French-born husband of Danish queen dies at 83
Henrik famously pushed for more prominent title.
Prince Henrik, STOCKHOLM — the French-born husband of Queen Margrethe II, stood out from the Danish royal family for not hiding his personal views on matters of the realm, including most famously seeking a more prominent title.
Throughout his marriage to Margrethe, the prince consort battled repeatedly with the limits of his role. This was defined by law as that of the queen’s husband — and not the role of a monarch in his own right.
Henrik died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 83, the royal palace said in a statement issued early Wednesday.
“His Royal Highness Prince Henrik died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday 13 February at 11:18 pm, at Fredensborg Palace. Her Majesty the Queen and the two sons were at his side,” the statement read.
He was born Henri Marie Jean Andre Count de Laborde de Monpezat in Talence, southwest France.
He spent his early years in Vietnam where his father, a count, looked after the family businesses. In 1939, the family returned to France and Henrik went to school at home until 1947 when he enrolled at a boarding school run by Jesuits in Bordeaux.
In 1950, he returned to Hanoi and graduated from the French upper secondary school there before studying law and political science at the Sorbonne in Paris. He also studied Chinese and Vietnamese at the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales.
During his military service, Henrik served in the infantry in Algeria between 1959 and 1962 and then joined the French Foreign Ministry with posts in the Asia department and the French embassy in London.
He met then Danish Crown Princess Margrethe at a 1965 dinner party in London, where she was studying. They met again the following year at a wedding in Scotland and he later invited her to a private dinner. The queen later said that she “then became aware how madly I loved him,” noting that she appreciated his good looks and that he took her seriously.
On marrying Margrethe in 1967, he converted to become a Lutheran and changed his name to the more Danish Henrik. Margrethe became monarch in 1972. She and Henrik had two sons, Frederik, born in 1968, and Joachim, born in 1969.
Both the queen and Prince Henrik have said they would have wished for more time together and with their sons before having to take on the many official duties that ensued when she became monarch.
Both Henrik and the queen shared an interest in the arts and culture. He published several poetry collections, some illustrated by the queen, as well as books on cookery and his memoirs.
Over the years, Prince Henrik made no secret that he desired a more prominent role and title although this was not possible under the Danish constitution that clearly states that the queen is the monarch. In some interviews he said he would have preferred to be known as “king,” and made headlines back in 2002 when he appeared unhappy to be ranked third behind his son, Crown Prince Frederik. As of 2005 he was addressed as prince consort.
In August 2017, the prince raised eyebrows after announcing he would not be buried in Roskilde Cathedral next to the queen in a special sarcophagus, which was seen as a break with tradition. The queen said she would not change her funeral plans.
The palace did say however that he wished to be buried in Denmark.
The following month, the palace announced that the prince was suffering from dementia and that the impact was assessed to be “greater than expected” for his age.
He had already in 2016 withdrawn from many of his official duties, and no longer had the title prince consort.
Henrik and the queen shared an interest in the arts and culture.
Denmark’s Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik arrive aboard the royal yacht Dannebrog last June at the port of Aarhus in Denmark. In some interviews, the prince said that he would have preferred to be known as “king.”