The Danish Queen's decision to discontinue the royal titles for Prince Joachim's children, as announced on 28 September 2022, didn't go down so well as she might have expected. Both Prince Joachim, his former wife Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg and their eldest son Prince Nikolai – from 1 January 2023 Count Nikolai of Monpezat «only» – have been quite vocal about their disappointment. I have written about the title issue in blog articles of 28 and 29 September 2022. Since then there have been comments on the issue by the court, by Prince Joachim once again, by Crown Princess Mary and even the Queen's sister Princess Benedikte has butted in, before the court released a new statement from the Queen yesterday. I left for a long weekend in Oxford, England on Friday, so I haven't been able to follow up before now, so here is some sort of a summary.
On Thursday 29 September the head of the comnunications department at the Danish Royal Court, Lene Balleby said to the Danish magazine Billed-Bladet (I didn''t comment on it then) that for the Queen it was a well thought out decision for the benefit of the future of the royal house. – The Queen has a great sense of duty and differs between the royal house's public work and the family. As the Queen stated yesterday, the decision has been under consideration for some time. We understand well that there are many feelings on play at the moment, but we hope that the queen's wish to secure the future of the royal house will be respected.
Now, I wrote on Thursday that Prince Joachim's comments about identity was over the top and rather pompous, but I don't believe for a minute that the monarchy would be in danger if Prince Joachim's children had kept their titles for life.
On Friday 30 September Crown Princess Mary met the media in connection with an international youth conference at Øksnehallen in Copenhagen. She said: – I can understand that it is a difficult decision to take and a very difficult decision to receive. Change can be difficult and can be painful. But that doesn't mean that the decision is not the correct one. We will also have a look on our children's titles when the time comes. Today we don't know how the royal house is going to look like at the time of Christian [his regency] or when we are getting close to Christian's time [as regent].
Even Princess Benedikte has commented on the title issue: – Of course the decision will be difficult for them in the beginning, that is obvious, but my sister takes wise decisions also as queen and thinks aahead of time and not just here and now, and I think that is more important.
In an interview with the Danish newspaper B.T. on Saturday 1 October Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie add fuel to the fire when they told that their relationship with the Crown Prince couple was complicated and that the queen had not tried to get in touch with them. Prince Joachim, somewhat cryptically, adds: «Det er også familie. Eller hvad vi nu vil kalde det.» («This is also family. Or what we now should call it.»)
On Monday 3 October the court was forced to follow-up with a new statement from the queen, and a rather well-phrased statement at that:
Statement from HM The Queen
In recent days, there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim’s four children. That affects me, of course.
My decision has been a long time coming. With my 50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times. Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment.
Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family. This adjustment, which I view as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy, I want to take in my own time.
I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected. That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.
No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.
Later on Monday Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg's private secretary Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen assures us that there will be no more comments about the title issue from Prince Joachim, Princess Marie, Countess Alexandra, Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix for now. That is a wise decision. I don't think Prince Joachim's wining in public has helped his cause, but I can understand his frustration and his need to comment on the situation. He could have worded himself better, though.
Of course the queen's decision stands firm. Their Royal Highnesses Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix, Prince Henrik and Princess Athena will from 1 January 2023 be referred to as Their Excellencies Count Nikolai, Count Felix, Count Henrik and Countess Athena of Monpezat. The title issue has revealed, or rather confirmed, that the family relations within the Danish royal house are far from good. My impression is also that the queen, or her court, has not communicated the decision well to Prince Joachim and his children, and while I understand that the number of royals at some time had to be restricted, it was - on principle - not a well timed decision. It should have been done much earlier, or the decision should have only affected Prince Joachim's grand children. In other words the queen has got «a little scratch in her paint», but for someone who has done most things correctly over the years I guess we can forgive her for it.
I only hope that the troubled sea now will calm down and that all parts involved will manage to adjust to the new situation. And more importantly that the relationships eventually will improve, for the good of the royal house and the monarchy.