Prince Henrik, the husband of Denmark's Queen Margrethe, died late on Tuesday aged 83. He had been in hospital in Copenhagen since January for a pulmonary infection and a benign tumour in his left lung, and his condition was reported to have seriously worsened on Friday.
In a statement released early Wednesday, the palace confirmed that the Prince had died shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, with his wife and two children, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, at his side.
A book of condolence has been opened at the Yellow Palace mansion next to Amalienborg Palace, the official residence of the royal family.
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In a statement released by the Prime Minister's office, premier Lars Løkke Rasmussen expressed his condolences to the royal family.
“It is with great sadness that I have received word of His Royal Highness Prince Henrik's death,” the PM wrote in the statement.
“Prince Henrik's life took in the whole world. From a childhood in Hanoi to college in Cahors. From studies in Saigon to military service in Algeria. From a diplomatic career in London to becoming a treasured figure for the royal family in Denmark,” Rasmussen continued, adding that the prince “mastered Danish humour and irony in the best possible way”.
“Denmark has lost a unique representative for our country,” the PM wrote.
The Ministry of Justice announced on Wednesday morning that flags on all state buildings and ships across the country would be flown at half-mast “until sunset” and throughout the coming days “until further notification”.
Danish Red Cross general secretary Anders Ladekarl was one of the first to pay tribute to the late prince.
Prince Henrik became protector of Denmark's Red Cross in 2001 and was described by Ladekarl as “a dear friend and supporter” throughout a 49-year association with the NGO.
“He was always available when volunteers were opening a store or an institution. He was an inspiration for many volunteers. He took part in our annual meetings,” Ladekarl told Ritzau.
“It was inspirational to see a busy man from the royal family spend so much of his time appreciating the voluntary work of the Red Cross in Denmark and around the world,” he added.
Historian and royal expert Lars Hovbakke Sørensen said that Prince Henrik was a figure of support for the Queen and brought a breath of fresh air to the royal family in his role as prince consort.
“Firstly, he was always a source of support and backing for the Queen in all the years she has been monarch and also during the first five years [of their marriage], when she was heir to the throne. He has always been there,” Sørensen said to Ritzau.
The prince helped the Danish monarchy to take a more international outlook, the historian added.
“When he married Margrethe in 1967, Denmark was not very internationally oriented.
“But he opened Danes' eyes to the fact that things can but done differently to the way they're normally done in Denmark,” he said.
French president Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Prince Henrik and the bond between France, the late prince's country of birth, and Denmark.
In a statement, Macron and his wife Brigitte offered their deepest condolences to “the monarch Margrethe II, two children Frederik and Joachim, grandchildren and people of Denmark,” according to a statement quoted by French newspaper Le Figaro.
“Henri de Monpezat became Prince Henrik of Denmark after marrying Margrethe in 1967, when a long and unchanging friendship was formed between France and Denmark, two nations whose alliance was never broken,” the statement read.
French ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray described the prince as a “true artist, who brough colour to Denmark.”
Flowers and candles were throughout Wednesday morning placed by well-wishers in front of Fredensborg Palace near Copenhagen, where Prince Henrik passed away on Tuesday night.
Royal Guards at Fredensborg Palace on February 14th, 2018. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix Denmark
The palace has announced a one-month period of court mourning.