Prince Henrik’s 46-year gripe with Denmark’s Queen

Bianca Soldani

After five decades of marriage to Queen Margrethe, there was one thing the late Prince Henrik was never completely satisfied with; a gripe with his wife and the Danish monarchy that he now takes to the grave.

In a move that wouldn’t have felt amiss in an episode of The Crown, 83-year-old Henrik gave a controversial interview last year revealing he was intent on breaking with Danish royal tradition and not being buried alongside his wife.

The reason he cited is the same one he’s taken issue with since Margrethe ascended to the throne 46 years ago.

Prince Henrik, pictured here with Queen Margrethe in 1996, was disappointed he never became 'king'. Photo: Getty

Born in France, Henrik put his birth name - Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat - aside to be known as ‘His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark’, when he married Margrethe, then the Crown Princess, in 1967.

He moved to Denmark and was obliged to renounce his French citizenship, give up his job as a diplomat, and become a protestant, but when in 1972, Margrethe took over from her father and officially become the Queen of Denmark, Henrik retained his title as ‘prince’.

Never becoming king - or as he saw it, never being on equally footing with his wife - was a point of contention which persisted throughout his time as the Queen’s consort and fuelled many a rumour about the stability of their marriage.

Like Princess Mary, Henrik wasn't born in Denmark, and gave up his French citizenship, job, religion and birth name to marry the Queen. Photo: Getty

Just last year he told a Danish publication, “My wife does not give me the respect a normal wife must give her spouse. It is her that is making a fool of me.”

“My wife has decided that she wants to be Queen, and I’m very happy about that. But as a human being she needs to know that if a man and wife are married, they are equal.”

Shortly afterwards, the palace confirmed he had been diagnosed with dementia, but it was by no means the first time he made comments of the like.

He had long been critical of his royal title, and last year he renounced it completely. Photo: Getty

In 1997 Henrik - who passed away in his sleep on February 13 - said people considered him as “a little dog that follows behind and gets a sugar cube once in a while.”

Five years later and completely fed up, he left Denmark entirely to retreat to the south of France alone.

He said his sudden seclusion was to reflect on his role in the Danish royal family after his son, Crown Prince Frederik, was chosen over him to host a New Year's Eve party while the Queen was unavailable.

"I need time to think,” he said at the time, “For many years I have been Denmark's number two. I've been satisfied with that role, but I don't want to be relegated to number three after so many years."

Henrik was no where to be seen during his wife's 75th birthday celebrations in 2015. Photo: Getty

He added that he felt "degraded all the time, disappointed all the time, and walked over in such a way that my self-respect is destroyed".

In another public snubbing, Henrik pulled out of his wife’s 75th birthday party in 2015. It was reported that a bout of the flu was to blame for his absence, but just two days later, the prince was photographed living it up in Italy.

A local newspaper headline at the time read: "Too ill to celebrate birthday: Now the prince consort has gone on holiday to Venice".

Henrik’s antics earned him the nickname of ‘the world’s grumpiest royal’, and culminated in him finally rejecting his royal title of ‘Prince Consort’ last year.

In an official statement, the royal family annouced that "His Royal Highness Prince Henrik died Tuesday, February 13 at 23:18 peacefully in his sleep at Fredensborg Palace".

He was surrounded by his wife and the couple’s two sons, Prince Frederick and Prince Joachim.

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