Queen Margrethe has decided to strip four of her grandchildren, the children of her second son Prince Joachim, of their prince and princess titles as of January 1st, the palace said in a statement.
The four grandchildren will retain other titles as counts and countesses of Monpezat.
“Prince Joachim’s descendants will thus have to be addressed as excellencies in the future. The Queen’s decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years,” the palace said.
The Queen wants to give the four children freedom to “be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves,” it said.
The four grandchildren are Nikolai, age 23 and Felix, age 20, from Prince Joachim’s first marriage to Countess Alexandra; and Henrik (13) and Athena (10) with his current wife, Princess Marie.
Prince Joachim is the younger of the Queen’s two children. His older brother, Crown Prince Frederik, is the heir to the Danish throne. The decision does not affect Crown Prince Frederik’s children, who will still have the title of prince or princess.
Newspaper BT reported on Wednesday that Prince Joachim, Princess Marie and Countess Alexandra were not expecting the decision.
“We are all uncomprehending over this decision. We are sad and in shock. It comes as a bolt of lightning. The children feel rejected. They can’t understand why their identity is being taken from them,” BT quotes Countess Alexandra as saying on behalf of herself, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie.
In the statement, the palace said the move was a long-term progression of an earlier decision made in relation to Crown Prince Frederik’s oldest child, 15-year-old Prince Christian, who is second in line to the throne.
“In May 2016, it was… announced that His Royal Highness Prince Christian, as the only one of The Queen’s grandchildren, is expected to receive an annuity from the state as an adult [when he turns 16, ed.],” it said.
“As a natural extension of this, Her Majesty has decided that [as of January 1st], His Royal Highness Prince Joachim’s descendants can only use their titles as counts and countess of Monpezat, as the titles of prince and princess that they have held up until now will be discontinued,” it said.
All four grandchildren keep their places in the order of succession.