, who became the longest-serving head of state in Europe. She was the longest-serving female head of state in the world after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. 

Hendes Majestæt Margrethe II, dronning af Danmark

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Reigning for over 50 years, Queen Margrethe came into power after her father King Frederik IX fell ill and died 14 days after his New Year’s Address to the Nation in 1971/72. She was the first female Danish sovereign under the new Act of Succession. 

What Does Denmark’s Royal Family Do? 

Compared to the U.K., Denmark has a constitutional monarchy that dismisses monarchs and members of the royal family from taking part in politics or independently performing political acts.

English: On the 83th birthday of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark she and the royal family were waving to the public from Amalienborg Palace. Lots of people gathered with flags.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Every act of parliament gets rubber-stamped by the royal, but only after a cabinet minister signs it off first. The royal family can vote or opt out to appear nonpartisan.

Queen Margrethe Steps Away from the Crown

In her 2023 New Year’s Eve speech, Queen Margrethe announced that her eldest son, then-Crown Prince Frederik X, would succeed her as she stepped down from the throne after her spinal surgery in 2023. 

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark smiles during a visit to Brandenburg Gate on September 10, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Queen Margrethe is in Berlin on a two-day visit.

Source: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“I have decided that now is the right time. On 14 January 2024 — 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father — I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I will hand over the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik,” Margrethe said (via Business Insider).

A New Crowned King

While Denmark was shocked by Queen Margrethe’s choice, Frederik was made king on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, according to Hodinkee. Queen Margrethe bore two sons, Frederik and Joachim, with her late husband, Prince Henrik.

Danish King Frederik X and wife Queen Mary of Denmark after his proclamation by the Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. King Frederik X is succeeding Queen Margrethe II, who will be stepping down after reigning for 51 years.

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Between King Frederik X and Prince Joachim, there are eight grandchildren. Among them are no titles, thanks to a controversial decision made by Margrethe. 

Queen Margrethe Takes Away Four of Her Grandchildren’s Titles

In September 2022, Queen Margrethe announced her decision to remove prince and princess titles from all four of Prince Joachim’s children. “It is a consideration I have had for quite a long time,” Margrethe told reporters after the decision was announced. “I think it will be good for them in their future.”

Picture showing Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and her grandsons on her 70th birthday

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The descendants will now be addressed as excellencies, and their cousins will keep their prince and princess titles. The Danish Royal House reported that the queen’s decision is in line with adjustments other royal houses have made in recent years, per Town & Country


Prince Joachim's Response to the Decision 

Prince Joachim, whose children lost their titles, expressed his grievances with his mother’s decision to the press. “I can say that my children are sad,” Joachim told B.T. “My kids don’t know which leg to stand on. What they should believe. Why should their identity be removed? Why must they be punished in that way?”

Prince Joachim of Denmark, Princess Marie of Denmark, Prince Nikolai of Denmark, Prince Felix of Denmark, Princess Athena of Denmark, Prince Henrik of Denmark, Count of Monpezat attends the celebrations of her Majesty's 76th birthday at Amalienborg Royal Palace on April 16, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Source: Luca Teuchmann/Getty Images

A few days after Joachim’s statement to the press, Margrethe wrote in a statement that she had “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.”


Frederik Supported His Mother’s Decision 

King Frederik has been a long supporter of his mother’s decisions during her reign. He is the first member of the Danish royal family to earn a master’s degree and has served in all three divisions of the Danish military for over three decades.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark visit the Brandenburg Gate on November 10, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. The Danish queen and her son are conducting a state visit to Germany, including the country's federal capital, Berlin, and that of its largest state, Munich, from November 10-13. Denmark and Germany are neighboring countries and close partners politically, historically, economically and culturally.

Source: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

When the decision was made to remove the titles of his brother’s four children, he supported it, saying, “My mother has made this decision alone, because it is what she can do and it is what she wants, and she thought now was the time to make a decision that I also support and see as the right thing to do” (via People).


The Trouble with Titles in Denmark’s Royal Family

This isn’t the first time that Margrethe has had to deal with title issues within her family. Before her marriage to Henrik, he held the title of Henri Marie Jean André, Count of Laborde de Monpezat.

A greyscale image of Queen Margrethe II Of Denmark with her husband

Source: Public Domain

Henrik immediately launched into a campaign for the more prestigious title of King Consort, determined to stand beside his queen as an equal, instead of accepting the traditional title of Prince Consort.


Henrik’s Grudge with His Wife 

Royal Danish House’s director of communications, Lene Balleby, told the B.T. in 2017, “It is no secret that the prince for many years has been unhappy with his role and the title he has been awarded in the Danish monarchy” (via The New York Times).

Prince Consort Henrik, Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Russia's First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva pose on the stairs of Fredensborg Palace, on April, 27, 2010 in the north of Copenhagen,Denmark. President Medvedev is on a two-day official visit to Denmark.

Source: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

The New York Times reported that Henrik’s discontent with his title and lack of salary was so great that he requested not to be buried next to his wife after his death. 


Frederik’s Infidelity Rumors 

Frederik is not free of rumors, either. In November 2023, the Spanish tabloid Lecturas published photos of the king walking with Mexican socialite Genoveva Casanova and allegedly spending the evening at her apartment. 

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark attend the Joaquín Sorolla exhibition - Light in Motion (Luz en Movimiento) and a dinner at the Glyptoteket Museum on November 07, 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Source: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

The infidelity rumors were shrugged off by Casanova, and dismissed by a spokesperson for the royal house of Denmark, telling Business Insider, “We do not comment on rumors and insinuations.”


Bad Blood Between Brothers 

In 2023, Joachim and his family moved to the U.S. for his new role at the Danish Embassy. His family includes Princess Marie, his second wife. Together they share two children. Joachim’s two eldest children, Nikolai and Felix, continue to live in Australia and Copenhagen. 

(L-R) Prince Joachim of Denmark, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark take part in a receiving line ahead of an official dinner at the Royal Palace on March 26, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are on a Diamond Jubilee tour of Scandinavia that takes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Source: Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images

After the coronation of King Frederik, the International reported that the brother’s relationship was more toxic than Prince William and his brother Harry.