The Danmarks Nationalbank have unveiled (6th June) two new commemorative coins which will be issued on the occasion of the golden (or 50th) wedding anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Henrik on the 10th June 2017. The National Bank of Denmark has a long tradition of issuing commemorative gold and silver coins to mark special events in the royal family, such as accessions to the throne, regnal jubilees, royal weddings, silver and golden wedding anniversaries, and special birthdays. The last Danish golden wedding anniversary commemorative 2-kroner silver coin was issued in 1892 on the occasion of the 50th wedding anniversary of King Christian IX and Queen Louise, who were married on the 26th May 1842. The last wedding anniversary commemorative coin issued for Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik was in 1992, on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary. Prior to this, their wedding day was celebrated with a silver coin in 1967—the third time Prince Henrik has been portrayed on a commemorative Danish coin.
The coins are designed by veteran coin and medal artist Henrik Wiberg, whose previous designs on Danish coins include the obverse portrait of the 75th-birthday coin of Queen Margrethe II in 2015 and the current circulating 5-, 2-, and 1-kroner coin obverses. The designs will be issued on a silver crown-size coin and on base-metal Proof and circulation 20-kroner coins. Wiberg has sculpted the portrait on the obverse and reproduced the joint monogram on the reverse.
The obverse features a portrait of the couple, with Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik each in three-quarter profile, facing each other. Surrounding the upper three-fourths of the motif is a plain border with the inscriptions H.M. DRONNINGEN and H.K.H. PRINSEN (HM the Queen and HRH the Prince), with the titles separated by a heart mintmark.
The reverse motif is the crowned, joint monogram of the queen and the prince, made up of an intertwined M and two letters H. Within the lower part of the joint monogram is a heart. A plain border surrounds the principal design. At the top of the border are the date and the years of the wedding and anniversary, 1967 10.JUNI 2017, while at the bottom is the coin’s face value, either 500 KRONER or 20 KRONER.
|20 kroner||Aluminium-bronze||9.3 g||27 mm||Circulation||None|
|20 kroner||Aluminium-bronze||9.3 g||27 mm||Proof||1,250|
|500 kroner||.999 silver||31.1 g||38 mm||Proof||n/a|
The new coins are the first to be produced by the Mint of Finland on behalf of the Danish National Bank since the Royal Danish Mint ceased operations last year. The silver 500-kroner coin and Proof 20-kroner coin are available directly from the website of the National Bank.
The Story of a Royal Romance: Margrethe and Henrik
The birth of the first daughter of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his young wife, Ingrid (a princess from Sweden who was the daughter of Gustav V), was celebrated with great fanfare on the 16th April 1940. Margrethe’s birth came at a time when Denmark had, only days before, been invaded and subsequently occupied by armed forces of the Third Reich. Much of Europe was now in the throes of another war on much of the continent, and Denmark would endure the hardships of occupation for four more years. The inspiring rides through the streets of Copenhagen by her grandfather, King Christian X, were becoming legendary outside of the country. Riding his horse through the streets to be seen by his people, he was a symbol of strength and resistance—as well as a great irritant to the occupying forces, who threatened the king with house arrest if he continued. Nevertheless, the king continued to take his horseback rides in Copenhagen until he accidentally fell from his horse in October 1942. As it turned out, the king wasn’t the only symbol of hope and of a future free from war and occupation. His little granddaughter also became something of the very same emblem of nationhood and solidarity.
In 1947, King Christian X died, and Princess Margrethe’s father was proclaimed King Frederik IX—but the princess was not initially regarded as her father’s heir. Tradition dictated that the Danish throne could not be inherited by a woman, and so it was her uncle, Prince Knud, younger brother of the new king, who was named crown prince of Denmark upon Frederik IX’s succession. With the birth of two more daughters into the royal family—Princess Benedicte in 1942 and Princess Anne Marie in 1946—King Frederik prompted changes to the Danish constitution shortly after his accession to ensure his eldest daughter might inherit the throne on his death. Given the popularity of the king and queen and a greater involvement of women in Danish society, the process to make the needed changes was underway. Finally, a referendum was passed on the 27th March 1953, and with the last obstacle barring women’s succeeding to the Danish throne gone, Princess Margrethe was designated her father’s heir presumptive and successor in the event the king had no sons.
Majority and Education
In 1958, Princess Margrethe celebrated her 18th birthday and attained her majority as well as being designated a seat in the council of state. In the absence of the king, it would be her responsibility to chair these meetings, which she often did. Princess Margrethe had an extensive and diverse education, which began at the private N. Zahle’s School in Copenhagen (from which she graduated in 1959). The princess then spent a year at North Foreland Lodge, an all-girls boarding school in Hampshire, England. She later took up the subject of prehistoric archaeology at Girton College, Cambridge, from 1960 to 1961. As a future head of state, Princess Margrethe then went on to study political science at Aarhus University between 1961 and 1962 and attended the Sorbonne in 1963, after which she attended the London School of Economics in 1965. Princess Margrethe is considered a gifted linguist, and aside from her native Danish, she eventually became fluent in Swedish, French, German, and English. On a visit to the Faroe Islands, Margrethe was even able to converse in the Faroese dialect.
