22 January 2024

Denmark: The declaration of abdication exempted from publicity

In connection with Queen Margrethe II's abdication on 14 January 2024, I expected that the text of the declaration of abdication would be made public some way or another later the same day, or at least be announced in Lovtidende, the Danish Legal Gazette, at the first opportunity. But when it was not announced on 15 January, as I wrote about the same day, I started to wonder if the declaration was to exempted from publicity. I sent an e-mail to the Prime Minister's Office about it, but has so far not received a reply.

Last Friday, 19 January 2024, Rigsarkivet, the Danish National Archives, confirmed on it's Facebook page that the declaration had been received:


Rigsarkivaren har modtaget den abdikationserklæring, som Dronningen underskrev under Statsrådet på Christiansborg Slot, hvor Kronprinsen overtog tronen som H.M. Kong Frederik 10. Vi har set frem til at modtage erklæringen, og nu har vores arkivarer registreret og lagt den i Rigsarkivets sikrede magasiner, så den er blevet en del af Danmarks hukommelse.

In translation:

The National Archivist has received the declaration of abdication which the Queen signed during the Council of State at Christiansborg Palace, where the Crown Prince acceeded to the throne as H.M. King Frederik 10. We have looked forward to receiving the declaration, and now our archivists have registered and stored it in the National Archives's secured stockroom, so it has become a part of Denmark's memory. 
When someone asked to see the declaration, the reply was that «Abdikationserklæringen opbevares fysisk i Rigsarkivet og scannes og offentliggøres ikke.» («The declaration of abdication is being physically kept in the National Archives and is not scanned and made public.»). When asked why, Rigsarkivet referred to the archives act. At Rigsarkivet's website we are informed that cases (documents) concerning the Royal House have a 100 years long publication ban, so unless decided otherwise the text of the declaration of abdication will not be made public until 2124!

I know that the Danish royal house is very secretive and the admission to reading documents in the royal archives are severly restricted, but not making the declaration of abdication public, it is after all a constitutional act which relates to who the head of state is and from when, is just absurd. I am a bit surprised that the question of making the declaration public has not been debated in the Danish media and by scholars (historians, jurists, political scientists). 

By the way, Queen Margrethe signed two copies of the declaration of abdication, as seen on TV. One copy is kept by the National Archives, while the second, as far as I understand it, is kept by the archives of Folketinget, the Danish Parliament.

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NB! Please see follow-up article published 31 January 2024 where the declaration of abdication is included.

Updated on Thursday 1 February 2024 at 11:00 (link to follow-up article added).

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