Danish Queen Margrethe abdicates in her annual New Year's Eve speech

"The sovereign is there, you belong to your country, you don't belong to any section of it, or even any part of it. One belongs to one's whole nation," Queen Margrethe II told ITV News in an interview in 2022.

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II will abdicate next year, she announced in her annual New Year's Eve speech on Sunday.

The Danish queen will have spent exactly 52 years as the country's head of state when she stands down on January 14, and will be succeeded by her eldest son Prince Frederik. She is currently the world's only female monarch.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed the decision and paid tribute to the 83-year-old monarch, offering a “heartfelt thank you to Her Majesty the Queen for her lifelong dedication.”

Margrethe is the “epitome of Denmark” Frederiksen’s statement read, and “throughout the years has put words and feelings into who we are as a people and as a nation.”

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II during celebrations for her 83rd birthday, on her Amalienborg Castle balcony in Copenhagen. Credit: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP

The queen's role is largely ceremonial in Denmark, but she won the admiration of Danes for her warm manners and her linguistic and design talents.

Queen Margrethe has been active throughout her life, serving as a member of a Danish women's air force unit as a princess, to visiting Danish troops in southern Afghanistan in 2011, aged 70.

The Danish queen caused controversy last year when she decided to strip her heirs of their royal titles. She said she removed the titles from four of her grandchildren in an attempt to allow them to live normal lives.

The move caused backlash and the queen then apologised for how she handled the situation.

She said the decision had been a long time coming but justified it by adding: "Difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…