Queen Margrethe has quietly confirmed that her husband is taking a step back from royal life, via a statement released on New Year’s Day in Denmark.
In her New Year message, Margrethe said she “understands and respects his decision.”
The move comes as no surprise to Danes, who have long been frustrated with 81-year-old Henrik’s disgruntled comments about the fact that he is titled the “Prince Consort” rather than the King of Denmark, along with his refusal to attend royal events.
Last year he did not attend his wife’s 75th birthday, claiming he was ill, but was seen on holiday in Venice with friends the day after.
So far this year, the Queen has already attended two royal functions without her husband, instead with son Prince Frederik and his Australian wife, Princess Mary, by her side.
“The Prince Consort is looking forward to getting more time to deal with art, literature and music – all areas close to the Prince Consort’s heart,” read her statement.
Henrik shares a close bond with his grandchildren Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, and twins Josephine and Vincent, and will no doubt look to spend more time with them.
With Henrik enjoying his twilight years after 40 years of royal duty, and the Queen being no spring chicken any more, speculation has already turned to how this will affect Tasmanian-born Mary.
The palace insists Henrik’s retirement “is not expected to have implications for the royal family’s overall activities”.
The statement does concede that the “relevant tasks will be solved by Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the royal family”.
In recent years, as the Queen’s health also ails, many have speculated that the crown will be passed on to her son, Prince Frederik and daughter-in-law Princess Mary – and Henrik’s decision will no doubt fuel those rumours.
The Queen ascended the throne five years after marrying French-born Henrik in 1967. He was bestowed with the title of Prince Consort – and the fact that he was never crowned as King has never sat well with the outspoken royal.
“It makes me angry that I am subjected to discrimination,” he once declared in an outburst with a French newspaper.
“Denmark, which is otherwise known as an avid defender of gender equality, is apparently willing to consider husbands as worth less than their wives.”
In other rant, he told a Dutch TV station, “All the queens in the history of the world have made their husbands kids. Why should I be under my wife?”
He then added, “That’s life, I accept it… No! I don’t accept it! I will never accept it!”