Queen Margrethe II says she’s sorry. But not so sorry that she’ll change her mind.
The youngest of her two sons, Prince Joachim, lamented that he got only “five days’ notice” that his children would no longer go by prince or princess (but rather count and countess, sans royal duties).
“To tell my children that at the New Year their identity will be taken away from them,” he told Danish media. “Why must they be punished in that way?”
His son, 23-year-old Prince Nikolai, who does modeling work, told reporters last week the family was “very sad,” “in shock” and “confused.”
Soon afterward, Margrethe acknowledged that she had “underestimated” how they would feel. “That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry,” she said Monday in a statement. However, she stood by her decision, describing a smaller royal family as “necessary future-proofing of the monarchy.”
Her decree relieves the grandchildren of royal duties as of January — and, the queen says, allows them to “shape their own lives” — although all four will keep their spots in line for the throne.
While many Europeans in constitutional monarchies still look favorably on their royal families, and some members have turned into celebrities, questions about their finances have grown louder — even in Britain, amid the outpouring of grief for Elizabeth.
The royals of Europe’s surviving monarchies wield little influence beyond charities and lavish weddings, and countries have grappled with the institutions as relics of a bloody history and images of flaunted opulence.
The queen’s move in Denmark follows a 2019 reshuffle by Sweden’s king, who removed five of his grandchildren from the official royal house, meaning they could no longer benefit from its taxpayer funds.
Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III, has said he wants the monarchy ranks “slimmed down” to a core of full-time working members to get it on a 21st-century footing. As Elizabeth’s funeral gripped the world, the appearance of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who very publicly split from royal life, spurred speculation about whether their children would get royal titles.
In Denmark, the four grandchildren already were not expecting salaries from the state. The Danish royal family says that only Margarethe’s direct heir will get one, after an uproar in recent years over the prospect of funneling taxpayer money to a growing list of grandchildren.
“It is my duty and my desire as queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times,” Margrethe said Monday. “Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made.”