Thousands gathered on the streets of Copenhagen Sunday for a once-in-a-thousand-year event: the voluntary abdication of its queen. In an afternoon ceremony at Denmark’s Christiansborg Palace, Queen Margrethe II officially signed a declaration that voluntarily ended her 52-year reign—the longest of any of the country’s monarchs, ever. Once signed, the crown was officially transferred to her son, who will now be known as King Frederik X.
The handover had been in the works since the 83-year-old queen’s New Years address, when Margrethe announced to the country that she would step down on January 14, the same date she ascended to the throne following the death of her father in 1972. Her abdication was the first voluntary one for a Danish royal in 900 years: the last one was in 1146, when King Erik III Lam gave up the throne.
According to a royal spokesperson, Margrethe’s 55-year-old successor and his brother, Prince Joachim, were informed of her plans just three days before her public announcement. “It is my hope that the new King and Queen will be met with the same trust and devotion which have fallen to my lot,” she said in her address to the people. “They deserve it! Denmark deserves it!”
While there was not an elaborate coronation ceremony as one might see in other countries, the signing held earlier Sunday was a small but impactful affair, the Guardian reports. In the presence of Joachim and Danish officials, a magenta-clad Margrethe signed the final documents in the Council of State, then “left the room with tears in her eyes, saying: ‘God bless the king.’”
Meanwhile, over 100,000 people crowded the streets to hear Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen publicly declare Frederik king from a palace balcony. As the Associated Press notes, she followed Danish tradition by reading the proclamation three times, as Fredrik stood next to her in a ceremonial military uniform. (Frederik has trained in all three branches of the Danish Armed Forces, and has climbed its ranks over the past 30 years.)