‘Danish royals can’t afford a car’: Former US envoy to Denmark ridiculed over cycling tweet

Carla Sands, the former United States Ambassador to Denmark, has been criticised by Danes including a government minister after claiming large parts of the population cannot afford to own a car.

Former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands
Former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands has raised eyebrows in the Nordic nations with a misleading tweet about the country's cycling culture. Photo: Hannah Beier/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Sands, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump and served as ambassador from 2017-2021, claimed in a Twitter post on Friday that “in Denmark, middle class people can’t afford to drive a car”.

The former ambassador was ostensibly attempting to make a point about the Biden administration’s policies in the context of increasing petrol prices, which are occurring globally.

People in Denmark “have a bike and take the train for long trips. My embassy driver would bike an hour in the snow to get to work,” Sands tweeted.

The tweet has elicited responses from at least three Danish politicians and many members of the Danish public, with Sands largely ridiculed for the claim.

“According to your theory it is even so bad that the Danish royal family cannot afford a car,” responded Danish Social Democratic MEP Marianne Vind along with a photo of the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Frederik, cycling through Copenhagen on a cargo bike with two of his children.

Using the same photo, another user sarcastically pointed out that it was “so sad to witness a middle class family sharing one bike” in reference to the Danish royals.

“Hello this is Denmark speaking”, a further user tweeted.

“Sounds like your embassy driver should have been paid more. Most of us can afford cars, but public transportation is cheap(ish), greener and often more convenient. Which Denmark did you go to?”, they said.

Former Minster of Transport Benny Engelbrecht wrote that “I can assure you that using the bike for urban mobility is a question of choice, not economy for most Danes. This is for instance me in my time as minister — and don’t worry, we could afford a car.”

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke described the Sands tweet as “misinformation”.

“The Trump-nominated former US Ambassador to Denmark is once again spreading misinformation about us. We like cycling, which is healthy and good for the environment and climate, (this) becomes ‘the middle class cannot afford to own a car in Denmark’. I refuse to believe she doesn’t know better,” Heunicke wrote.

It’s not the first time Sands has faced accusations of misinformation.

In late 2020, she made several Twitter posts following the US election in support of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. In one tweet, she claimed her absentee ballot in the state of Pennsylvania had not been registered. This was subsequently debunked.

For what it’s worth as anecdotal evidence: the author of this article lives in Denmark and owns, and frequently drives (despite rocketing fuel prices), a car whilst living in a three-person household (two adults, one child), and has done so since 2020. Until recently, the household’s income consisted of a journalist’s salary and the basic state grant for students, SU.

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Danish Crown Prince and Princess to visit India

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary will travel to India on an official visit later this month.

Danish Crown Prince and Princess to visit India

The visit will take place from February 26th until March 1st and take in capital city New Delhi along with Chennai and Agra, the Danish royal palace said in a statement.

The Crown Prince couple will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke, and Climate and Energy Minister Lars Aagaard in the latter two cities.

Representatives from some 36 Danish businesses will also be present.

The Danish delegation will take part in conferences and visits to businesses alongside Indian government representative and business leaders.

The objective of the visit is will be to promote Danish export opportunities to India and the green partnership between the two countries.

Last week saw the two countries announce a deal that will see Denmark provide technological assistance on a project to cleanse part of India’s holy Ganges river.

Up to 70 percent of India’s energy consumption is from oil or coal, according to the Confederation of Danish Industry. That provides large potential for Danish green energy technology in the Asian country according to the organisation.

India is the world’s sixth-largest economy and third-largest consumer of energy.

READ ALSO: Denmark to help India cleanse the Ganges river