Queen Margrethe of Denmark celebrates 50th jubilee

Denmark on Friday fetes 50 years of Queen Margrethe II, an artistic, chain-smoking monarch who came to power in 1972 amid waning support for the royals but who is now beloved for her unifying presence.

At 81 years old, the always elegant-Margrethe, with her trademark white-haired bun, is now the second longest-serving monarch in Danish history — and the first woman to hold the position of reigning queen.

In her five decades at the helm of the throne, she has sidestepped scandal and helped to modernise the institution, making the Danish royal family one of the most popular in the world.

“When she became queen, only 45 percent of Danes were in favour of the monarchy,” journalist Gitte Redder, who has authored several books on the Danish royals, told AFP.

“They didn´t believe in a monarchy in a modern democracy.”

That has changed today.

A 2018 Voxmeter poll found that more than three-quarters of Danes supported the monarchy, while only 14.6 percent wanted the Scandinavian country to become a republic.

“The basis of her popularity is that the queen is absolutely non-political,” historian Lars Hovebakke Sorensen told AFP.

“She has managed to be a queen who has united the Danish nation in a time of large changes: globalisation, the appearance of the multicultural state, economic crises in the 1970s, 1980s and again in 2008 to 2015, and the pandemic,” he said.

Celebrations for her jubilee have been dampened by Covid, with large public festivities postponed until September.

She will mark the occasion Friday by laying a wreath at her parents´ grave in Roskilde after attending a ceremony in parliament.

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