70th Birthday of Queen Margrethe

Friday, April 16 marks the 70th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, Margethe II. A multitude of Europe's royalty- most of whom are related to the Queen- gathered in Copenhagen on Friday to join in the birthday celebrations. Along with the Queen's immediate family- her husband, Prince Henrik; their eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Mary; their second son, Prince Joachim and his wife, Marie- the Queen's other notable relatives were among the guests.

The Queen's two sisters - Princess Benedikte and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece - were present, as were Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, the Prince of Orange and his wife, Princess Maxima, King Carl Gustav XVI and Queen Silvia of Sweden, the Crown Princess of Sweden, and the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway. The previous evening there was a dazzling gala at the Royal Theatre where all the royals turned up in their gowns, tiaras and uniforms. Friday afternoon saw the royals venture out in the streets to see the cheering crowds. It was a lively event that served to display the Queen's incredible popularity among the Danish people. Copenhagen police were called in to briefly disband a small group of anti-monarchist protestors, but aside from that and an unforeseen natural disaster, the celebrations went smoothly.

A number of other European royals had to cancel their trips to Denmark due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland that disrupted air travel all across Europe. The Duke of Edinburgh was unable to leave London, and the King of the Belgians and the King and Queen of Spain were all unable to fly out of their respective countries. (Ironically, Margethe's grandfather, King Christian X, was also King of Iceland until 1944, when Iceland officially broke from its union with the Kingdom of Denmark.)

Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was born April 16, 1940 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, the first child of Crown Prince and Princess Frederick of Denmark. Like most of the present European royals, Margrethe is a descendant of both Queen Victoria of Great Britain and King Christian IX of Denmark. At the time of her birth, Margethe's uncle, Prince Knud, was second-in-line to the throne behind Crown Prince Frederick, who succeeded his father as King Frederick IX in 1947. Following Frederick's accession, there was debate over whether his successor should be his brother or one of his three daughters. On March 27, 1953, a referendum was held that resulted in the granting of cognatic primogeniture, which meant that a daughter of the sovereign would inherit the throne if she had no brothers. Thus, Knud place in the succession was usurped, and Margethe found herself the heiress presumptive.

She married French-born Henri de Laborde de Monpezat in 1967, with whom she has two sons- Frederik, born 1968, and Joachim, born 1969. Following their marriage, Henri became known as His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark.

Frederick IX died in 1972, and Margethe became queen at the age of 32. Within Denmark, she is a highly respected and extremely popular figure, praised for her polite frankness, her interests in music, art and literature, and is also praised for a family that has avoided the scandal that has plagued a number of her fellow monarchs' children.

Queen Margethe and Prince Henrik wave to the crowds during the Queen's birthday celebrations.

Left to right: Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

Anne-Marie, the former Queen of Greece and youngest sister of Queen Margrethe, arrives at the Royal Theatre for the Queen's birthday gala.

Princess Benedikte, sister of Queen Margrethe II, arrives for the Queen's birthday gala.

Prince Carl-Philip of Sweden, his sister Crown Princess Victoria, and her fiance Daniel Westerling arrive for Queen Margrethe's birthday celebration.

The Danish royal family wave to the crowds following Queen Margrethe II's 70th birthday celebrations.