Denmark's prince who never got to be king dies at 83

Prince Henrik announced last year that he did not wish to be buried next to his wife, Queen Margrethe, who he said had never acknowledged him as her equal.
Prince Henrik announced last year that he did not wish to be buried next to his wife, Queen Margrethe, who he said had never acknowledged him as her equal.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

COPENHAGEN • Denmark's Prince Henrik has died at 83, taking to the grave his resentment at playing second fiddle to his wife, Queen Margrethe.

The Prince died in his sleep on Tuesday, the palace said, adding that it would respect his wish not to be buried in a tomb prepared for him and the Queen.

The Prince resented not being named king in 2016 and renounced the title of prince consort, spending much of his time at a chateau in a vineyard in south-western France. However, he remained married to the Queen, and officially still lived with her.

Breaking a 459-year-old tradition, the Prince, in August last year, announced that he did not wish to be buried next to the Queen, who he said had never acknowledged him as her equal. The palace announced soon after that he had dementia.

As in most monarchies, a Danish princess becomes queen when her husband takes the throne, but a man does not become king simply by being married to a queen.

After a 2009 Danish referendum supported sexual equality in royal successions, the Prince said: "I hope that men will be as equal as girls."

There was support in Parliament briefly for a push to grant him the title of king, but it came to nothing.

Instead of being buried in a sarcophagus prepared for him and his wife in Roskilde Cathedral, Prince Henrik's body will be cremated.

Half the ashes will be scattered in Danish waters and the other half buried in the garden of the Fredensborg Castle, north of Copenhagen, where he died.

Born Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat in France in 1934, the Prince married Margrethe in 1967. They have two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

Both loved and criticised by the Danes for his aristocratic manner - exemplified by his colourful clothes and thick French accent - the Prince in recent years found support particularly among youth for breaking with Danish norms.

Known for his love of wine and food, the Prince also wrote poetry, made sculptures and published cookery books. He was diagnosed with a benign tumour two weeks ago, and was later transferred from a Copenhagen hospital to Fredensborg Castle, where he had wanted to spend his last days.

The funeral service, a ceremony for his family at the Christiansborg palace church in Copenhagen, will be held on Tuesday.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'Denmark's prince who never got to be king dies at 83'. Print Edition | Subscribe