Europe

Denmark's Queen Margrethe marks 40 years

  • 13 January 2012
  • From the section Europe
Media captionQueen Margrethe II: "I felt I should dedicate my life to my nation"

"She's hopelessly old-fashioned and very Danish." The verdict of a local tabloid this week on Queen Margrethe II was not meant unkindly.

She is a symbol of what we love about being Danish, the paper said.

The queen is known affectionately as Daisy. Now 71, she is an accomplished artist and a heavy smoker.

She does not use a mobile phone or the internet declaring herself "very happy" without them.

Image caption Queen Margrethe remains very popular amongst Danes

But as the queen prepares to celebrate 40 years on the throne on Saturday, she has told the BBC that she is more convinced than ever that hereditary monarchy has a role to play in modern society.

"We represent a very long story, and that's the story of our own country," she said.

Opinion polls suggest strong support in Denmark for Europe's oldest continuous monarchy, and the Queen has made it clear that she has no intention of stepping down to allow her son, Crown Prince Frederik, to succeed her.

"You are handed your job as the old king or queen dies," she said.

"It is not a life sentence, but a life of service."

In an interview in the Great Hall of the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, Queen Margrethe also spoke of her lasting admiration for Queen Elizabeth, who celebrates 60 years on the British throne in a few months' time.

"Right from the start, even before she was queen, she talked about dedicating herself to her nation," she said.

Image caption Margrethe married Henri de Laborde de Monpezat before she became queen

"And I felt that very much 40 years ago, that day when I was proclaimed, that I must somehow understand that I must dedicate my life to my nation like she has done. And in that way she has been very important to me."

The Danish jubilee will see a weekend of celebrations including religious ceremonies, a gala banquet and a coach ride through the streets of Copenhagen, with an escort by the Royal Danish Hussar Guard Regiment.

But while plenty of royal pageantry will be on display, the queen has also been given credit for making sure the monarchy changes with the times.

"We can be very relaxed in our relationship with the Danish people," she said.

"And I feel extraordinarily privileged."

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