ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson sat down with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee. The two royals are the only two reigning Queens in the world, and coincidentally, they're both celebrating Jubilees this year.
The prospect of meeting a Queen was an exciting, privileged one but also incredibly daunting.
I had a purpose to my visit and the interview, but what if she didn’t take kindly to my questions or I curtsied wrongly or I wasn’t dressed smartly enough? What would happen then?
In this job you do have encounters with impressive and interesting people every day, but my trip to the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen to meet Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was most special.
Queen Margrethe II is related to Queen Elizabeth II, and they are both celebrating Jubilees this year.
Queen Margrethe II has been on the throne for 50 years, Queen Elizabeth II for 70 years.
They are the only two reigning Queens in the world.
When we arrived at the royal residence, we were taken through the Yellow Palace to the private home of Queen Margrethe at the Amalienborg Palace.
Everything looked exactly as anyone would imagine a palace to look. Grand.
Even the carpet had crowns on it.
The Amalienborg Palace is made up of four identical buildings that sit around a large square in the heart of Copenhagen.
One is where the Queen lives, one is for Crown Prince Frederick and his family, another is for Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie and their children, and the other is a guests’ residence.
Queen Margrethe arrived perfectly on time for us, and our interview was to take place in the drawing room where she’d previously entertained the Duchess of Cambridge and welcomed heads of state.
We were given a five-minute warning before she entered the room. At which point, the hands started to get clammy, pens were fiddled with and bows and curtsies were practised. Then, she came in.
Dressed in red, white and blue, her white hair fastened elegantly in a chignon. She had only a warm smile for us, allaying any worries. Her Majesty moved calmly across to her seat. She spoke softly, but with an innate authority and grace.
Queen Margrethe speaks five languages, including English, yet she speaks it without a hint of an accent. From the moment she sat down, she enthralled.
Her Majesty spoke to me of her first trip to London as a child in 1952, about how double decker buses had “really taken her fancy,” and she remembered the feeling of travelling on the Underground vividly.
She recalled seeing the holes in the roads left made by wartime bombs and talked about finding the fact we drove on the left fascinating.
She told me: “We felt very close to England growing up.”
Queen Margrethe is 82, 14 years Queen Elizabeth’s junior, but the moment Queen Elizabeth II became Queen had a profound impact on her.
The monarch said: “[Queen Elizabeth] was 26 when she became Queen. When I was growing up, I hoped I wouldn’t be as young as that when my father died. It made an enormous impression on me. The fact that she was dedicating her life. I understood what that meant. This is for life. That is the whole point of my life. And I know she sees that too.”
Throughout her own reign, Queen Margrethe II said she had learnt much from Queen Elizabeth.
She said: “When I was growing up, my mother and father said to me, look at what they do in England and I could see that it could be done and it was worthwhile and you could live a very full life with it, even with a heavy schedule and demanding job.
"Both she and I see it as a dedication, but also a job.
"When you get to my age, you don’t have the emptiness, what am I going to do tomorrow? I know jolly well what I am going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the following year.”
Then I asked her what it was about Queen Elizabeth that inspired her.
“The way she has faced her duties, the way she has dedicated her life, and she does it with a smile," she answered. "She has been through many things.”
Queen Margrethe celebrates her Golden Jubilee this year, Queen Elizabeth marks her Platinum Jubilee.
Together, they have reigned for 120 years. That is a remarkable achievement. For many people living in both the UK and Denmark, they will have known no other monarch, and Queen Margrethe believes that continuity is important.
She said: “There are things that don’t have to change. Governments change, they should, they must, but the sovereign is there. Everything doesn’t have to be different all of the time. You belong to your country. You belong to a whole nation. That is one thing Queen Elizabeth does so beautifully.“
In 1979, the British Royal couple came to Copenhagen. They were pictured on the balcony of the Amalienborg Palace waving to the crowds.
A photograph of that moment has recently been posted by Buckingham Palace on its social media page in honour of Queen Margrethe’s Jubilee.
A gesture Her Majesty was touched by, because she remembers their trip fondly.
“It was a marvellous moment on the balcony," she said.
"It is a very warming moment, people are frightfully kind and you can feel it.”
Aside from their very proper and public personas, you always like to think of a royal having a different side to their character, a mischief or a humorous streak that we never see, so I asked Queen Margrethe if there was indeed a personality behind the crown that must remain hidden because of the roles they both have.
“I don’t become a different personality I hope," she answered.
"I feel like I am the same sort of person underneath whether I’m wearing this sort of get up or the full rig, and the same goes for Queen Elizabeth. She is also the same person and knows very well who she is.”
Theirs is also a relationship that transcends their roles. They are good friends, although Queen Margrethe told me that she doesn’t love the telephone!
She said: “I am not very good on the phone but when we see each other we get on very well indeed.
"She always invites me for lunch when I am in London, when we talk about family, how things are going in this country and that country and what the children are up to.”
Both women also have nicknames. Queen Margrethe II’s is “Daisy” and Queen Elizabeth’s is “Lilibet.” I was interested to know if that’s what they call each other.
“Oh yes, that’s the way we have known each other always," she said. "That is what we call each other when we see and speak to one another. We are definitely affectionate, but I don’t want to splash it all over the place!”
Both Queens share a love of dogs. Queen Elizabeth II for corgis and Queen Margrethe II for daschunds, although Queen Margrethe didn’t grow up with dogs.
It was her late husband Prince Henrik who loved daschunds and through him, she came to love them. I asked her if Corgis were not for her, to which she playfully responded...
“I can’t be a copy cat can I?” she smiled.
It was a spirited end to our conversation but Queen Margrethe also had a very personal message she wanted to send the Queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
She said: “Queen Elizabeth and I were both young people when we started, and so there was a lot of “Yes, let’s just do it! When you are young, you look to the future all the time. [Her Platinum Jubilee] is a very great moment and celebration. My heart really goes out to her. She is on her own now and she is baring up beautifully".
She added: "Good and bad have happened in her life and she is most impressive. It is a duty, but you also have to love your duty. That is something Queen Elizabeth and I share.”
It is something that binds them together, as too is the Year 2022 - the year they both reached a very special milestone.
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