28 September 2022

Denmark: Changes in titles and forms of address in the Royal Family

The Danish Royal Court today announced changes in titles and styles for the children of Prince Joachim – Nikolai, Felix, Henrik and Athena – coming into force from 1 January 2023:

Changes in titles and forms of address in the Royal Family

In April 2008, Her Majesty The Queen bestowed upon her sons, their spouses and their descendants the titles of count and countess of Monpezat. In May 2016, it was also announced that His Royal Highness Prince Christian, as the only one of The Queen’s grandchildren, is expected to receive an annuity from the state as an adult.

As a natural extension of this, Her Majesty has decided that, as of 1 January 2023, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim’s descendants can only use their titles as counts and countess of Monpezat, as the titles of prince and princess that they have held up until now will be discontinued. Prince Joachim’s descendants will thus have to be addressed as excellencies in the future. The Queen’s decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years.

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.

All four grandchildren maintain their places in the order of succession.

When it on 30 April 2008 was announced that the Danish Queen had bestowed upon her sons, their spouses and their descendants the title Count and Countess of Monpezat, it was by many people interpreted as a signal for what would happen to Prince Joachim's grandchildren some time in the future – they would not become Prince or Princess of Denmark, but those in the agnatic line would be Count or Countess of Monpezat «only». Never had I expected that the Queen would make such a drastic decision retroactively. It would have made more sense, as already mentioned, if it had only affected future descendants of Prince Joachim, or at least when Prince Joachim's children got married. They could then have «been told» not to ask for consent so that the title question would be solved this way. I would still have preferred if Prince Joachim's children would have kept their titles for life, though. Under the House of Glücksburg the children of the monarch and of the heir apparent have been titled Prince or Princess of Denmark with the style Royal Highness, while children of collaterial lines in the male line have been Prince or Princess of Denmark with the style Highness (let's ignore the exception for Prince Valdemar's children for the sake of clarity). Other royal houses have also in the past made moves to «downsize» – in 2019 it was decided that the children of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine no longer were members of the royal house and that they also lost the style Royal Highness, but they kept the title Prince or Princess. When Sverre Magnus of Norway was born in 2005 he got the title Prince, but was not given the style Royal Highness and did not become a member of the royal house, only of the royal family, but at least this unprecedented decision was made before he was born and not later on.

Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg, former wife of Prince Joachim and mother of Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, have already made a statement as quoted by the Danish newspaper B.T.: «Vi er alle uforstående over for beslutningen. Vi er kede af det og i chok. Det her kommer som et lyn fra en klar himmel. Børnene føler sig udstødt. De kan ikke forstå, hvorfor deres identitet tages fra dem.» («We are all confused by the decision. We are saddened and in shock. This comes out of the blue. The children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them.») According to B.T. Countess Alexandra's statement is given on behalf of herself as well as of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie. If this move was made now in order to avoid any future conflicts over titles under the reign of Frederik, I am not convincved that it has been very successful.

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