On the 12th November 1964, Grand-Duchess Charlotte signed her abdication, having reigned for 45 years, through the dark years of World War II, and having nominated her son Jean for “Lieutenant Representant” in 1961, during a discreet ceremony at the Grand-Ducal Palace. On her very regal looking, in bejewelled splendour, wearing the most impressive of the tiaras of the Grand-Ducal Family, Her Royal Highness signed the abdication declaration, through which she renounced the Crown of Luxembourg in favour of her son, the Hereditary Grand-Duke Jean.
That same day, just afterwards, the new Grand-Duke took the oath of allegiance during the enthronement ceremony at the Deputies Chamber of the Assembly of Luxembourg, surrounded by his children and his wife, Grand-Duchess Josephine Charlotte. The enthronement of the new Grand-Duke took place amid grand celebrations, not too common in the small Grand-Duchy. Apart of several military salutes to the Grand-Ducal Family, a Te Deum was held at the Cathedral of Luxembourg, after the Grand-Ducal Family’s appearance in the balcony of the Grand-Ducal Palace.
Grand-Duchess Charlotte survived yet more than 20 years after her abdication, deceasing only on the 9th July 1985. From her marriage to Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma was born the next sovereign of Luxembourg, who would conduct the little Grand-Duchy to be a most developed country in Europe. Grand-Duke Jean was extremely popular after he joined the British Forces during World War II, and he took part in the liberation of Luxembourg from Hitler’s forces. In 1953 he married HRH Princess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg, goddaughter of Grand-Duchess Charlotte and daughter of King Leopold III of the Belgians and the late Queen Astrid. From this union were born Prince Henri, Princess Marie Astrid, Princess Margaretha, Prince Jean and Prince Guillaume. Henri became the Hereditary Grand-Duke of Luxembourg on the accession of his father in 1964. In 1981 he married Miss Maria Teresa Mestre in a splendorous ceremony at the Cathedral of Luxembourg. The have five children: Prince Guillaume, Prince Felix, Princess Alexandra, Prince Louis and Prince Sebastian.
1964 was marked by two enthronements: the one of King Constantine of Greece and, in November, the one of Grand-Duke Jean. Since then (and after the end of the monarchy in Greece), the sovereigns of seven of the other nine European monarchies have changed. Thus, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Norway and Belgium, have had their sovereigns enthroned in these 36 years of Grand-Duke Jean’s reign.
In 1972 took place the first enthronement in Europe, after the one of Luxembourg. King Frederick IX of Denmark, died on the 14th January, after some weeks of severe illness. Loved by his people and respected throughout Europe, he was succeeded by his daughter, whom, through referendum, had been allowed to reign. Having the King three daughters, Princesses Margrethe, Benedikte and Anne-Marie, his brother Prince Knud was, for several years, the Heir to the Throne, until the King proposed a referendum to allow women to reign in Denmark. Margrethe had been married in 1967 to the French Count Henri de Laborde de Montpezat, Benedikte married in 1968 to Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Anne-Marie had married King Constantine II of Greece in 1964.
On the first day of the new reign, 15th January, saluted by gun fires and bell ringing, according to the tradition, Queen Margrethe, accompanied by Prince Henrik, left the Royal Palace of Amalienborg in an open landau, the same used by her father the 20th April 1947, to go to the Palace of Christianborg, siege of the Parliament and the Government. Inside, the Queen presided over her first State Council meeting, after which the Prime Minister Mr. Otto Krag came into the balcony of the palace to shout: “King Frederick IX is dead. Long live Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II”, followed by the traditional 9-hurrah salute. The new Queen presented the thousands of people gathered there with a brief speech:
“My beloved father, our King, is dead and we are all in deep mourning. This mourning is, however, even greater for my mother, Queen Ingrid, towards whom we turn our warmest feelings.
“The duties that, during twenty-five years were my father’s, are now mine. I ask God to help me and to give me the needed strength to give honour to this weighty inheritance. The love and loyalty of the Danish people towards my father have always been the basis of his duties as King. May that confidence given to my father be equally given to me. I ask for it.
“It is this confidence that will enable me be fulfil my duty of Queen of Denmark. To it I’ll consecrate all my life and all my sources.”
Queen Margrethe II was then joined in the balcony by her husband, Prince Henrik, on the balcony of Christianborg, just before returning in landau to the Palace of Amalienborg, residence of the Royal Family in Copenhagen. Again Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik appeared of the balcony, now accompanied by the new heir to the throne, Prince Frederick, and the little Prince Joachim. This was the most simple of all the enthronements to come, with no grand choreographed ceremonies, a proclamation and not an enthronement, if we want to be accurate. The funeral of the deceased sovereign took place in grandeur 10 days after the enthronement ceremony, with several European sovereigns paying tribute to the than longest-reigning European king, second monarch after the Prince of Liechtenstein.
King Frederick had died just months away of celebrating his silver jubilee, which was already being prepared. 25 years later, the 14th and 15th January 1997, Queen Margrethe remembered her father at Roskilde Cathedral, where he was buried, and then celebrated her own jubilee with her people, who devotes her an enormous respect and love. Her Majesty, 60 on the 16th April 2000, has vowed that she has no intention of abdicating on her son, Crown Prince Frederick, who is facing some pressure to find a suitable bride and become a more devoted Crown Prince. Frederick is often opposed to his brother Prince Joachim, who is now married to Princess Alexandra, formerly Alexandra Manley, and the very popular couple has a child, Prince Nikolai. There have been calls in the press and the society for Frederick to renounce the throne in favour of his brother, given the fact that Joachim is seen as a more responsible man, mainly since his marriage to Princess Alexandra, to whom everyone will compare Frederick’s wife. Challenging times ahead in the Kingdom of Denmark.