The Danish royal house just got a lot smaller.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has decided to strip four of her grandchildren of their prince and princess as well as "His/Her Highness" titles, the royal palace announced on Wednesday. The children of Prince Joachim, her second son, will be known instead by His Excellency Count of Monpezat or Her Excellency Countess of Monpezat starting on January 1, 2023.
All four grandchildren — Nikolai, 23, Felix, 20, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10 — maintain their places in the order of succession. They are currently seventh through tenth in the line to the throne.
"With her decision, Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren 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," the palace said in the statement.
Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Queen Margrethe with Prince Joachim and his family
Nikolai and Felix are the sons of Prince Joachim and his first wife, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg. Prince Joachim got remarried to Princess Marie in 2008, and they later welcomed Henrik and Athena.
The decision does not pertain to the four children of Crown Prince Frederik, who is heir to the throne, with his wife, Crown Princess Mary. Unlike their cousins, Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 15, and 11-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine will both continue to be part of the royal house.
Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Prince Vincent, Crown Prince Frederik, Princess Isabella, Queen Margrethe, Prince Christian, Princess Josephine and Crown Princess Mary
The Danish palace also noted that "the Queen's decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years." Similarly, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf announced in October 2019 that the children of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill as well as Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia would no longer be official members of the royal house. They retained their titles of prince or princess, but the titles became personal and any future spouses or children will not have a right to them.
MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Prince Felix, Princess Marie, Prince Joachim, Princess Athena, Prince Henrik and Prince Nikolai
Princess Madeleine responded to the news on Instagram, writing: "Earlier today, the court announced that Leonore, Nicolas and Adrienne will no longer belong to the royal house. This change has been planned for a long time. Chris and I think it's good that our children are now getting a greater opportunity to shape their own lives as private individuals in the future."
Prince Carl Philip also shared his thoughts on Instagram, writing: "Today, the King announced the decision that our children no longer hold the Royal Highness position. We see this as positive as Alexander and Gabriel will have freer choices in life." (Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia later welcomed a third son, Prince Julian.)
Following Queen Elizabeth of the U.K.'s death on September 8, her eldest son Charles became King and announced that his wife Camilla would be his Queen Consort. He also said that his son Prince William and daughter-in-law Kate Middleton would inherit the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales. The royal family's website was updated to reflect these changes, but Prince Harry and Meghan's children were still referred to as "Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor" and "Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor."
Behind the scenes, there have been arguments over titles for Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1.
Under current guidelines, grandchildren of a British monarch could be princes or princesses. A rule established by King George V after he issued a Letters Patent in 1917 read: "…the grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of these our realms."
Phil Noble-WPA Pool/Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Margrethe is Europe's only female ruling monarch.
Having reigned for more than 50 years since her father King Frederick IX died in 1972, she's now also the longest-serving current head of state.
Queen Margrethe became the first woman allowed to inherit the throne in her country after the 1953 Act of Succession "gave women the right of succession to the Danish Throne... however only secondarily," according to Denmark's official website. The Act of Succession was amended again in 2009, "when full equality in the succession to the throne was introduced," per Denmark's website. "That means the regent's oldest child — regardless of gender — inherits the throne (so-called primogeniture)."