Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Danish royal roundup # 6

Time for another royal roundup!

A step closer to full cognatic primogeniture

The Treasury and Crown Jewels at Rosenborg Castle

On May 31 the Danish parliament (Folketing) passed the second reading of the bill to alter the order of succession to the first-born child of the monarch or heir apparent regardless of gender. The object of the change in the order of succession is gender equality. As the first born child of Frederik and Mary is a boy, these laws will apply to the children of Crown Prince/King Christian when the time comes. This long constitutional process began while Crown Princess Mary was pregnant with Christian. The law will not change before a third reading, an election and the next parliament will debate it further before a referendum in the next parliamentary term.

The process involves three readings in the current parliament (two now completed), the next election, three readings in the next parliament followed by a referendum. Of course there is no guarantee the election will produce a parliament which has the same views on constitutional change as the current parliament. There are some parties in the parliament which are proposing other changes along with the succession issue. The current government has sought a common approach among major parties for the order of succession to be treated on its own rather than being bundled in with other changes.

The Danish situation historically to the present:
The Constitution was revised in 1953, because King Frederik IX had no son the law of succession to the throne was altered 27 March 1953.
The State religion is the Lutheran Evangelical Church (part II.6 of the Constitution pertaining to the king). Marriage must be with consent of the Parliament for the monarch and of the sovereign with the Council of Ministers for all other eventual heirs (this was the case for Crown Prince Frederik and his proposed marriage to Mary Donaldson).The monarch and heirs must contract a lawful marriage with primogeniture as the type of succession law. In Denmark it was semi-Salic from 1660 to 1853 and Salic from 1853 to 1953.* The currently proposed change will introduce equal primogeniture (or full lineal primogeniture).
*(Note: Salic Law refers to females being entirely excluded from succession. Semi-Salic Law refers to succession to all male dynastic descendents and only resorting to the eldest female dynastic descendent when they are exhausted. Primogeniture means the male children take precedence, older over younger, current in Denmark. Cognatic [absolute] Primogeniture is the right of succession passing to the eldest child of the sovereign, regardless of gender, with females enjoying the same right of succession as males.)

The law will have an impact on succession order if, say, Frederik and Mary go on to have a daughter followed by another son. Under current succession order the son who is the third child would have precedence over the daughter who is the second child. The new law would give the daughter succession after Christian and of course affect Christian's children and all subsequent children born to the monarch or heir to the throne.
B.T. 'Kronprinsesser ligestilles med kronprinser' (in Danish - Crown princess to be equal with crown prince)
ABC News Online 'Denmark moves toward female succession to throne' 'Danes vote for future Queen'
Order of Succession gives all the definitions of agnatic primogeniture (and Salic Law and its variations), cognatic primgeniture, equal primogeniture (or full lineal primogeniture as in Sweden and proposed for Denmark)
Conditional Consent, Dynastic Rights and the Danish Law of Succession by Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard Dept. of Political Science, University of Aarhus - in English, a little old now, dates from 1998, but discusses some interesting points about the succession rights of Princess Benedikte and her children.
ABC News 'Princess power is on the rise'

On May 31, 2006 Princess Alexandra attended the opening ceremony of a botanic garden in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.

Although not a completely royal story, the royal family was very involved in some of the events of last year's Hans Christian Andersen 2005 bicentennary. A recent report in The Copenhagen Post reveals the Hans Christian Andersen celebrations of last year have produced a financial and cultural benefit for Denmark. This wasn't always obvious last year when the HCA organisation was beset by financial and organisational problems. The whole royal family was involved in many events celebrating the Danish writer's contribution to world literature. Right, Mary at the Thorvaldsen Museum's HCA 2005 exhibit last August.
For context The Age (Melbourne) 'Last appearance'

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik have already been to their own Arabian-themed party... a couple of decades ago.

We promised we would let you know about Frederik's private birthday celebration if we got any info. Billed Bladet and Her & Nu report the couple and their close friends had an Arabian Nights-themed party at The Chancellery House. Friends who arrived at The Chancellery House included Caroline and Peter Heering, Rikke Juel and her partner Michael, Jeppe and Birgitte Handwerk, Marie-Louise and Jørgen Skeel (and their son and their dog and the children of the other couples too).

Some more from Queen Margrethe's and Prince Henrik's visit to Italy and Greece.

Left, Queen Margrethe looked particularly elegant in Florence on May 14 at a party attended by Sophia Loren.

And, we also add a translation of the Queen's speech at the gala dinner hosted by the Greek president. It highlights some interesting connections between Greece and Denmark.

Speech given by HM The Queen at the state banquet in the Presidential Palace at Athens on May 24 2006
Mr. President, Mrs. Papoulias.