The Choice of a Fiancé
Ultimately, the question of marriage would be the subject of speculation for the young, well-educated, creatively artistic, and beautiful princess. The choice of a husband was important not only for Margrethe, but for the country. For the Royal Danish Court, a wedding announcement came from the king in early 1964—but it wasn’t an announcement for the heir-presumptive, it was for King Frederik IX’s youngest daughter, Princess Anne Marie, who was set to marry Crown Prince Constantine of Greece (who would unexpectedly become his country’s head of state in March of the same year, very soon after the engagement announcement).
While studying in London, Princess Margrethe met a diplomat who had been serving in the French Foreign Affairs ministry since 1962 and was working as a secretary at the embassy in London from 1963. Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat was born on the 11th June 1934 in Talence, Gironde, France, as the son of André de Laborde de Monpezat. For the first five years of his life, Henri lived in Hanoi, Vietnam, where his father looked after family business interests. He returned to Hanoi in 1950 as a young teen to complete his secondary education and graduated from the French secondary school in 1952. Between 1952 and 1957 he simultaneously studied law and political science at the Sorbonne in Paris and the languages of Chinese and Vietnamese at the École Nationale des Langues Orientales. Henri also studied in Hong Kong in 1957 and Saigon in 1958 and is fluent in Chinese, Vietnamese, and English as well as his native French—and as a consequence of living in Denmark, he speaks Danish, though with a distinctive French accent.
While studying at the London School of Economics in 1965, Princess Margrethe, scarcely known outside her own country, was invited to a dinner at the French embassy. During this initial meeting, Henri recollected that, to his surprise, although he found Margrethe interesting he was a bit intimidated by her and said little during the dinner as a result. Margrethe later recalled that she had no real impression from this first meeting of the man who would be her future husband. A chance meeting as guests at the same wedding shortly after the first dinner gave the two young people an opportunity to meet and converse during the reception; and, coincidentally, on the airplane ride back to London they were seated together once again. Upon their return to London, Margrethe and Henri gradually began dating and grew fond of one another.
Princess Margrethe and Henri managed to keep a low profile for more than a year, which was made easier by the fact of Margrethe’s anonymity in Britain. The couple were so successful at maintaining their privacy during their courtship that upon learning the news that an engagement announcement was imminent from the palace, most Danes had no idea their princess had been dating anyone, let alone thinking of marriage.
A State Affair
The question of whether Princess Margrethe would be able to continue as her father’s heir presumptive were she to marry a commoner, as the constitution did not permit the heir to the Danish throne to do this, would have to be raised with the government. Before her engagement, Princess Margrethe confirmed during an interview with the press that the Danish constitution would not have to be amended were she to marry a commoner, thus alleviating what might be a constitutional obstacle to such a marriage.
On the 4th October 1966, the Danish parliament gave their official approval of the marriage, and the following morning, King Frederik IX formally asked the state council for approval of the marriage of the heir to the throne. The approval was granted as expected, and in celebration of parliamentary and state-council approval of their marriage, Margrethe and Henri appeared on the balcony at Amalienborg with both sets of parents. A crowd of well-wishers gathered at the palace to cheer for the couple. The soon-to-be Danish Prince Henri expressed his appreciation in Danish with the words, “Thank you a thousand times.”
The royal couple’s religious ceremony was scheduled to take place at Holmens Kirke in Copenhagen on the 10th June 1967, which was where Princess Margrethe had been baptized. The wedding was held in the late afternoon with the wedding procession starting at Amalienborg Palace and stretching all the way to Holmens Kirke. Crowds lined the streets of the entire parade route as royal hussars led Margrethe and Frederik, who were traveling in a state coach. Father and daughter waved to the crowd as they passed.
The radiant princess’s dress was designed by Danish dressmaker Jørgen Bender, who was well known in the Danish royal court. The close-fitting, long-sleeved white silk gown featured a square neckline, and on the front of the dress was a piece of heirloom lace that had originally belonged to Margrethe’s grandmother, Margaret of Connaught, the former crown princess of Sweden and granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Princess Margrethe’s tiara for her special day was the same one worn by her mother on her wedding day: the Khedive of Egypt tiara. The Cartier-designed tiara was given to Margrethe’s grandmother Princess Margaret in 1905 as a wedding gift from the Khedive of Egypt and contained very distinctive diamond laurel-leaf swirls as part of its design.
