There won’t be a major banquet to celebrate Queen Margrethe II handing over the throne to her son and heir Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, on Sunday afternoon, but the day will still be a family occasion. According to a palace spokesperson, Margrethe’s younger son Prince Joachim will be present for the event but his wife, Princess Marie, will remain in the US with the couple’s two youngest children.
At a Wednesday press conference, the Kongehuset spokesperson Lene Balleby said that Joachim would be traveling to Denmark for the ceremony. According to Danish magazine Billed Bladet, she said that Marie would stay behind in Washington DC, where Joachim works for the Danish Embassy, because their children Count Henrik and Countess Athena must attend school. Balleby also announced that Jane Stephens, Mary’s sister from Australia, will be present on Sunday alongside the family.
Joachim’s return trip to Denmark will come just two weeks after he and Marie attended the royal family’s annual New Year’s Day dinner for government ministers at Christian VII’s Palace in the Amalienborg Complex. The banquet, part of the royals’ annual multi-day New Year’s celebrations, took place the night after Margrethe surprised the nation with her plan to abdicate during her televised New Year’s Eve speech.
On Wednesday, Balleby told the Danish newspaper Berlingske that Frederik and Joachim were both only informed of their mother’s plans to abdicate three days before she made the announcement. “I can confirm that the Queen informed both the Crown Prince and Prince Joachim about the decision on 28 December,” Balleby said. The short notice led one royal expert to speculate to Jyllands-Posten that Margrethe had only recently made the final decision herself.
Søren Gade, the speaker of Denmark’s parliament, the Folketing, explained in a statement that Sunday’s proceedings will bring on mixed emotions. “It will be a day with a mixture of sadness and anticipation. We must thank H.M. Queen Margrethe for all the years in which she has been a unifying center for the entire kingdom,” he said. “And we have to welcome Denmark’s new king and queen. For me, personally, it is a great honor to receive the new royal couple and the royal family on this historic day.”
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