Danish people are upset that their royal family is trashy & dysfunctional

People were really surprised by the Danish royal controversy in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe suddenly announced that four of her grandchildren – all of Prince Joachim’s children – were being stripped of their royal titles and styles as of the new year. Joachim, his current wife Marie and his ex-wife Alexandra were all incensed and they were all making public statements about it. It was a huge mess for a full week, then QM issued a public apology to Joachim and the grandchildren, acknowledging the hurt she caused but not reversing the decision. Since her apology, things seemed to have calmed down a lot. Joachim even returned home to have some kind of “peace talk” with his mother over the weekend. He’s not giving interviews at the moment. So did Queen Margrethe manage the crisis and do Danish people still support her and the House of Glücksburg? The Guardian is trying to figure that out and it’s surprisingly dishy. This whole episode has left a lot of Danish royal-watchers completely flummoxed and fearing the worse.

A royal family in crisis? “It’s revealed a side of the family no one had ever seen,” said Helle Jørgensen, 66, a retired schoolteacher visiting the royal museum. “They don’t actually seem able to talk to each other. The announcement was one thing; what came after seems worse.”

Businessman Søren Nygard’s thoughts: He said he supported – or at least, understood – the decision that unleashed the drama. “But what it set in motion … It looks the British royal family isn’t the only one with issues.”

Joachim was not initally informed of the decision by his mother: Joachim also alleged, tellingly, that he had been informed of the decision by a senior court official, rather than his mother, only five days earlier. He claimed he had been warned in May his children risked being stripped of their titles when they turned 25, but had asked for time to come back with a proposal of his own. And he said that he had “unfortunately” not spoken to the queen or his elder brother Frederik, since the announcement, adding: “That’s also family – or whatever one could call it.” For her part, Marie described the couple’s relationship with the crown prince and his wife as “complicated”.

A real crisis: The sudden outbreak of unsuspected royal hostilities and – even more unusual – their unseemly public airing have shocked many Danes, regardless of whether or not they approve the queen’s decision (polls suggest up to three-quarters do). “It actually is a very real crisis,” said Trine Villemann, author of two books about the royal family. “It has shattered people’s image of the queen, and of the family. There may have been questions of protocol, but she is a mother and a grandmother – couldn’t she just have picked up the phone and said, look, we have to sort this out?”

The importance of titles: With the queen’s personal approval ratings invariably over 80% and support for the monarchy not much different, few had suspected trouble could be brewing. Danes have, however, long known the importance Margrethe attaches to court titles.

Margrethe’s late husband: For decades until his death in 2018, the queen’s late husband and consort, Prince Henrik, complained – bitterly, but in vain – that he was never called king, at one point even fleeing to the couple’s chateau in France after Crown Prince Frederik was chosen to host a New Year’s reception in the queen’s absence. French-born Henrik complained he felt “pushed aside, degraded and humiliated” at being relegated to “third place” in the hierarchy, especially after having “satisfied myself, for so many years, with being number two”. He would later refuse to be buried next to his wife on the grounds he was never made her equal.

Margrethe was not a warm mother: There have been hints, too, that Margrethe was not the warmest of mothers. Villemann, who wrote a bestselling biography of the queen, said Joachim and Frederik were “raised by their nanny, on the top floor of palace. Margrethe hardly went up there. They weren’t allowed down for dinner until they were four or five.” As a result, she said, the two brothers – born barely a year apart – became “incredibly close. They were almost like twins.” Their relationship has cooled since, observers say, with Joachim gradually being sidelined and his royal duties cut back amid claims in the media that as second son he was effectively exiled to Paris.

The public fight has shocked Danes: “It’s extremely unusual, even unprecedented,” commented Jacob Heinel Jensen, royal correspondent of the BT tabloid. “Not only did they quite clearly fail to talk it all over internally, but they are now washing their dirty linen in public. We’ve really not seen anything like it, certainly not since Henrik 20 years ago. We all like this fairytale idea of a happy, harmonious royal family – but it turns out they’re really not.”

Communication breakdown: Peter Thygesen, veteran royal correspondent for the daily Politiken, concurred. “No one saw it coming,” he said. “Normally the family never comments in public; now they’re communicating with each other through the media. It’s all very damaging.” Thygesen said it was now up to the queen, “who will certainly survive this”, to “bring the family back together and sort it out”.

[From The Guardian]

It’s cracking me up to see the Danish people suddenly realize that their royal family is dysfunctional too, just like the Brits. I mean, let’s face it though – the Windsors’ dysfunction is the laughingstock of Europe, the Windsors are always in crisis over this or that, and the family dynamics have always been pitiful and unhealthy. The situation in Denmark is almost quaint compared to the Windsors. For what it’s worth, I think Margrethe got exposed as a distant mother and someone who is bad at internal diplomacy within her family. But it’s salvageable, in my opinion. The statement she made where she acknowledged Joachim’s pain was a step in the right direction, as was the invitation for Joachim to visit her and talk things out privately.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Cover Images.

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