Saturday, 3 Jun 2023

Queen Margrethe was ‘publicly humiliated’ by her husband in ugly vent

Royal wedding of Queen Margrethe II in 1967

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark met her future husband in 1964 while studying at the London School of Economics. Having been introduced to the French diplomat Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, later Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark,, she “fell in love with a bang,” as she told author Anne Wolden-Ræthinge for the book Queen in Denmark: Margrethe II Talks About Her Life. The couple married in 1967 but the seeds of discontent in the relationship were sown from the start.

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“Henrik was for better and for worse a larger-than-life figure,” former royal reporter Trine Villemann told Vanity Fair in 2022. “Flamboyant, extrovert, an alpha male with a Gallic temper. He could be generous and kind, but also mean and vicious.”

When, in 1972, Margrethe ascended the throne, she was remarkably pragmatic about her new role and responsibilities, likening it to a farmer inheriting a farm. She told Ms Wolden-Ræthinge: “I feel that I am extremely privileged. Partly because I have a position which is special, which absorbs me immensely, and which I love…a job which is satisfying, exciting, and boundless—literally a purpose in life.”

In her new role as Queen, she was clear that duty came first. “Denmark is more important to me than anything else. I do not think I have ever even flirted with the idea of putting my marriage before the throne,” she said. “All over Denmark I had already been met with such great expectations and received so much kindness and respect. To turn my back on all this would be to fail everyone who depended on me.”

However, her husband, who had become prince consort, was not so fulfilled in his new position. His seeming loss in his new subservient role earned him the nickname, “the world’s grumpiest royal”.

In 2017, his dissatisfaction burst onto the public stage when he gave an extraordinary interview to the magazine Se og Hør. Henrik thundered about Margrethe, who he claimed did not show him the respect a wife should show her husband.

“My wife has decided that she would like to be queen, and I’m very pleased with that,” he said. “But as a person, she must know that if a man and a woman are married, then they are equal.”

“She’s the one playing me for a fool,” he fumed.

This was one of the numerous times the Prince Consort openly vented about his place in the monarchy, tirades that typically came at the expense of his wife.

“On several occasions, Henrik publicly humiliated his wife by expressing his fury and — in my opinion — that is the main reason the Danes never really took to Henrik,” Ms Villemann said.

Unsurprisingly, the discontent transcended into their relationship. “Their marriage was definitely tumultuous — and from very early on,” Ms Villemann explained.

Margrethe appeared to admit to having disagreements with her husband, whom she referred to as an “invaluable critic”.

“My husband and I have discussions in front of our sons,” she told Ms Wolden-Ræthinge, “but they all consider me shy of conflicts. I suppose I am, but I hate disagreeing with anyone — though I do like to be right!”

Margrethe and Henrik had two sons together: Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

Although Henrik’s frustration about his position in the royal family had long been bubbling, his eldest son’s increasing responsibility became an additional point of contention.

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In 2002, when Frederik, who is next in line to the Danish throne, attended a party on behalf of the Queen, Henrik told the Danish tabloid BT he felt “pushed aside, degraded, and humiliated,” and was furious at being demoted from number two to “number three”.

The Prince Consort was “infuriated” by his lack of kingship. As Queen, Margrethe could have elevated her husband to king consort but did not.

“He — rightfully, I think — felt that it was unjust that, per tradition, a king’s female spouse becomes a queen and a majesty upon ascending the throne whereas he never enjoyed the same privilege,” Ms Villemann argued. “The inequality of it all infuriated Henrik and he never missed an opportunity to complain about what he perceived as his misfortune.”

Margrethe, however, expressed her sympathy for her husband’s odd position, telling Ms Wolden-Ræthinge: “I do not think that his new life in Denmark was always very easy for my husband. We were both madly in love and knew this was what we wanted, but we had no doubts that it would have a price. It has not been effortless for my husband to alter so many things in his life or — in some ways — to change himself.”

But in 2017, during his interview with Se og Hør, Henrik issued a furious ultimatum.

In retaliation to his lack of kingship, which he perceived as a slight, he insisted he would not be buried in the custom-made glass memorial his wife had commissioned for the pair in Roskilde Cathedral.

“If she wants to bury me with her, she must make me a king consort,” he demanded. “Finished. I do not care.”

However, his public outrage did not dissuade his wife. When Henrik died on February 13, 2018, he was still only a prince.

“He died an angry, bitter man, and even in death he gave his wife and the Danish people the finger by refusing to be laid to rest in the official royal resting place at Roskilde Cathedral. Instead, he was cremated,” Ms Villemann said.

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