Denmark’s King Frederik X begins reign after Queen Margrethe’s abdication

Sunday marked a turning point for the Danish monarchy, as Queen Margrethe II officially abdicated the throne after a historic 52-year reign. 

The Queen, who is 83, signed formal abdication papers during a meeting at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, where huge crowds filled with people of all ages gathered to celebrate the royal succession. 

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II arrives at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
Martin Meissner / AP

Her son, now King Frederik X, took the throne once the declaration was finalized. He was proclaimed King of Denmark from the palace balcony in a spectacle that, while traditional, is not called a coronation ceremony, unlike events held for the passing of the crown in other places including the United Kingdom. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen proclaimed the new monarch’s ascension.

King Frederik’s wife, Mary Donaldson, becomes Queen Consort with his ascension. Princess Mary was her previous title. Their son, Crown Prince Christian, is next in the monarchy’s line of succession and the current heir to the Danish throne.

In a speech addressing thousands corralled below the balcony at Christianbourg Palace, Frederik praised his mother’s legacy and said he hopes to become a “king of tomorrow.”

“My mother, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe the 2nd, has ruled Denmark for 52 years. Through half a century, she has followed the times with our common heritage as a starting point,” said Frederik, according to a translated social media post shared Sunday by the Danish royal house. “She will always be remembered as a regent beyond the ordinary. My mother, like few, has managed to be at one with her kingdom. Today, the throne passes on.”

Denmark’s King Frederik X and Denmark’s Queen Mary wave from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
Martin Meissner / AP

Queen Margrethe, the longest-reigning monarch in a country with one of the world’s oldest dynasties, will keep her title. The Queen announced her plan to abdicate the throne during her annual New Year’s Eve speech, a televised address where she said the back surgery she underwent in early 2022 informed her decision. 

“I have decided that now is the right time,” she said in the speech. “Thank you to the many, many people who on special occasions and in everyday life have embraced me and my family with kind words and thoughts, turning the years into a string of pearls.”

Margrethe abdicated the Danish throne on the 52nd anniversary of her ascension, on Jan. 14, 1972, when she was 31 years old. She succeeded her father, King Frederik IX, following his death that same day. 

The Queen was Denmark’s first woman monarch in more than 500 years, and she took the throne around two decades after the country passed a referendum that changed succession rules to allow women to inherit the crown. Margrethe was beloved across Denmark and known throughout her reign for her multilingual expertise as well as her artistry. She is the first Danish monarch to voluntarily step down in almost 900 years.


  • Denmark

Emily Mae Czachor

Emily Mae Czachor is a reporter and news editor at She covers breaking news, often focusing on crime and extreme weather. Emily Mae has previously written for outlets including the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed and Newsweek.

Thanks for reading CBS NEWS.
Create your free account or log in
for more features.

Leave a Comment