Why republicanism would get short shrift in Denmark

Britain's royal family might well envy Queen Margrethe, writes Imre Karacs

The souvenir stalls of Copenhagen are groaning under royal memorabilia. Almost every day a new book appears, promising another revelation, but delivering little more than insights into the sovereign's passion for embroidery.

Still, the commemorative issues and kitsch marking the silver jubilee of Queen Margrethe II are selling well. Not all Danes will be celebrating this week's anniversary with frenzied passion, but most will be quietly rejoicing that, after 25 years on the throne, she is still going strong.

Of referendums to end the monarchy there is not a whisper. Margrethe and the institution she embodies is popular, to the extent that, if Denmark were to become by some act of God a republic overnight, "she would be elected its president," according to a royal-watcher.

Margrethe's relationship with her subjects and the press might well be envied by her second cousin in England. Instead of pursuing her relentlessly, Danish tabloids meekly follow her weekly agenda, and are first to leap to her defence when her honour has been slighted.

This happened last week, when a Swedish paper denounced her because of her smoking. The Swedish ruler, the journalist noted, smoked out of the range of the cameras, whereas Margrethe puffed away publicly even while visiting a care centre for asthmatics, ashtray-bearing servants in tow.

"Let the Queen smoke in peace," thundered a Danish tabloid; "Mind your own business, Sweden", screamed Copenhagen's equivalent of the Sun. The Swedish press had to apologise, hiring an electronic billboard in Copenhagen to flash the message: "Our readers beg the Queen's pardon".

Today Margrethe hosts a thanksgiving service for her closet-smoking relatives in Scandinavia, and tomorrow she will ride through Copenhagen in a carriage procession, and attend a command performance of the Danish Royal Ballet in the evening. That will be the end of the pageantry - a small celebration for a no-frills household that prides itself on its low cost to the tax- payer and even lower profile.

The royal family consists of six people - the Queen Mother, the Queen and her Consort, two princes and one princely wife. They all go about their business without fuss, on foot rather than bicycles, and conduct themselves admirably. The abiding image is of the Queen returning to the Amalienborg Palace from a day's shopping, laden with carrier bags.

Margrethe meets her ministers every week, and while she does not intervene directly in political matters, she can be outspoken on moral issues. In her New Year messages she often scolds Danes for their shortcomings, urging them repeatedly to open their society to foreigners. She is married to one herself, a French aristocrat named Henri de Monpezat, and her daughter- in-law hails from Hong Kong.

Unlike some of her relatives abroad, the Queen combines moral authority with intellectual prowess. She speaks English, French, German and Swedish fluently, has studied archaeology, philosophy and law at Cambridge, the LSE, the Sorbonne and Danish universities. Her CV also credits her with the translation of a book by Simone de Beauvoir, illustrations for the Danish edition of Lord of the Rings, and abstract paintings that have been exhibited and favourably reviewed.

There are, naturally, some flaws in her character but she makes no attempt to hide them. She is headstrong, has a sharp tongue, keeps her family on a tight rein, and admits that, in the 57th year of her life, she is showing no sign of mellowing with age. With no major scandals lurking, the Danish press can only fawn. "I wish I could tell you about some bad things, but there just aren't any," said Bo Draebel, court correspondent of Copenhagen's leading broadsheet, Berlingske Tidende. "Our royal family know how to behave. In a small country, we would know if they didn't."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor