Even after his death on February 13, the prince consort of Denmark still managed to stand against royal gender discrimination in his decision to get cremated instead of buried.
By Linsey Raschkowan and Sofie Højlund
In Denmark it’s not common for royals to get cremated when they die. There is no record of anyone being cremated in the Danish monarchy in its 1300 years long life-span. Until now.
Prince Henrik of Denmark, the prince consort of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, died in the late evening on February 13th at age 83. He was the son of the old French House of Laborde de Monpezat. While working as a Secretary in the French Foreign Ministry’s embassy in London he met Crown Princess Margrethe. The couple fell in love and married in 1967.
Only five years after the King of Denmark, King Frederik, died of a cardiac arrest and Margrethe became the new Queen of Denmark. With that came the title Prince consort of Denmark. A title Prince Henrik was very disappointed with.
Not a king-consort
In the royal institutions around the world, the title King is acknowledged as the superior to the Queen. That’s why you usually see queen consort and not king consorts, and was what Prince Henrik wasn’t satisfied with. He felt, as the spouse of a queen, he deserved the title of king-consort, just like a female spouse of a king would get the title of queen-consort.
Throughout his life, he made different comments on his dissatisfaction with his title. In 2015 in the French newspaper Le Figaro he stated that he was angry with his title and stated that it was discrimination.
“It makes me angry to be a victim of discrimination,” said Prince Henrik to Le Figaro.
Disappearing from the public
A little over two lears ago in the national New Year’s speech the Queen announced that Prince Henrik was going to step down from his official duties. According to historian and royal expert Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, the retirement was an act of defiance against his title.
“He said no to his public role. He didn’t want to appear in the public sphere, he didn’t want to appear next to the Queen. He wanted Margrethe the person, not the queen. But royals don’t get that choice,” says Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen.
And that is why Prince Henrik of Denmark choose to get cremated. He had half his ashes spread in the sea and the other half placed in an urn. The urn will remain in the private gardens of the couple’s home at Fredensborg Palace, according to the historian.
“He didn’t want to be buried next to the Queen. He said no to his public role in death. And that’s why he wanted to disappear into the nothingness, the sea, and into the private gardens of Fredensborg Palace – so the family still had a piece of him. As private and family-oriented as it can be,” says Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen.
Not the only discriminated consort
As recently depicted on Netflix-series The Crown, Prince Henrik wasn’t the only prince-consort who was disappointed with his title. The series that is based roughly on the Queen Elizabeth the Second’s life, depicts how Prince Philip, the consort of the British monarch, was dissatisfied with his title (or lack of one). To improve on their personal relationship the Queen of England granted him the title of Prince.
In both instances, the public opinion in each country was split: one part understood the princes, the other part said they had no business being disappointed with what they’ve got. In the case of Prince Henrik, his public comments about his title was discussed in the media on many occasions, and made the prince unpopular in some ways.
But it turns out the prince wasn’t that unpopular to the Danish people. Almost 20, 000 people went to see his casket in ‘Castrum Doloris’ the weekend after his death.
The funeral of Prince Henrik was Tuesday February 20th. 60 guest attended, mostly family and friends.
This article is written for an audience in North America, and would be featured on the website hellomagazine.com, which regularly features news on Royals.