Prince Henrik, the French-born husband of Danish monarch Queen Margrethe who publicly vented his frustration at not being the social equal of his wife or their son in line to become Denmark’s king, died Feb. 13 at his family’s residence north of Copenhagen. He was 83.
He was diagnosed with dementia last year and was hospitalized late last month with a lung infection, according to the royal palace.
The Danish royal family has no political authority but represents one of the world’s oldest monarchies and prides itself on stability. Prince Henrik, however, caused a scandal last August by announcing that when he died, he did not want to be buried next to Margrethe in the cathedral where the remains of Danish royals have been interred for centuries. The queen already had a specially designed sarcophagus waiting for the couple.
The palace said it would respect Prince Henrik’s wish that his body be cremated, with half his ashes spread over Danish seas and the other half buried in the royal family’s private garden at Fredensborg Palace, north of Copenhagen, where he died.
Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat was born on June 11, 1934, in southwestern France. He lived his first five years in France’s Asian colonies. He graduated from universities in Paris, learned Mandarin and Vietnamese, and spent a year at Hong Kong University from 1958 to 1959.
After marrying Denmark’s future queen in 1967, Henri became Henrik and converted to Denmark’s state Lutheran Church. But he found it difficult to fit in with Denmark’s egalitarian lifestyle. He was titled prince consort — the husband of a reigning queen but not a king — and he was not in the line of succession, his oldest son, Crown Prince Frederik, being the heir.
Shortly after the royal marriage, the news media criticized Prince Henrik because he had openly aired his views that spanking was good for children. In the mid-1980s, the prince publicly said he wanted a paycheck instead of relying on the queen, who gets annual allowances.
The law was eventually changed to give him roughly 10 percent of the annual allocation Parliament makes to royals each year.
In a 2002 interview, Prince Henrik again stunned Danes by saying he felt he had been pushed aside in his own home — not only by his wife but also by his son. This followed the annual royal New Year’s reception for foreign diplomats, where Frederik had been host because his mother was unavailable because of a broken rib.
“For many years I have been No. 2,” Prince Henrik told Danish tabloid B.T. “I have been satisfied with that role, but after so many years in Denmark I don’t suddenly want to become No. 3 and become some kind of wearisome attachment.”
Prince Henrik wrote poetry, memoirs and other books, including, in 1999, a coffee-table book on French gastronomy. He and the queen owned a chateau in southwestern France to which they retreated every summer.
Under Denmark’s constitution, the royal family has no political power and is barred from involvement in party politics. As a royal, Prince Henrik held honorary ranks of general in the Danish army and air force, and was an admiral in the navy.
Prince Henrik is survived by his wife, their sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, and eight grandchildren.
Mette Jensen, a 33-year-old office clerk, said that while the Danes had a “love-hate” relationship with Prince Henrik, “I think we will miss him.”