The ceremony was brief for a royal wedding, but typical for a wedding ceremony in the Danish Lutheran Evangelical Church. On their wedding day, Erik Jenson, Bishop of Aalborg, not only married the couple but formally received Henri, who was born into the Catholic faith, into the Danish Lutheran Church. Following the wedding, Henri would be known by the Danish version of his name, “Henrik,” and would be elevated to the rank of a royal prince of Denmark with the qualification of “Royal Highness.” As a personal gift from his new father-in-law on his wedding day, Henri was made a recipient of the Order of the Elephant, the highest order in Denmark, which he wore as part of his wedding attire. After an exquisite wedding reception, the couple said goodbye to their families in the early hours of the 11th June and boarded the Dannebrog to begin their honeymoon. Coincidentally, it was the 33rd birthday of the new Prince Henrik of Denmark. The couple honeymooned in Mexico, spending part of their time in a villa owned by former Mexican president Adolfo Lopez Mateos. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and her new husband, Prince Claus, had stayed at the villa during their honeymoon the previous year.
The Duties of the Sovereign
The unthinkable occurred less than five years after the couple had married and were beginning to raise their two young sons, Prince Frederik, born on the 26th May 1968, and Joachim, born on the 7th June 1969. In January 1972 King Frederik IX experienced a short illness after delivering his New Year’s address. He unexpectedly died on the 14th January at the age of 72, after a reign of nearly 25 years. His heir officially succeeded him a day later, when the reign of Queen Margrethe was proclaimed from the balcony of Christainsborg Palace by the prime minister, with the new queen standing beside him. In a break from centuries of tradition, Queen Margrethe II (as she would now be known) relinquished all the monarch’s former traditional titles of Sovereign of the Wends and Goths, retaining only the title to Denmark. Her new style would be “Margrethe den Anden, af Guds Nåde Danmarks Dronning” (By the Grace of God, Margrethe the Second, Queen of Denmark). To define her new role as the Danish sovereign, the queen chose as her motto “Guds hjaelp, folkets kaerlighed, Danmarks styrke” (God’s help, the love of the people, Denmark’s strength).
The new couple settled into their new roles of queen and consort of Denmark, the Faeroe Islands, and Greenland, and set out on official tours of all three realms to meet her new subjects. To the surprise of many during her official visit, the queen addressed her hosts and the Faeroese people in their own language.
In 1986, her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik, attained his majority, and like his mother 28 years before, he was made part of the council of state and was designated regent in the absence of his mother. The national celebrations in 1990 on the occasion of the queen’s 50th birthday as well as the silver wedding anniversary of the queen and Prince Henrik were displays of the affection the people of Denmark have for their queen, and in 1997, Margrethe II celebrated her silver jubilee of accession. In 2005, the queen bestowed the official title of Prince Consort to her husband of 38 years.
As a constitutional crowned head of state, the queen takes no part in political activities or decisions and does not publicly express or influence policies of the sitting government which acts in her name, including passing laws through Parliament. Although the queen may vote in national elections, she has never exercised this right, to ensure there is no appearance of partisanship for any side. The queen also acts as head of state for the Faeroe Islands and Greenland and appoints a representative to act on her behalf according to the constitutions of both realms.
In April 2016, Prince Henrik renounced the title of prince consort, and just before his 81st birthday, he decided to retire from his public duties with the full support of his wife. In January of this year, the queen celebrated her 45th year on the Danish throne; as a consequence, she has become the second-longest-reigning Danish monarch after King Christian IV, who reigned for a total of 60 years from 1588 to 1648.
Interests Outside of Official Duties
It has been known by many in Denmark for some time that the Queen is very artistic, with interests in painting, calligraphy, costume design, and even—on very rare occasions—performance on stage and television. Margrethe II is an accomplished painter and has been accorded her own showing as an artist at selected galleries. She signs her artwork with a simple and stylised “M.” The queen has also designed many monograms for members of her family.
The queen is also known in the industry of costume design, having designed for many productions which included the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera companies. Aside from these productions, she has also designed her own dresses for various state occasions or anniversaries, including the dress and cape worn for the official portraits on the occasions of her 25th anniversary and 40th anniversaries of succession.
Succession and Beyond
In 2004, Crown Prince Frederik married his fiancée, Miss Mary Donaldson, a native of Australia and a former marketing consultant. The two met during the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and it became clear to them both that there was a genuine attraction. After a long courtship which saw Miss Donaldson move to Copenhagen, the pair announced their engagement in October 2003, when the queen also gave her official consent for the pair to marry. Their wedding took place on the 14th May 2004 amid great cheers from Danes from all walks of life, who welcomed the choice of an Australian bride with great enthusiasm. The couple’s first child, a son, was born on the 15th October 2005 and named in the Danish tradition of alternating regnal names of Christian and Frederik. He is Christian Valdemar Henri John, and is third in succession to the Danish throne after his father. A daughter, Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe, followed in April 2007 and is fourth in the line of succession.
Thus there is a solid line of succession to Denmark’s throne—one of the oldest in Europe—and since the queen enjoys wide popularity with many Danes, it is eagerly anticipated that she will celebrate her 80th birthday in 2020 and her golden Jubilee in 2022. Guds hjaelp, folkets kaerlighed, Danmarks styrke! ❑