Danish royal family 'in shock' after Queen Margrethe strips grandchildren of royal titles

The Danish royal family in 2010. Credit: AP

The Danish royal family have said they are "in shock" following Queen Margrethe II's decision to strip four of her grandchildren of their titles in the hope they will live a more normal life.

Prince Nikolai said he was "very sad" to be stripped of his royal title by his grandmother in his first interview since the Danish queen's public statement on Wednesday.

“We are, as my parents have also stated, in shock at this decision and at how quickly it has actually gone.

“I am very confused as to why it has to happen like this," he told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

Nikolai said he was informed of the decision “a little over a week ago” but felt more upset after the public announcement that cemented the bombshell decision.

Prince Nikolai and his siblings, Prince Felix, 20, Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, 10, will no longer bear the titles prince and princess, although they will maintain their order in the line of succession.

His father, Prince Joachim told the paper the family were "all very sad" at his mother's decision. 

"It's never fun to see your children being mistreated like that. They themselves find themselves in a situation they do not understand," he said.

From January 1, 2023, Prince Joachim's four children will be given the titles Count and Countess instead of Prince and Princess.

Neither Prince Nikolai nor his father would comment on how the decision had affected relations with the 82-year-old monarch, who after the death of Queen Elizabeth II is Europe's longest-reigning sovereign.

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik with their grandchildren (from left) Prince Nikolai, Prince Christian, Prince Felix and Princess Athena. Credit: AP

Queen Margrethe's statement on Wednesday read: “The Queen’s decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years.

“With her decision, Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves.”

The royal household said their HRH titles will be “discontinued,” adding: “Prince Joachim’s descendants will thus have to be addressed as excellencies in the future.”

Joachim, the Queen’s second son, lives in Paris with his wife, Princess Marie, and their two children, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10.

Nikolai, 23, and Felix, 20, are Joachim's sons from his first marriage to Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg.

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Press secretary to Countess Alexandra, Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen, told CNN: “She can’t believe why and why now, because there’s no good reason. They would lose their titles anyway when they get married one day. Her sons are young men so maybe they might get married in the near future so why shouldn’t it wait until that day so that the titles would disappear on a happy day?”

The palace said the move was a “natural extension” of a long held desire by the queen to slim down the monarchy, saying: “In April 2008, Her Majesty The Queen bestowed upon her sons, their spouses and their descendants the titles of count and countess of Monpezat.

"In May 2016, it was also announced that His Royal Highness Prince Christian, as the only one of The Queen’s grandchildren, is expected to receive an annuity from the state as an adult.”

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. Credit: AP

Ms Von Wildenrath Løvgreen said: “Their father told his children. They were quite shocked."

“It’s just their loss of identity and it’s very hard for little children and young men. As Prince Nikolai said to me, ‘what will they write in my passport now?’”

Joachim’s older brother, Crown Prince Frederik, who has four children, is first in line to the throne.