‘I haver never seen such cold eyes’: Denmark’s Queen remembers meeting Putin

Queen Margrethe has spoken about her two meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin around a decade ago in a forthright interview with a Danish newspaper.

'I haver never seen such cold eyes': Denmark’s Queen remembers meeting Putin
Queen Margrethe in Copenhagen last year. The Queen has spoken about meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin in a newspaper interview. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

When Queen Margrethe met the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, back in 2011 and 2014, she did not get a positive impression of him.

“I remember thinking he was not pleasant. I have never seen such cold eyes in my life,” the Queen said in an extensive interview with the broadsheet Weekendavisen newspaper. 

In 2011, Queen Margrethe was on a state visit to Russia with Prince Henrik. At the time, Vladimir Putin was Prime Minister and the official host was then-President Dmitry Medvedev.

Three years later, she met Putin again in connection with the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings in France during the Second World War.

In the interview, the Queen said she was closely following the war in Ukraine, which began almost a year ago following Russia’s invasion.

She said she “reads all the newspapers almost daily” to keep updated on the war.

She said she was pleased that Kyiv will be receiving tanks donated by allied countries.

“They need something heavy. And they have shown that they can use it. It’s deeply impressive,” she said.

“Putin thought he could divide all of Europe but he made us all stand together. It meant something that we could all be a population that said: ‘No, this can’t be right’. That is very strong,” the Queen said.

She meanwhile praised Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the way he “goes as one with his people”.

In her traditional New Year speech on December 31st, the Queen also sent her wishes to Ukraine.

“Heroically they fight for their freedom. That makes a strong impression on us all,” she said in the speech.

In addition to her comments on Ukraine, the Queen also spoke about her “friendly relationship” with Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died last year.

Queen Margrethe described Queen Elizabeth as a role model and mentioned their “parallel fates” of becoming monarchs despite not being born as direct heirs to their respective thrones.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s Queen Margrethe to undergo ‘serious’ back operation

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Denmark’s Queen Margrethe to return to public duty on 83rd birthday

Queen Margrethe is scheduled to return to public duty on April 16th, her 83rd birthday, following a period of convalescence after a back operation.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe to return to public duty on 83rd birthday

The Queen’s return to public duty on her birthday was announced in a palace statement on Thursday.

“On this occasion, Her Majesty and The Royal Family will appear on the balconies at Christian IX’s Palace at Amalienborg at 12pm,” the palace said.

“It is expected that The Queen will resume her duties as the country’s sovereign the same day after her successful back operation in February,” it continued.

“The Queen’s physical rehabilitation is going well, but there will continue to be a number of major tasks that The Queen cannot carry out as planned in the coming months. Information about this will be shared on an ongoing basis,” it said.

Crown Prince Frederik has stood in for the Queen on official duties during her absence.

READ ALSO: Danish queen out of hospital after back surgery

To mark the Queen’s birthday, the Danish Royal Life Guard regiment will be in red gala uniforms and spectators will be able to watch a grand changing of the guard in front of the palace at royal residence Amalienborg in Copenhagen at 11:50am.

It is five years since the Queen last marked her birthday by greeting the public from the Amalienborg balcony, an otherwise regular tradition. The custom has in recent years been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, while the Queen was at Marselisborg in Aarhus in 2022.

The 82-year-old, Europe’s longest reigning monarch, underwent a “major” back operation last month at Rigshospitalet, Denmark’s largest hospital.

The exact nature of the operation has not been specified. The Queen underwent a lumbar canal operation 20 years ago.

The Queen, who was widowed in 2018, is extremely popular in Denmark. More than 80 percent of Danes say they support the monarchy, with thousands turning out to celebrate her 50th jubilee last year.