Like most Britons, many Danes have only known one queen in their lifetime, a queen who was extremely popular and known for her sense of responsibility, fairness and commitment to her duties.
Danish Queen Margrethe announced on Sunday that she will step down this month. Those who pave the way for her are Prince Frederik, 55, to ascend the throne.
Like King Charles III of Great Britain, who became king after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Frederik is part of a younger generation of royals whose lives have been relentlessly documented by the media and who have embraced contemporary positions , mainly the fight against climate change.
While Queen Margrethe eleven shocked scientists for saying she wasn’t convinced climate change was directly caused by humans, her son is known for his concern about environmental issues.
Prince Frederik described how a trip to the Arctic permanently changed his perspective on the climate crisis, convincing him that it was his personal duty to speak out. He has attended United Nations climate summits and has given numerous speeches and interviews on environmental issues, highlighting the urgency for action and pushing investors to deploy capital to address global warming.
Pernille Almlund, a communications professor at Roskilde University in Denmark, said that, like most businesses, a modern royal family cannot refrain from getting involved in climate issues. “They also have a brand,” she said.
But Prince Frederik’s commitment to the environment has also raised some doubts among those who say that having members of the royal family call for emissions reductions while living in castles and traveling on private plans could prove counterproductive.
“The crown prince has to find a balance,” says Marie Ronde, a Danish journalist who covers the royals. said in an article on the website of the TV2 broadcaster. “There is a discrepancy between being climate friendly and showing grandeur and splendor.”
Charles’s recent coronation came as polls showed that Britons, particularly young people, were feeling a growing weariness of the hourly rituals and elaborate symbols of monarchy.
But royal watchers in Denmark say Prince Frederik has shown a penchant for modernizing the monarchy, at least in his tone. Lars Hovbakke Sorensen, an expert on the Danish royal family, said Prince Frederik was known for speaking with an open mind, without placing much emphasis on formality and titles.
“When several Danes met him and talked to him, they always had the feeling that they had just talked to Frederik,” Mr. Hovbakke Sorensen said. “And this is something that fits well with the times and the importance of the royal house which is renovated and gradually becomes more informal.”
Hovbakke Sorensen added that the Danish monarchy has already evolved much faster than the British crown and has become less traditional. It’s also much less lavish. Prince Frederik’s coronation on January 14 will not be an hours-long pageantry with a gold-decorated stagecoach and aerobatic jets – as was the case with Charles’s elevation – but will involve a simple proclamation by the prime minister at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.
The monarchy in Denmark is also less galvanizing. Debates about the royals flare up in the media from time to time, but the Danish monarchy does not face the same level of scandal, scrutiny and criticism as its British counterpart. Over 75% of the Danish population supports a form of government with a royal leader. By comparison, around 62% of Britons support maintaining the monarchy, according to a recent YouGov poll.
However, the media has closely observed the life of the Danish royals. In 1988, Danish journalists extensively covered a car accident Prince Frederik was involved in while in France after his younger brother lost control of their small Peugeot. Four years later, the prince was a passenger when the police stopped the car driven by his girlfriend; she was subsequently fined for driving under the influence and for not having a driving licence.
In a biography of the prince written by Jens Andersen, Frederik reportedly stated that in his youth, the prospect of becoming king was “a disadvantage” that made him insecure, shy and clumsy.
Over the years, however, the prince graduated from Aarhus University in Denmark and embarked on a long military career, serving in the army, air force and navy, where he was part of the elite maritime unit, the Frogman Corps.
As he became more familiar with his royal responsibilities, he said, the prospect of becoming king “moved from a certain form of fear to awe.”
Prince Frederik has also become known for his dedication to fitness, running marathons and completing an Ironman competition, and has publicly promoted healthy living and personal well-being.
On Monday evening, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made a last-minute change to the topic of her New Year’s Eve speech to focus on the royal succession.
“The queen said it in her own way: ‘I have a son in whom I have great faith,’” Ms. Frederiksen said.
“I can add that we also have this confidence,” he added. “Because we know our future king.”