Frederik X is proclaimed the new king of Denmark after his mother, Queen Margrethe II, abdicates


They then left Christianborg Palace in a horse-drawn coach as church bells rang out, and headed to their Amalienborg residence, where they once again appeared before a huge crowd of people cheering and waving the nation’s flag of a white cross on a red background.

Frederik, who was visibly moved, placed both hands on his heart in a gesture of thanks.

The abdication document was earlier presented to Margrethe as she sat at a massive table covered in red cloth around which royals and members of the Danish government were seated. Frederik sat beside her.

After signing it, Margrethe rose and gestured to Frederik to take her place. “God save the king,” she said as she left the room.

The abdication leaves Denmark with two queens: Margrethe keeps her title, while Frederik’s wife becomes Queen Mary. Frederik and Mary’s eldest son Christian, 18, has become crown prince and heir to the throne.

Citing health issues, Margrethe announced on New Year’s Eve that she would step down, stunning a nation that had expected her to live out her days on the throne, as is the tradition in the Danish monarchy. Margrethe underwent major back surgery last February and didn’t return to work until April.

Even the prime minister was unaware of the queen’s intentions until right before the announcement. Margrethe had informed Frederik and his younger brother Joachim just three days earlier, the Berlingske newspaper wrote, citing the royal palace.

People from across Denmark gathered outside parliament, with many swarming streets decorated with red-and-white Danish flags. Several shops hung photos of Margrethe and Frederik, while city buses were adorned with smaller Danish flags as is customary during royal events. Many others across the kingdom of nearly 6 million people followed a live television broadcast of the historic event.

The royal guards’ music band made their daily parade through downtown Copenhagen, but wore red jackets, instead of their usual black, to mark major events.

Image: Danish King Frederik X Succeeds Queen Margrethe II
Danish King Frederik X stands with Queen Mary and their children, Crown Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace following his proclamation Sunday in Copenhagen.Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Copenhagen resident Rene Jensen, wearing a replica of a royal robe and a bejeweled purple crown on his head, said that he expected Frederik to be “a king for the nation, representing us everywhere.”

The last time a Danish monarch voluntarily resigned was in 1146, when King Erik III Lam stepped down to enter a monastery. Margrethe abdicated on the same day of January that she ascended the throne following the death of her father, King Frederik IX, on Jan. 14, 1972.

Denmark’s monarchy traces its origins to 10th-century Viking king Gorm the Old, making it the oldest in Europe and one of the oldest in the world.

Australians also turned out on the streets of Copenhagen to celebrate one of their own becoming queen.

“I think it’s good that she’s not from royalty and has a normal Australian background. We can relate more to that, because she’s from a middle-class background, and we are, too,” said Judy Langtree, who made the long journey from Brisbane with her daughter to witness the royal event.

A survey — commissioned by Denmark’s public broadcaster DR — published Friday showed that 79% of the 1,037 people polled by the Epinion polling institute said that they believed Frederik was prepared to take the reins and 83% said they thought his wife Mary was ready to become queen. The survey margin of error was 3 percentage points, DR said.