It is with great joy that The Prince Consort and I begin out state visit to Greece today, and we thank you, Mr. President, for your beautiful words to us and to our country, and for the welcome which has been given us. It emphasises the good and close relations between our two countries.
Scarcely two years ago, the Prince Consort and I visited Athens when Greece hosted the Olympic Games, an event which athletes as well as spectators will remember with enthusiasm, not only for the athletic achievements, but equally for the successful hosting of the event.
Denmark and Greece are very different countries in character and position, but they also, in their situations, have similarities which further mutual sympathy and understanding. Both are smaller countries at the fringes of the European continent, and both countries have a geography which orients them towards the sea, which makes it natural for us to see ourselves as merchant and seafaring nations. Those are features which have characterised our countries and peoples from antiquity.
For the traveller who is granted the privilege to arrive in Athens by boat, that is an unforgettable experience. The blue, blue Mediterranean, the rugged shores where each island and each foreland tells of the country’s history from ancient as well as modern times. There is the bay of Piraeus – and there, high above the plain and mist of the modern city, you see a golden chest: the Acropolis “as a gigantic throne above all the wee houses”, as the poet Hans Christian Andersen put it in 1841.
For all of western civilization, Ancient Greece is part of the foundation. Ever since this connection came to the attention of the people of the Renaissance, the thoughts and styles of antiquity have stamped our lives; we have, so to say, grown up surrounded by antiquity’s architectural orders and its philosophical terms, even when we are barely conscious of them. Early in the 19th century, the ancient ideals of freedom and the ideas of the democratic city-state found further nourishment in the Greek Liberation War. Greece was on everybody’s lips; Danish artists now went to Greece, painters and poets described the country, and Danish architects and classical researchers sought to personally familiarise themselves with the places of the ancient culture.

Doubtlessly, they experienced a very different Greece than those [Greeeks] we meet today. But one thing has not changed and seems as breathtaking to any Dane, now as then: that is the light. We Scandinavians who come from many gray days and little sun, picture to ourselves the South in a warm and golden light. But here, we see something new: here the light is white, white and blue like the Greek flag. For a Dane, there is at the same time something strangely familiar about the light above the islands or above Attica, for here as at home, the sea is always near, it is both at our feet and right behind the mountain, and lends its blue glimmer to the shadows, as we know it from our own sea-encircled land.
One of the Danish writers who let themselves be fascinated by Greece was Hans Christian Andersen, whose fairy tales and stories are known and loved in Greece. This was clearly seen in the many events marking the bicentenary of his birth also in this country. Both in his journals and in his great travel book of 1842 A Poet’s Bazaar, he vividly described his stay in Athens. Even at that time, the traffic made quite an impression "… the driving Greeks stand up in the old carriages and go by as if it was a horserace", and, as he writes elsewhere, "it raised the dust horribly, but after all, it was classical dust"!
Some of the Danish architects of his age put their mark on Greece. I am thinking of Christian Hansen who stayed here for eighteen years, and his brother Theophilus Hansen. The works of them both still stamp the image of central Athens: the university, the academy and the national observatory are merely examples. Christian Hansen also left his stamp on his own city as he, after returning in the middle of the 19th century, left his mark with characteristic buildings in Copenhagen, inspired by the Byzantine style he had gotten to know in Greece.
Thus, many contacts between Denmark and Greece had already been made when the Greek national assembly in 1863 made yet another connection by electing my great-grandfather’s brother as king as Georg I. The connections between our countries steadily developed, but not least in the course of the last fifty years, we have seen an almost explosive growth in the communication among our countries. It was not only my own, family-related connections which were strengthened, and amongst other experiences led to me also becoming familiar with the country, but the communication has reached new heights. Greece has become one of the Danes’ preferred travel destinations and welcomes more than 300,000 Danish tourists each year. Neither scientists nor artists hold themselves back, for Greece has in all time been an attractive destination for research and inspiration. It was therefore gratifying that Denmark could found the Danish Institute at Athens in 1992; here, close bonds are formed between Danes and Greeks in a fruitful collaboration. Also financial and commercial progress proceeds, and it is my hope that the discussions between Danish and Greek executives arranged in connection with this state visit will inspire new initiatives to the benefit of both our countries.
Internationally there has been for a long time a close and frictionless relationship between Greece and Denmark. This also has its effect on the broader, international co-operation within the parameters of the United Nations, where our two countries are both at the moment elected as members of the Security Council, and also in NATO. Not least, the relationship makes itself felt within the European Union. Fundamentally, the viability of the progress obtained through international collaboration depends on whether the creation and maintaining of a feeling of mutual understanding and solidarity is successful. In this perspective as well there is reason to be delighted at the ties that have been formed throughout centuries between Greece and Denmark, and at the many new connections created in recent years.

Mr. President,
as a politician, you have through your entire life been committed to the struggle for freedom and democracy. You have taken part in decisions which have been crucial for the welfare of your country. By virtue of your prestigious office, you are still contributing to the promotion of respect for your country, for her people and her both old and living culture.

