During her annual New Year’s Eve address 83-year-old Queen Margrethe II of Denmark announced that she would abdicate on 14 January, handing the throne to her elder son, Crown Prince Frederik. She reigned alone since the death of her husband and consort Prince Henrik in 2018 and although she said she would never abdicate she has a history of making bold decisions, with the goal of preserving the Danish monarchy in the modern age. In 2022 she stripped the four children of her younger son, Prince Joachim, of their royal style and title, and was criticised severely for the way that she went about it.
In her speech Queen Margrethe cited the major back operation she underwent in 2023 as the catalyst for her decision, explaining that it made her think that the time had come to pass on the responsibility to the next generation. On page 6 Trond Norén Isaksen explores the story behind this unexpected announcement.
This year looks like the return to regular royal business after the coronation last May. The King and Queen are set to visit a realm – Canada – for the first time since His Majesty’s accession. However, this will be their second Commonwealth trip since then, the royal couple having paid a state visit to Kenya in October 2023. The King last visited Canada in 2022 as Prince of Wales, on a three-day trip with the Duchess of Cornwall; both are well equipped for any controversy that might arise.
Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has confirmed that the King and Queen will visit his country in October, the first time an Australian monarch has gone ‘down under’ since Queen Elizabeth II’s final visit in 2011. Charles and Camilla were last in Australia in 2018 for the Commonwealth Games on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Visits to Australia are subject to the wax and wane of the republican movement, of which the King is well aware. Despite Albanese voting in 1999 for an Australian citizen to replace the British-born monarch as the country’s head of state he enjoys a warm relationship with Charles III and says he ‘looks forward to welcoming His Majesty to Australia later this year’.
Which is just as well as it’s a long way to go to be made to feel unwelcome. Australia is a country for which Charles has always had great affection, having spent part of his education there. This trip will coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa, also in October.
The King’s youngest brother will be 60 next month. The dukedom of Edinburgh was bestowed on Prince Edward on 10 March 2023, his 59th birthday, as a life peerage, which means that his son James, Earl of Wessex, will not inherit the dukedom.
Hopefully there will be a big celebration at Windsor Castle that might also encompass the 60th birthdays of Lady Sarah Chatto, James Ogilvy and Lady Helen Taylor, all of whom were born in 1964. Edward and Sophie’s silver wedding anniversary occurs on 19 June. The Duke of Sussex will be 40 in September, but it is too early to know how that milestone will be marked.