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Queen Margrethe of Denmark Officially Abdicates, Making Her Son King Frederik

Queen Margrethe became the first Danish monarch to abdicate since 1146

<p>MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty </p> King Frederik and Queen Margrethe of Denmark as she signs abdication declaration on Jan. 14, 2024

MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

King Frederik and Queen Margrethe of Denmark as she signs abdication declaration on Jan. 14, 2024

Queen Margrethe of Denmark has abdicated the throne.

During a Council of State at Christiansborg Palace on Sunday, Queen Margrethe, 83, signed a declaration of her abdication, making her decision to step down as monarch official.

Queen Margrethe became monarch on Jan. 14, 1972, following the death of her father, King Frederik IX. Her abdication comes on the 52nd anniversary of her accession.

Her eldest son is now King Frederik, while his wife becomes his queen consort and known as Queen Mary.

<p>MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty </p> King Frederik and Queen Margrethe after she abdicated the throne on Jan. 14, 2024

MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

King Frederik and Queen Margrethe after she abdicated the throne on Jan. 14, 2024

Related: Why the New King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark Won't Have a Coronation Like King Charles

Queen Margrethe signed the document with her two immediate heirs beside her. The now-King Frederik sat directly next to his mother as she made her abdication official, and beside him was his 18-year-old son, now heir to the throne, Crown Prince Christian. Queen Mary did not attend because she is not a member of the Council of State.

After the signing, Queen Margrethe stepped aside and allowed King Frederik to take her spot at the head of the table, then exited the room.

<p>MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty </p> King Frederik and Queen Margrethe after her abdication on Jan. 14, 2024

MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

King Frederik and Queen Margrethe after her abdication on Jan. 14, 2024

The event was a low-key affair for a change of reign, with Queen Margrethe opting to recycle a pink ensemble that she previously wore to a Golden Jubilee event in 2022 and to Crown Prince Christian's 18th birthday event last year.

Queen Margrethe arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and left in a car, smiling and waving to the crowds gathered outside and waving flags.

The palace then shared the first official portrait of King Frederik on Instagram. "The portrait was taken by Dennis Stenild shortly before His Majesty the King (as Crown Prince) drove from Amalienborg to Christiansborg Castle," according to the social media post's caption.

An official proclamation of the change of reign by the prime minister then took place on Sunday from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, followed by King Frederik, 55, making a short speech and revealing his motto.

He was joined on the castle balcony by Queen Mary — with whom he shared an unexpected kiss! — and their four children.

Then, the transfer of the royal colors from Christian IX’s Palace (Queen Margrethe's residence) to Frederik VIII's Palace in Amalienborg (King Frederik's residence) will take place.

<p>BO AMSTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty</p> King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark make first appearance of reign with children on Jan. 14, 2024

BO AMSTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark make first appearance of reign with children on Jan. 14, 2024

During the events on Sunday, the royal family's website was down. A message said, "The official website of the Royal House of Denmark is temporarily unavailable while appropriate changes are made following the succession of the throne. In the meantime, please visit the Royal House of Denmark's official pages on Facebook and Instagram."

Queen Margrethe's decision to abdicate came as a shock, as she previously said she would rule for her entire life and the last Danish monarch's abdication was in 1146, according to The Guardian.

<p>IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty </p> Queen Margrethe on her abdication day on Jan. 14, 2024

IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

Queen Margrethe on her abdication day on Jan. 14, 2024

Queen Margrethe cited health concerns in her annual New Year's speech where she first announced her abdication.

"In February this year, I underwent extensive back surgery. Everything went well, thanks to the competent health personnel, who took care of me. Inevitably, the operation gave cause to thoughts about the future – whether now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation," she said, per an English translation of the official speech transcription. "I have decided that now is the right time. On 14 January 2024, 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father, I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I leave the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik."

<p>IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images</p> Queen Margrethe, King Frederik and Queen Mary on Jan. 3, 2024

IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Queen Margrethe, King Frederik and Queen Mary on Jan. 3, 2024

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There is speculation that the unexpected move came to bolster Frederik and Mary’s bond amid gossip of an affair. In November 2023, reports swirled that Frederik was having an affair with Mexican-born socialite Geneveva Casanova after they were photographed together in Madrid. Casanova denied allegations of a romantic relationship with Frederik, and the royal couple continued to display a united front in recent months.

Queen Mary, 51, is making history, becoming the first queen consort born in Australia.

Sunday's proclamation will mark the official change of reign — and King Frederik and Queen Mary will not be crowned in a coronation service.

Denmark's sovereign used to be welcomed with a coronation. Tatler reports that the first Danish coronation took place in 1170 with the reign of King Canute VI, but the practice changed in 1660 when Denmark became a hereditary monarchy. Kings and queens were still anointed (but no longer crowned) until 1849 when the switch was made to a constitutional monarchy. Now, they are proclaimed by the prime minister.

<p>JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty </p> King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark make first appearance of reign on Jan. 14, 2024

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty

King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark make first appearance of reign on Jan. 14, 2024

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