29 September 2022

Denmark: More about the changes in titles and forms of address in the Royal Family

The Danish Royal Court announced yesterday that the royal titles of Prince or Princess for Prince Joachim's children – Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix, Prince Henrik and Princess Athena – would be discontinued from 1 January 2023, and that they from that day on would «only» be referred to as Count or Countess of Monpezat. 

Prince Joachim's former wife, Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg, said in a statement that «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.» 

The head of the Communications Office of the Royal House, Lene Balleby, told the Danish newspaper Politiken yesterday that Prince Joachim in early May had been informed about the decision to take the royal title away from his children: «The decision has naturally had different forms during the process, and there have been different considerations, but Prince Joachim has been involved and informed about the progress.»

Prince Joachim says in a telephone interview with the Danish newspaper B.T. this morning that Balleby's comments was  «a truth with modifications». He said that he was informed about the plan to remove the titles on 5 May this year. The propisal was then that the children would lose their royal titles when they turned 25. Prince Joachim had asked for some time to think it over and possibly return with his own proposal. The decision was speeded up, and he got 5 days' notice before the decision was announced. He had no idea why the decision was speeded up. «I got five days' notice to tell my children that from next year their identity would be taken away from them. I am saddeded to see them saddened and puzzled by the decision, which takes place above their heads.» Joachim continues: «My children don't know which leg they should stand on. What should they believe? Why should their identity be taken away? Why should they be punished this way?» The prince tells that the whole family has been affected by the situation.

Prince Joachim's eldest son, Prince Nikolai, has been quoted as saying to Ekstra Bladet that «My whole family and myself are of course very saddened by it. We are, as my parents have also stated, in shock by the decision, and how fast it [the decision making] has taken.»

The reactions are strong, as most would imagine, although some of the statements seem a bit pompous and over the top. It is difficult to believe that their identity should stand or fall on having a royal title. They will need to adjust and will in time get used to it. But I think the court – and Queen Margrethe – could have handled this better, and much earlier. It is in my opinion – as I also wrote yesterday – about principles. Such decisions should not be taken retroactively. Yes, of course I agree that something had to be done about the title situation. The royal titles could not have been continued in all eternity. It is Crown Prince Frederik's line that will represent the royal house in the future, so there is no need for a bunch of princes and princesses who are not «working royals». But I think there were only two good alternatives: either the children should not have received titles from the beginning, or it should be stopped with Joachim's children so that his grandchildren would «only» be Counts or Countesses of Monpezat (yes. I know that the title was created in 2008, but this could nevertheless have been solved at the time of Nikolai's birth). Constitutionally speaking it is much more difficult to take someone's right away than to give one. If the court had had some patience, they could wait and see if Crown Prince Frederik would finally settle down and have his own family or not. If he remained a bachelor, Prince Joachim's children could then be upgraded. One can now only hope that the relations within the Danish royal family will not remain strained for too long.

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