It have been some strange days. From Thursday to Friday I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the 50th anniversary on the throne of Queen Margrethe II. I had just gone through security at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam when checking my phone, I discovered messages about Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, was very ill. The family all rushing to Balmoral in Scotland to her bedside sounded really alarming. By the time I arrived in my hotel in Copenhagen the news that she had actually died aged 96 had just come through. Just a pity that the only English spoken channel I had on my TV was Bloomberg, an American channel. That was the only time I watched TV until I came back home.
I feared that the Danish Queen had probably cancelled all celebrations, but luckily for me and others who had or were about to travel to Denmark, she didn’t. The carriage rides and balcony scene, as well as a visit to the city hall were cancelled, it appeared on Friday morning (after a night full of talking I guess), but all other events continued to take place, although with less military ceremonial. There were still tiaras, evening gowns, but Queen Elizabeth II was certainly remembered several times. I assume there has been lots of criticism, both in Denmark and abroad. While abroad people might have wondered why she continued celebrating, quite a few Danes were angry that the events didn’t continue as planned.
To be clear: Queen Margrethe cancelled both her 80th birthday celebrations in April 2020 and the celebrations for her 50th anniversary to the throne in January 2022 because of Covid-19. Both she, her family and the Danes, and many fans, had been looking forward to this for such a long time. The Danes love their Queen and were excited finally to be able to celebrate her the way she deserves. Me and some friends were most surprised that the balcony and the town hall were cancelled. Cheering people on the square at Amalienborg? One would assume a full square falling silent for one minute because of another Queen would have been very impressive and fitting. For the people who didn’t understand anything went on: preparations were already nearly finished, food ordered, dinner prepared, halls decorated, some guests and fans like me were already on their way. The time frame was simply too short to cancel all.
Flags at all four buildings of the Amalienborg Palace, the Yellow Palace and several embassies in the area were halfmast on Friday. Obviously during my second visit to the exhibition with Queen Margrethe’s jewellery and figuring out what jewels she had chosen to wear that weekend, the subject of her colleague Elizabeth’s death was the talk of the day. During a dinner with some royalty watcher friends in the evening, we also talked about Queen Elizabeth a lot. We decided to visit the Rosenborg Castle on Saturday, now the balcony scene had been cancelled. While queueing we watched the main part of the Accession Council of King Charles III on the mobile phone of one of my friends. In the evening it turned out that show must go on when the royals and their guests appeared at the Royal Theatre, although I had the feeling that especially Queen Margrethe’s sisters Princess Benedikte and former Queen Anne-Marie of Greece were feeling rather sad. Not too much waving, no big smiles or turning around to greet the public. A full schedule on Sunday with several references to Queen Elizabeth both at the church service in the morning and during the dinner at Christiansborg Palace in the evening.
On Monday I had plenty of time to walk around town, revisiting the Little Mermaid, and I decided to go to the British embassy as I had discovered that there was a book of condolence there. Myself I do live quite far away from the British embassy in The Hague, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. After finding it I admired the flowers outside and then went through the gate. No photocamera, phone or other luggage allowed unfortunately. I took my time to admire the photos from Queen Elizabeth with Queen Margrethe hanging on the wall outside the building, as well as the photos and flowers inside. It was all very solemn. In the middle of a room there was a table with the book of condolences and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth. I wrote my name and some text in it after looking at the very few other pages. Most people that had signed were ambassadors I think. Afterwards I slowly went back into the city centre, passing the St Alban’s Anglican Church, that unfortunately had just closed its doors five minutes earlier. The carillon by the way was playing Amazing Grace at the full hour, at least when I passed it. Although I am not sure it was because of the Queen’s death I fell it was very fitting.