UPDATE 6 September 2017: The Danish Royal Court announced that Prince Henrik suffers from dementia. Most recently during the late summer a series of examinations were conducted. This might lead to changes in behaviour, reaction patterns, judgement and emotional life and may therefore also affect the interaction with the outside world, it was announced. Although Prince Henriks view on his position and title is certainly not something recent, it might – as many people already feared – explain his most recent outburst on the subject a few weeks ago. I am very sorry for his family.
Groningen, August 4th, 2017
Dear Royal Highness, dear Prince Henrik,
For many years I have been following royal houses, not only the Danish, but the royals all over the world. Yesterday I read the press announcement saying that you don’t want to be buried in the Dom Church of Roskilde with your wife Queen Margrethe II, but want to be buried elsewhere in Denmark. Your wife has accepted your decision. Apparently the reason is something we have known for years already. There have been several outbursts in the past. You’re not satisfied with your position and think that as you were not her equal in life, you don’t want to be in death either.
The role of the wife of husband of a King/Queen has always been to support their partner in their job as a monarch, to stand by their side. I know that has been especially hard for many male consorts, as for a long time males were regarded as the superior ones, but they were in these cases the lesser important person. But especially the men in your generation, think of Prince Claus of the Netherlands, have fought hard for a better position. I remember Prince Hendrik and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands were not very satisfied with their position either. Let’s be honest, they are both not the best example of what a Prince consort should be. Prince Claus and Pieter van Vollenhoven with their wives Queen Beatrix and Princess Margriet, wanted a clearer role for themselves, not just supporting their wives in their work, but also really have something to do, and make a change. I am sure, Prince Henrik, you have talked to these men often and tried yourself too to be more than just a consort escorting his wife. And that of course is totally the right thing to do. A modern consort, even more than in the past, should create a more defined role for him/herself, whether they’re males or females.
As a King has always been regarded as a higher title as Queen, the consorts of a King have usually been called Queen, as you might well know. Nobody ever questioned who was the real ruler of the two. The Queen consort surely has never had much political power, unless as a regent. The consort of the rare group of reigning Queens have therefore always been called Prince, so there would not be any doubt about it which one was the actual monarch. They might have been there to lend the monarch a listening ear, to give them advice in certain issues behind closed doors. But they were never actually ruling, and never will in the future either. In that way I don’t think a consort will ever be fully equal to the monarch. In the future in some monarchies it might be decided that these male consorts will be called King, time will tell.
For many centuries women have been the underdog, overpowered by the men in the world. Men thought, and many are still thinking, that a woman is worth less than a man. Women earn less money when having the same job, were not even allowed to keep on working when being married until some tens of years ago. Often women were only supposed to be good for doing the household and have and raise children. Only in recent years it has become normal that married women work while they’re married and have children, and that men help out in the household. Despite of that once in a while in the past a women managed to occupy one of the thrones in the world. I can’t imagine it will have been an easy position for them over the centuries, as they were always surrounded by males. You would have to be a very strong woman in such a position. It would take ages before Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain for example finally had to deal with female politicians, and that was in the 20th century. Still when you see monarchs surrounded by governments or other high positioned politicians, men outrank women.
Maybe Denmark is quite a modern country nowadays, but in many countries in the world women still hardly have much rights. Is it really so terrible not to be called King? You were even Prince Consort for a while, but weren’t really satisfied with that either. As consort you are simply not in line of succession to the throne, so it is clear that your son Crown Prince Frederik takes over duties from your wife Queen Margrethe when it is necessary. That is not your job as a consort anymore as soon as the heir is an adult. You have given Queen Margrethe your love (I hope), your support, have given her children and heirs, and hopefully much more. I am not certain this hardworking Queen deserves a man, who is not satisfied with what he does and has achieved. I am sure she gave you all the possibilities in the world to have your own interests and work. At the time you married her, I think it should have been clear to you already that you never would be King. Do you really think the title of King will make any difference to the nation?
If you want to change something, complaining to the whole world is not exactly the best solution, and it might not make your life any easier. On the contrary. You can complain, but in the first place it is all up to you to make something of your job as a consort yourself, to fight and show what you’re worth. A position and especially respect of the people is something you need to earn, not only as a consort, even as a monarch. And to be honest, I am not quite sure you earn that respect, at least not always. Not because of your wishes – there might be more than enough people who do understand these – but because of the way you behaved. You should remember: you’re a 83-year old man, not a child anymore.