Margrethe Alexandrine Pórhildur Ingrid was born at Amalienborg, Copenhagen, on 16 April 1940 and is the eldest daughter of Frederick IX of Denmark and Ingrid of Sweden.
Margrethe was named after her maternal grandmother, Margaret of Connaught, her grandfather’s first wife and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. As the eldest of three daughters born to their parents, the Danish constitution had to be changed to allow Margrethe to succeed her father and the new Act of Succession allowed for male-preference cognatic primogeniture which meant Margrethe would inherit provided she didn’t have a brother.
When Margrethe turned eighteen she was given a seat in the Council of State which allowed her to chair the meetings of the Council in the absence of her father. As heir apparent, Margrethe travelled abroad as a representative of her country and is fluent in Danish, French, English, Swedish and German.
On 10 June 1967, Margrethe married Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, a French diplomat, at the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen. As a result of Margrethe’s rank, Henri received the style and title of His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark, although he would often bemoan the fact he was never allowed to become king when Margrethe succeeded. Margrethe gave birth to her first child on 26 May 1968 and the boy was named Frederik in accordance to the Danish tradition of alternately the names Frederick or Christian. Since her father was a Frederick, Margarethe chose to maintain the tradition by assuming the position of a Christian, leaving her son to be named Frederik. In his turn, Frederik’s eldest son was named Christian when he was born on 15 October 2005. Margrethe gave birth to her second son, Joachim, on 7 June 1969.
On 14 January 1972, Margrethe ascended the throne after the death of her father and she was proclaimed Queen of Denmark from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace the following day. Margrethe chose to relinquish all the monarch’s other titles which is why she is simply styled as “By the Grace of God, Queen of Denmark”. As with most modern monarchies, Margrethe’s role as queen is a constitutional one and her main tasks are to represent Denmark at home and abroad. Margrethe celebrated her Ruby Jubilee on 14 January 2012 and is now the second-longest-reigning Danish monarch after her ancestor Christian IV.
When Margrethe ascended the throne, her husband became the first consort in Danish history but the fact he had no clearly defined role was a source of constant frustration for him. As his eldest son took on more royal duties, Henri felt increasingly pushed aside and it led him to leaving Denmark for a time in 2002. After Henri returned to the court, Margrethe announced she would be conferring the title of Count of Monpezat on both of her sons and it would be hereditary for their descendants. Later, Henri expressed his delight that his French roots would be honoured in this way.
On 31 December 2015, Margrethe announced her husband would be scaling back his royal duties and he renounced his title as consort in April 2016. In August 2017, Henri announced he did not wish to be buried next to the queen which raised a few eyebrows in the Danish press, however it was later announced Henri was suffering from dementia. On 14 February 2018, it was announced Henrik had died in his sleep at Fredensborg Palace the evening before and had been with his wife and sons. As Henri wished he was cremated in private and his ashes were scattered at sea and in the gardens at Fredensborg Palace.