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Denmark's queen makes one last public appearance before stepping down in rare abdication

Denmark's Queen Margrethe is escorted by the Hussar Regiment as she rides in a horse-drawn coach from Christian IX's Palace, Amalienborg to Christiansborg Palace
Denmark's Queen Margrethe is escorted by the Hussar Regiment as she rides in a horse-drawn coach from Christian IX's Palace, Amalienborg to Christiansborg Palace Copyright Emil Nicolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
Copyright Emil Nicolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
By Euronews with AP
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Queen Margrethe, currently Europe's longest reigning monarch, has been on the Danish throne for 52 years.

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Europe's longest reigning monarch Queen Margrethe rode through Denmark’s capital on Thursday in a gilded, horse-drawn coach as she concluded her last New Year celebrations before her abdication later this month.

It’s expected to be the final public appearance she will make before she steps down.

Thousands braved the freezing Copenhagen temperatures, strong winds, snow and sleet to cheer the popular queen along the route.

She is set to step down on 14 January after 52 years on the throne.

The 83-year-old monarch will hand the throne to her oldest son, Crown Prince Frederik. It’s the first such resignation in Europe’s oldest ruling monarchy in nearly 900 years.

Margrethe rode in the Gold Coach - pulled by six white horses - used when the monarch rides from the royal residence at the Amalienborg Palace to the Christiansborg Palace during the traditional New Year’s celebrations with officers from the Armed Forces, among others.

The monarch wore a fur coat and white gloves in the closed 19th-century coach covered in 24-karat gold leaf and topped with four gilded crowns on the roof. It was escorted by members of the Hussar Regiment in blue uniforms with red jackets.

Earlier this week, Queen Margrethe held a series of events to greet the Danish government, parliament, top civilian and military officials and foreign diplomats.

The Christiansborg Palace, which is used for official royal events including gala banquets and public audiences, also houses the Danish parliament, the prime minister’s office and Denmark’s highest court. It is located a little over half a mile from Amalienborg.

The queen will sign her formal abdication on 14 January at a state council - a meeting with the Danish government - making Frederik, 55, and his Australian-born wife Mary, 51, king and queen of Denmark.

Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Danish Crown Princess Mary arrive to greet the diplomatic corps in occasion of the New Year at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Danish Crown Princess Mary arrive to greet the diplomatic corps in occasion of the New Year at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, DenmarkIda Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix via AP

Although monarchs in several European countries have abdicated to allow younger royalty to take over, there is no such tradition in Denmark.

For years, Margrethe has insisted that she will not quit.

However, her health has changed that.

In her annual New Year televised address on 31 December, Margrethe said back surgery in early 2023 led to “thoughts about the future” and when to pass on the responsibilities of the crown to her son.

“I have decided that now is the right time,” she said.

When she ascended the throne in 1972 after her late father, King Frederik IX, only 42% of Danes supported the monarchy. She has been very popular; the most recent survey shows that 84% of Danes favour it to a high or some degree.

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