Danish queen tests positive for Covid-19 after Elizabeth II funeral

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, who attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London, has tested positive for Covid-19, the royal palace announced Wednesday.

Danish queen tests positive for Covid-19 after Elizabeth II funeral
Denmark's Queen Margrethe, who attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Monday, has tested positive for Covid-19. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The 82-year-old triple-vaccinated queen, who already had Covid in February, tested positive on Tuesday evening, the palace said in a statement, a day after the funeral.

“The Queen’s activities this week have therefore been cancelled,” it said, without giving details of her condition.

Margrethe came to the throne at the age of 31 in January 1972 on the death of her father, Frederik IX, becoming the first woman to hold the position of reigning queen in Denmark.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, she is now the longest reigning monarch in Europe.

Only the Sultan of Brunei exceeds her by four years.

While fewer than half of Danes were in favour of the monarchy at the time of her accession, the royal family is one of the most popular in the world, enjoying the support of more than 80 percent of the population.

Widowed in 2018, she has repeatedly insisted she will never step down from her duties.

“I will stay on the throne until I drop,” she has said.

Her eldest of two sons, 54-year-old Crown Prince Frederik, is due to succeed her when the time comes.

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How serious are the divisions in Denmark’s royal family?

Denmark's Queen Margrethe's recent decision to strip four of her grandchildren of their titles has sparked unprecedented royal drama in Copenhagen and led her enraged son to air the family's dirty laundry in public.

How serious are the divisions in Denmark's royal family?

Queen Margrethe II announced last week that the four children of her youngest son, 53-year-old Prince Joachim, would no longer be able to use the title of prince and princess after January 1st.

She apologised on Monday for the hurt caused.

But Margrethe stood by the decision which was intended to allow Nikolai, 23, Felix, 20 — born from Joachim’s first marriage — Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10, to live normal lives without royal obligations.

The move followed a trend among other European royal families to slim down their monarchies, including in Britain where the Windsors face their own family feud.

“Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family,” Europe’s only reigning queen said in a statement.

But Prince Joachim saw it as a snub and was quick to speak out in the media.

“On May 5th I was presented with a plan. That this whole issue of my children’s identity would be removed when they each turned 25. Athena will turn 11 in January”, he told Danish tabloid B.T.

“Then, I received five days’ notice” that the decision had been accelerated.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s Prince Joachim says children ‘harmed’ by loss of titles

His first wife Alexandra also told B.T. she and her children were “shocked”, while her eldest son expressed his sadness.

¨”I’m very bewildered as to why this had to happen like this”, Nicolai told tabloid Ekstra Bladet.

The outpourings sparked surprise in the Scandinavian country, coming just days after the hugely popular royal family had celebrated the queen’s 50th anniversary on the throne with pomp and smiles.

There is “no tradition in Denmark of members of the royal family discussing with each other in public”, historian Lars Hovbakke Sørensen told AFP.

Prince Joachim said he had “unfortunately” had no contact with his mother or elder brother Crown Prince Frederik since the queen’s announcement.

“It’s also family. Or whatever one could call it”, he told B.T.

In another swipe, his French-born wife Princess Marie said the couple’s relationship with Crown Prince Frederik and his Australian-born wife Mary was “complicated”.

The media then dug up another old family spat, namely Joachim and Marie’s claims that their 2019 move to Paris — where Joachim is the Danish embassy defence attache — was not of their “own choice”.

Yet the queen’s decision did not surprise royal watchers.

It’s “natural, reasonable and necessary”, said historian Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen.

The queen’s four other grandchildren born to Crown Prince Frederik, 54, will retain their titles.

Back in 2016 the queen decided however that when they come of age only the future king, Prince Christian, will receive an appanage.

Stripping Joachim’s children’s titles is just another move in the same direction, experts said.

“She has wisely chosen to do this herself and not to leave it to her successor, the Crown Prince”, Olden-Jørgensen said.

“It is much easier for her to do to this to her son than for him to do it later to his brother,” he added.

Nonetheless, the heated reactions by Joachim’s family “indicate there is a conflict and a total breakdown in communication,” columnist Jacob Heinel Jensen wrote in B.T.

The queen’s apology on Monday came in a statement.

“I have underestimated the extent to which my younger son and his family feel affected … and for that I am sorry,” she said.

“I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.”

An opinion poll conducted by Voxmeter suggested 50.6 percent of Danes support her decision while 23.3 percent disagree.

This is not the royal family’s first scandal, though rarely have they been so sensational.

In 2002, the late Prince Consort Henrik made headlines when he fled to his chateau in southern France to “reflect on life”, complaining he didn’t receive enough respect in Denmark, after Crown Prince Frederik was chosen to represent the queen at a New Year’s ceremony instead of him.

And just months before his 2018 death, Henrik, who suffered from dementia, announced he did not want to be buried next to his wife because he was never made her equal.