Denmark's Queen Margrethe II waves to crowds for the last time after surprise abdication

Denmark's Queen Margrethe in a horse-drawn coach from Christian IX's Palace. Credit: AP

Crowds of thousands braved freezing temperatures to see the Queen of Denmark for the final time before she steps down from the throne.

The ever-popular queen made her last public appearance on Thursday after announcing her surprise-abdication in her New Year's Eve message.

Six horses pulled Queen Margethe in the Gold Coach, which is used when the monarch rides from the royal residence at the Amalienborg Palace to the Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen during the traditional New Year’s fete.

She 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.

She wore a fur coat and white gloves for her final public goodbye. Credit: AP

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 queen will sign her formal abdication on January 14 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 Credit: AP

She will have spent exactly 52 years as the country's head of state when she stands down.

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 insisted she would not quit, but her health recently took a turn for the worse.

In her annual New Year televised address, 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.

Six horses pulled the Gold Coach as the queen made her final state appearance. Credit: AP

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

Although monarchs in several European countries have abdicated to allow younger royalty to take over, this is not a tradition in Denmark.

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

She is currently the world's only female monarch.

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