Wishing for continuous happiness and prosperity for Greece and the Greek people, I raise my glass in order to propose a toast, with the Prince Consort, to the President of the Hellenic Republic and Mrs. Papoulias.

(Many thanks to Lasse for this translation - it allows we non-Danish speakers to understand how the Queen handled the diplomacy of this sensitive visit)

The Queen giving her speech at the gala in Athens and Prince Henrik at the Greek-Danish Business Forum:

State Council
Crown Prince Frederik presided over the State Council at Christiansborg Palace on Wednesday June 7, 2006. It is likely Frederik has also taken over the Queen's fortnightly audiences with ordinary Danes since her knee surgery, among various regent duties he is helping with.

As we have already reported, Prince Henrik is in Thailand representing the Queen for the 60th anniversary of the succession of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
11 June 2006. Danish Prince Consort Henrik is greeted by Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in Bangkok. Royalty from around the world are heading to Bangkok for the celebrations of Thai king's 60th year on the throne, during which they will witness a series of rituals steeped in ancient tradition, including a rarely seen parade of 52 carved and gilded ceremonial barges paddled by more than 2,000 chanting oarsmen.

12 June 2006. Denmark's Prince Consort arrives at the river city for shopping during his site seeing tour in Bangkok. Kings and queens, sultans and princes from 25 countries gathered in Thailand to celebrate 60 years on the throne for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch. The highlight for the world's royals, after attending a reception for the king in Bangkok's marble palace, is a royal barge procession, a centuries-old ritual held only once every few years.

12 June 2006. Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, right, is congratulated by Prince Henrik of Denmark at the the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok. The representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Thailand's Asian neighbors trooped into the elaborate century-old hall to convey their best wishes on the 60th anniversary of the 78-year-old king's accession to the throne.

The Danish Prince Consort and his wife gave very personal gifts to the King of Thailand according to Udland Jyllands-Posten, one was a painting done by Queen Margrethe and also a sculpture made by Prince Henrik (who is a very competent sculptor). And apparently the 72nd birthday of Prince Henrik was marked at a reception in the Royal Danish Embassy in Bangkok during his visit. See photos here (thanks for the info and link Martin C at SRMB). Prince Henrik will continue on a private visit to Bhutan after leaving Thailand. Henrik has visited a Danish-owned factory, Ecco Thailand, where he received a pair of the factory-produced shoes as a gift. See the report about the Ecco visit here at

Billed Bladet (in Danish) 'All congratulate the king'
Also see Thai photo gallery where there are lots of high quality photos of the Thai royal events.

Prince Joachim gave Billed Bladet an interview when he was in LA which was featured in last week's issue. It provided no real news but also from his side no stepping back from the fact he is happy and 'things' should take time in a natural way (referring not so obliquely to Marie Cavallier). Not to be outdone on the Joachim front, B.T. reports on Danish skin care entrepeneur Ole Henriksen's account of the Danish film community's party when Joachim was in LA recently. Henriksen claims all the women at the party thought Joachim was by far the most attractive gentleman at the event, no doubt helped by his princely and single status.

Billed Bladet reports there could be some significance, i.e.: confirmation of a serious relationship, between Prince Gustav and Carina Axelsson, who was present at last weekend's family wedding. Gustav is Benedikte's son and heir to the title and estate of his father. Carina Axelsson attended the wedding and the reception, denoting a kind of acceptance of her into the family. We will see.

Billed Bladet gives an account of the Queen's return to Fredensborg from Århus in a rather long ambulance trip (around three hours drive). Last week the magazine reported the Queen's grandson visited his grandmother in hospital. On Sunday June 4 Frederik, Mary and Christian made the long drive from Fredensborg to Århus hospital to visit the Queen after her surgery. After the visit and with Mary driving, they slipped out the back of the hospital and stopped off at nearby Marselisborg (where they had been for the Queen's birthday for Easter) to attend to Christian, and maybe themselves, before making the return trip to Fredensborg.

Some nice news for Queen Margrethe. Her beloved daschund Célimène died last December and Prince Henrik is giving her a new puppy for her birthday. The gift is a little belated because the puppy, from Lis Christensen's kennel in Sydsjælland, was not born yet. The Queen has chosen the puppy from four in the litter, which have the same progeny as Henrik's dog Evita.

There is a little bit of 'breaking news', although at the moment it is still very much in the gossip/rumour pigeonhole until we have more substantiated reports. In case it does have substance, we'll mention it. TV 2 is reporting that the relationship between Princess Alexandra and cameraman Martin Jørgensen is over and that he has moved out of her house in Copenhagen. We will report further on the substance and veracity of this when it emerges.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:30 pm  
Blogger lotte said...

Thanks bonsai! Your comment is much appreciated by both of us :)

7:06 pm  

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