Re­luc­tant con­sort to Den­mark’s Queen, Prince Hen­rik dies at 83

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

COPEN­HAGEN: Prince Hen­rik, the French-born hus­band of Den­mark’s Queen Mar­grethe, has died at age 83, end­ing a half-century strug­gle to win the hearts of Danes that only suc­ceeded in his later years. The royal fam­ily de­clared a month of mourn­ing, as flags were low­ered to half-mast na­tion­wide yes­ter­day. Dan­ish daily Poli­tiken head­lined “Au Revoir, Hen­rik” above a photo of the dash­ing young prince wav­ing from a con­vert­ible. Di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia in Sept 2017 and hos­pi­tal­ized since Jan 28 for a lung in­fec­tion, Hen­rik passed away late Tues­day.

A pri­vate fu­neral will be held on Feb 20 at the Chris­tians­borg Palace chapel in the cap­i­tal, the palace said. Prior to that, Danes will be able to pay their re­spects at the chapel, where the prince’s closed cas­ket will be on dis­play for three days. In line with his wishes, he will be cre­mated. Half of his ashes will be spread in Dan­ish wa­ters and half buried on the grounds of Fre­dens­borg Cas­tle north of Copen­hagen.

Dan­ish Prime Min­is­ter Lars Lokke Ras­mussen said the prince had “rep­re­sented Den­mark mag­nif­i­cently. “His com­mit­ment was in­fec­tious, and his in­sight great.” French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said Hen­rik had helped pro­mote the “long and un­fail­ing friend­ship be­tween France and Den­mark.”

Out­side Amalien­borg, the roy­als’ main res­i­dence in Copen­hagen, Danes laid down flow­ers, chil­dren’s draw­ings, and can­dles. One of them, Nina Lange­baek, told AFP she would re­mem­ber the prince as in­ter­ested “in art, po­etry, and mak­ing food. “He was a great am­bas­sador for Den­mark.” With a jovial face, the prince had a rep­u­ta­tion as a bon vi­vant. But fre­quent out­bursts of anger and a flam­boy­ant style in a coun­try that val­ues hu­mil­ity and dis­cre­tion ir­ri­tated some Danes.

The prince moved to Den­mark in 1967 ahead of his June wedding to the then-crown princess, but found hav­ing to play a sup­port­ing role dif­fi­cult. Dis­ap­pointed his royal ti­tle of prince was never changed to king when his wife be­came queen in 1972, Hen­rik voiced his frus­tra­tion in the me­dia, which did not en­dear him to sub­jects who found him ar­ro­gant. He re­tired from pub­lic ser­vice in 2016, then an­nounced he did not want to be buried next to his wife be­cause he was never made her equal. His de­ci­sion broke with the tra­di­tion of bury­ing royal spouses to­gether in Roskilde Cathe­dral west of Copen­hagen.

Born Henri Marie Jean An­dre de Laborde de Mon­pezat on June 11, 1934 in Ta­lence, near Bordeaux, Hen­rik spent much of his youth in Viet­nam, then a part of In­dochina, where his fa­ther was a busi­ness­man. He met Mar­grethe - then crown princess - while sta­tioned in Lon­don as a diplo­mat. Upon mar­ry­ing her, he changed his name to Hen­rik, con­verted from Catholi­cism to Protes­tantism and re­nounced his French cit­i­zen­ship to be­come a Dane. By the time Mar­grethe as­cended the throne in 1972, the cou­ple had two young chil­dren: Prince Fred­erik, born in 1968, and Joachim, born in 1969.

Teased for his French ac­cent and un­able to un­der­stand why pro­to­col re­quired him to re­main in his wife’s shadow, Hen­rik never re­ally found his place in Den­mark. It wasn’t un­til 1997 that he stood in for his wife at a pub­lic en­gage­ment for the first time. “Peo­ple are just used to con­sid­er­ing Prince Hen­rik as ... a lit­tle dog that fol­lows be­hind and gets a sugar cube once in a while,” he said. In 2002, he made head­lines when he fled to his chateau in south­ern France to “re­flect on life”, com­plain­ing he didn’t re­ceive enough re­spect in Den­mark after his son, Crown Prince Fred­erik, was cho­sen to rep­re­sent the queen at a New Year’s cer­e­mony in­stead of him. He said he felt “pushed aside, de­graded and hu­mil­i­ated.”

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