14 February 2018

Death of HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark

Photo: Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0).

The Royal Court in Copenhagen announced early this morning the death of Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark:
His Royal Highness Prince Henrik died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday 13 February at 11.18 pm, at Fredensborg Palace.

Her Majesty the Queen and the two sons were at his side.
Prince Henrik was 83 years old. He was transferred from Rigshospitalet to Fredensborg Palace earlier on Tuesday to spend his remaining time there. No cause of death has been made public, but he suffered among others from a lung infection, which caused his hospitalisation in late January 2018.

Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat was born on 11 June 1934 in Talence outside Bordaux in France as the second child and eldest son of André de Laborde de Monpezat (1907–1998) by his wife, Renée Doursenot (1908–2001). His siblings were Françoise (b. 1932), Anne Marie (b. 1935), Joseph (1939–1957), Therese (1940–1959), Étienne (b. 1942), Jean-Baptiste (b. 1943), Catherine (b. 1946) and Maurille (1947–2015).

 Coat of arms of the family of De Laborde de Monpezat. Photo: «Sococan», Wikimedia Commons.

Henri, who was raised Catholic, married Princess Margrethe of Denmark at Holmens Church in Copenhagen, Denmark on 10 June 1967 and was created Prince of Denmark with the style of Royal Highness. He went by the Danish version Henrik. Princess Margrethe succeeded to the throne in 1972 following the death of her father, King Frederik IX. From 2005 until 2016 Prince Henrik used the title HRH The Prince Consort. Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe had two sons, Crown Prince Frederik, b. 1968, and Prince Joachim, b. 1969, and 8 grandchildren.

Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe in 2010: Photo: Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0).
As a child Prince Henrik lived a few years in Vietnam due to his father's work there, but returned to France in 1939. He received education at his home in Cahours until 1947 when he attended a jesuit boarding school in Bordaux, before continuing his education at Cahors Gymnasium. At the age of 16 he went to Hanoi where he graduated from the city's French Gymnasium in 1952. For the next few five years Prince Henrik studied law and political science at Sorbonne in Paris as well as oriental languages (Vietnamese and Chinese (Mandarin?)) at École Nationale des Langues Orientales. He later continued his oriental language studies in Hong Kong and in Saigon.

Following military service, Prince Henrik worked as a diplomat, among others at the French Embassy in London, where he met the then Princess Margrethe for the first time in 1965. They got engaged in October the year after.

 Prince Henrik in 1966. Photo: The Dutch National Archives/Wikimedia Commons.

Court mourning

It has been announced that the Court will be in mourning from today until 14 March 2018:
In the period of mourning, Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family and the Court will not participate in social or entertainment events. During the Court mourning, dark clothing will be worn at public appearances. Personnel in uniform will wear black armbands on the upper part of the left arm.
A mourning salute of 27 shots will take place on Thursday 15  February at 8 a.m.

King Harald of Norway, who has expressed his condolences, has decided that the Norwegian state flag to fly on half staff from the palace balcony today and at the day of the funeral.

The Royal Palace in Oslo earlier today. Photos: © 2018 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

Funeral service 

Following the mourning salute, Prince Henrik's coffin will be brought from Fredensborg Palace to Amalienborg at 10 a.m. On Friday his coffin will be transferred to Christiansborg Palace Church, where the funeral service will take place on Tuesday 20 February. It will not be a state funeral, but a private service for the family and a few friedns. Bishop emeritus Erik Norman Svendsen will conduct the service.

Prince Henrik declared last year that he did not wish to be interred together with Queen Margrethe at Roskilde Cathedral. In accordance with his own wishes, he will be cremated and half of his ashes will be spread at sea in Danish waters, while the other half will be spread in the gardens of Fredensborg Palace (cf. The Local). The newspaper Politiken claims, and this version seems to be more likely, that an urn with half of the ashes will be interred in the Palace Gardens at Fredensborg. I understand that it will be in the private part of the royal gardens, which is open to the public in the summer only. I suppose a headstone will mark where his ashes will be interred. When Prince Henrik first decided to break from the tradition to be interred in Roskilde Cathedral, I think his solution makes sense. It is good that his family will be able to visit his urn grave at Fredensborg whenever they feel for it in such a private setting.

Links to obituaries and other articles in English
In the latter obituary The Telegraph wrongly states that «He declared that he would be buried in France, on the grounds that the admirable Queen Margrethe had not been a supportive wife. Many Danes were upset by his treatment of the Queen and some took the line that since he felt like this, it was fine to send his body back to France.»

This is not accurate, as the court made it clear that Prince Henrik was going to be buried in Denmark, not in France.

How Prince Henrik will be remembered

So many things can be said about Prince Henrik, most of them good. It is not so easy to describe him in my own words, but I will make it a try. He was certainly one of the most interesting and colourful personalities within the Royal Family of Europe. Yes, he had difficulties with accepting his role walking two steps behind his wife. And while one can understand the principles behind his view that he should have been styled as King Consort when Margrethe became Queen in 1972, the self-centred way he too many times demonstrated his views were uncalled for. The decision not to be buried together with his wife and his claim that his wife had made him look like a clown could partly be explained by his illness. As I wrote last September, I hope that the Danes and the rest of the world will first of all remember his many years of tireless work for the good of Denmark. He was highly intelligent, spoke many languages (but his Danish was always spoken with a heavy accent), loved cooking, wine and poetry, wrote his memoirs and several other books, was always the first one out on the dancing floor. He was certainly respected by the Danes, but might not have been fully accepted. Maybe his personality and intellectuality was just «too much». He was charming and outspoken, had  agreat sense of humour and could certainly laugh of himself. But he also had a difficultg temper and has been described as an authoritarian, for instance in the way be brought up his sons. But first of all he was a loving husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather and with a large circle of friends. He will be greatly missed by them all.

 Prince Henrik's monogram. Photo: «Glasshouse»/Wikimedia Commons.

 Coat of arms of Prince Henrik of Denmark. Photo: «Sococan», Wikimedia Commons.

Updated on Tuesday 20 February 2018 at 21:50 in order to correct information about Prince Henrik's siblings. Last time updated on Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 08.30 (name of Prince Henrik's brother Jean corrected from «Jean» to «Jean-Baptiste»).


  1. I believe prince Henrik had more siblings. There are his sisters Francoise, (madame Bardin) and sister Catherine, a catolic nun. She was seen in Copenhagen this week. And one of his brothers is Jean-Baptiste, who with Etienne is the surviving brothers.

  2. You are of course correct. Somehow I forgot to mention Francoise as well as Catherine, even though I had updated information available at Nobiliana.de. How silly of me. I had listed Jean, though, but it should perhaps be written Jean-Baptiste?

  3. As far as I know, the royal court always refers to him as Jean-Baptiste, and even on the guestlist today. Thank you for your informative blog!

  4. Thanks! I have updated the article regarding Jean-Baptiste.