A monarch was nicknamed Lilibet; the other, Daisy. One was the longest-reigning royal in Britain, adept at disarming world leaders with humour. The other was educated in Cambridge, is often seen with a cigarette dangling from her lips and jumped up roller coaster in May on the occasion of its golden jubilee.
Though they ruled from capitals hundreds of miles apart in Europe, they occasionally met and spilled tea over family, children, and other matters.
When Lilibet, better known Queen Elizabeth II, died last Thursday at the age of 96, Daisy, also known as Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, became the reigning queen in Europe.
Elizabeth reigned for 70 years. Margrethe has been at the helm of one of the oldest monarchies in Europe for 50 years. As news of the death of the British royal family flooded the world, Margrethe, 82, shelved plans to celebrate her own anniversary. a moment of silence and quickly sent a sad letter to Elizabeth’s eldest son, King Charles III, stating, “We will miss her terribly.”
More than friends, the queens shared a lineage relationship with Queen Victoria. When they felt sorry, Margrethe remembered in… an interview with British broadcaster ITV News in May, they used their nicknames and had an “affectionate” rapport.
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Margrethe, the eldest of three daughters of King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid, came in line to the throne at the age of 13 when Denmark made a constitutional amendment to allow female succession and the king surrendered his brother for his daughter.
Much of her education took place in Britain: Margrethe attended boarding school there, attended Cambridge University to study archeology, and spent time at the London School of Economics.
In 1966, while hurtling through New York on her way to Latin America, she paused for an interview with The New York Times. She allowed that, although she was going to try out her Spanish on her tour: “I don’t know if it will work.”
“I speak English, French and I wouldn’t starve in Germany,” she said at the time.
After the Danish parliament approved her engagement to Count Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat, a French diplomat who was a member of the nobility, they married in 1967. (The wedding was postponed a bit so that her pregnant sister Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.) According to news reports, the couple flew to the Mexican island of Cozumel for their honeymoon.
Margrethe joined the litter after her father died in January 1972. At the time, most Danes considered the royal family an anachronism in a modern democracy. But now surveys show that the majority support the Danish monarchy.
Perhaps not least thanks to Queen Margrethe.
She is extremely popular in Denmark and is praised for modernize the monarchy. There is an artistic streak through her: she has illustrated “Lord of the Ring” books under a pseudonym, reports say, and has created museum-worthy works of art.
Crown Prince Frederik of her two sons is standing in line to succeed her. But Queen Margrethe swears, “I’ll stay on the throne until I drop.”
After personally avoiding major scandals during her reign, the Queen faced a doozy in 2017 when her own husband went full out on a grudge he’d held for 50 years.
Prince Henrik was annoyed that he was not called a king – or at least a royal consort – and lamented for a long time that he did not have his own money.
“The first hint came around his 50th birthday, when he said on TV that he found it difficult to ask his wife for pocket money for cigarettes,” said Stephanie Surrugue, a journalist and author of a biography of the prince.
He eventually got a salary, but it was no salve for his wounds. At the age of 83, Henrik, in an epic fit of royal pique, announced that he no longer wanted to be buried next to the Queen.
Six months later, the prince was dead. After a small service, he was cremated, local reports said. Half of his as were scattered across Danish waters, and the others were buried in the private gardens of a castle north of Copenhagen.
Alain Delaqueriere research contributed.