Seven things you did not know about Denmark’s new king Frederik X and his queen
By Signe Hansen
Denmark has a new king, King Frederik X, and next to him stands the ever-popular and never-out-of-step Queen Mary. Now, thus far, few readers will be surprised, but behind these two facts, hides a feast of lesser-known facts about His Majesty The King – and his immaculate wife. We take a look at seven enjoyable and surprising details painting a delightful picture of the man on the throne.
With the news of the abdication of Denmark’s 83-year-old former Queen Margrethe II and the proclamation of King Frederik X widely covered in the international press, most people will know at least a bit about the Danish King by now. Stories about how he met his wife in a bar during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, his past girlfriends (which deliciously include both a pop singer and an underwear model – the Danish press had a feast) as well as his time and training in the Danish Frogman Corps have all been favourites with the international press.
Moreover, most people will know that the Danish king is not just an eager sportsman and adventurer (his most famous feat is probably his participation in a four-month, 2,795 km dog-sled expedition in northern Greenland), but also the holder of a master’s in politics and a modern-day husband and father-of-four. Indeed, an array of both positive and extraordinary things can – and has been – said about the new Danish king, but still a few details may have slipped your attention.
1: The King loves music and rocks on a mouth harp.
King Frederik is known as a great music fan and has guested several music festivals (as well as the Burning Man festival), most often casually dressed in shorts, a polo shirt and a cap, accessorised with a draft beer and a broad smile. Whether his new role will put an end to his festival days is yet to be seen, but the King is unlikely to lose his love for music. He also plays several instruments. As a child, he was taught to play the piano, but in his teenage years took a greater interest in the guitar. Most surprisingly, however, he also plays a mean mouth harp, and in 2007 surprised a lot of Danes when he joined a Danish Led Zeppelin cover band on stage to give it his all on his mouth harp. He is known to be a great Led Zeppelin fan and later repeated the feat at his 40th birthday party.
2: The King is the best-educated Danish monarch of all time.
King Frederik X holds the distinction of being the best-educated Danish monarch ever. In 1995, he earned a master’s in political science from Aarhus University, becoming the first Danish royal to earn a university degree. However, The King has been educated primarily within the defence, where he has completed several basic and active educational courses in all three units of the Danish military. In 1995, he became the first royal to complete the notoriously rigorous training of the Frogman Corps. Through the years, The King has completed further training steps for leaders at the Royal Danish Defence College and in 2010, he was appointed as a commander in the navy and colonel in the army and the air force. On his succession to the throne, he was appointed admiral of the Navy and general of the Air Force.
3: He is a keen cyclist and an Ironman.
Known as an avid sportsman, King Frederik has participated in several bike rides, often showing up with short notice or even participating anonymously. In 2015, it made headlines when the then Crown Prince of Denmark, decided to skip the pre-wedding party of the Swedish Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia in Stockholm to participate in Vättern Rund, a 300-kilometre-long bicycle challenge. The Crown Prince finished the race around midnight and attended the wedding the next day. In 2013, the Crown Prince became the first Danish royal to complete an ironman viewed and cheered on by his wife and children as well as thousands of Danes.
PLUS: The Queen used to take her youngest children to school on a cargo bike.
Though of Australian origin, Queen Mary too has adopted the Danish cycling fever but in a more urban-chic fashion, also loved by many Danes. In 2015, a picture of the then Crown Princess cycling through Copenhagen with her two youngest children on a cargo bike made its way around the world. If someone is thinking it was probably some sort of publicity stunt to make the royals “look normal”, think again. The photo was not a one-off, Mary was often seen riding her two youngest children to their nearby school.
4: Even The King’s wife thinks he might have taken his love for Lycra a bit too far.
Known to be a casual dresser outside of formal events, The King has participated in multiple sports events in colourful, body-hugging Lycra suits. And, while King Frederik might be among the fitter members of the royal class, he might have taken his love for Lycra too far. In her speech to her husband on his 50th birthday the then Crown Princess lovingly teased her husband about his Lycra outfits referring to him as a MAMIL – middle-aged man in Lycra. Continuing the speech, she said: “But darling, you still look quite sharp in Lycra. However, I do struggle a bit when it comes to the combination of Lycra, helmets, and roller skis. And when you and your teammates chose to complete your first Vasaloppet [a 90-kilometer cross-country ski race) in white Lycra… To be brutally honest, it didn’t work.”
5: King Frederik and Queen Mary say evening prayers with their children.
To readers from outside Denmark, this will perhaps not sound odd at all, but in Denmark a highly secular country, many people were surprised to find out that the royal couple had raised their children to say an evening prayer. According to the King’s new book Kongeord (released shortly after his proclamation), the couple still say prayers with their two youngest children. Further strengthening the impression that King Frederik has a stronger relationship with the divine than many Danes had gauged, is the fact that he, in his proclamation speech, stated to rely not only on the support of his wife, family and the Danish people but also on, “that which is greater than us”.
6: The Danish King has a genuinely close relationship with the other Scandinavian royals.
King Frederik of Denmark shares a good part of his royal blood with the other heirs apparent of the neighbouring Scandinavian countries. Most notably, his maternal grandmother, Queen Ingrid, was born the daughter of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, making the former Queen Margrethe II and the current King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden cousins. But according to a new documentary made by DR (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation), the next generation of royals are even closer than their blood relations. Nine years his junior, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has often described King Frederik as a kind of older brother to her.
PLUS: Queen Mary has also built strong bonds with the other Scandinavian royals. She is the godmother of Crown Princess Victoria’s daughter Estelle who also bears the middle name “Mary”.
7: The King laughs loudly at his own dad jokes
In her 2018 birthday speech, then Crown Princess Mary praised her husband for his positive mindset and his easy laughter. Noting that he was never stingy with either laughs or jokes, she said. “Often they come in pairs because you laugh a lot at your own jokes.” She went on to give an example of the kind of jokes that would elicit an especially loud laugh from her husband. “People who have had the pleasure of eating out with you know that if, for instance, a waiter asks you if you are finished, you are dead sure to answer – no I’m Danish. Every time. And laugh. Every time.”
A man of the people
Indeed, combining this kind of dad-level jokes with his Lycra suits, harmonica skills, and an evident eagerness to improve and educate himself, it is no wonder the new King of Denmark has long been known as a “man of the people.” He does not even have to try. It’s just who he is.
His Majesty The King, Count of Monpezat, King of Denmark since 14 January 2024.
Birthday: 26 May, 1968
Children: Crown Prince Christian (b. 2005), Princess Isabella (b. 2007), Princ Vincent (b.2011), Princess Josephine (b. 2011).
Height: 183 cm
Full name: Frederik André Henrik Christian
Languages: Danish, French, English, and German.
Residence: In winter, the Royal Family resides in Frederik VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg and in summer Chancellery House at Fredensborg Palace.
Wife: Queen Mary of Denmark, Queen Consort of Denmark.
Maiden name: Mary Elizabeth Donaldson.
Birth: 5 February 1972,Tasmania, Australia.
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