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Danish Queen Margrethe announces surprise abdication after 52 years on the throne

In a surprise move Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has announced she will abdicate her role early in 2024, after a reign lasting more than five decades.

Margrethe, 83, will hand over the throne to her son, Crown Prince Frederik, she said in her traditional New Year’s Eve speech broadcast on Danish television.

She cited a back surgery in February 2023 as giving her thoughts about the future.

“In two weeks time I have been Queen of Denmark for 52 years,” she said.

“Such an amount will leave its mark on anybody – also on me! The time takes its toll, and the number of ‘ailments’ increases. One cannot undertake as much as one managed in the past,” she added.

“In February this year I underwent extensive back surgery,” she said. “Everything went well, thanks to the competent health personnel, who took care of me. Inevitably, the operation gave cause to thoughts about the future – whether now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.

“I have decided that now is the right time,” she said.

“On 14th January, 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I will hand over the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik.

Queen Margrethe II took over the throne on 14 January 1972 following the death of King Frederik IX.

After the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II last year Margrethe became the longest-serving monarch in Europe.

Prince Frederik will take over the throne as His Majesty King Frederik X in January, the Danish Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

After a meeting in the Council of State, the Prime Minister will proclaim the change of throne at Christiansborg Castle.

The Queen will continue to be titled as Her Majesty following the handover.

Denmark’s royals have a limited role under the country’s constitution, with power resting with parliament. Monarchs play an important ambassadorial role as well as signing off on new legislation.

Margrethe has throughout her life enjoyed broad support from Danes, Reuters reports.

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