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Europe’s longest-reigning monarch makes last public appearance

  • Queen Margrethe, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, concluded her final New Year's celebrations in the Danish capital before abdicating on January 14.
  • Thousands of people braved sub-zero temperatures to cheer on the popular queen in her final public appearance as king.
  • The 83-year-old Queen will hand over the throne to her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederick.

Queen Margrethe, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, rode through the Danish capital on Thursday in a golden chariot to wrap up her final New Year's celebrations before abdicating later this month.

Thousands of people braved subzero temperatures, strong winds, snow and sleet to cheer on the popular queen on the roadside in her final public appearance as king. She will abdicate on January 14th after 52 years on the throne.

The 83-year-old monarch will be the first to step down in Europe's oldest monarchy in nearly 900 years, handing over the throne to her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederick.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark announces she will step down from the throne: 'The time is now'

Margrethe rode on a so-called gold coach pulled by six white horses. The carriage will be used to transport the King from his residence at Amalienborg Palace to Christiansborg Palace during traditional New Year's celebrations with officers of the Armed Forces. .

Queen Margrethe of Denmark rides a horse-drawn carriage from Christian IX Palace at Amalienborg Castle to Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark, January 4, 2024. (Emil Nikolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpics, via AP)

The monarch wore a fur coat and white gloves and rode in a 19th-century closed carriage covered in 24-carat gold leaf and topped with four golden crowns. They were escorted by members of a light cavalry regiment in blue uniforms with red jackets.

Earlier this week, Queen Margrethe hosted a series of events welcoming the Danish government, parliament, top civilian and military officials, and diplomats.

Christiansborg Palace is used for official royal functions such as gala dinners and public audiences, and also houses the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Danish Supreme Court. It is located about 800 meters from Amalienborg Palace.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has undergone “major back surgery'' and is currently in stable condition.

The Queen will officially sign her abdication on January 14 at the Council of State, a meeting with the Danish government, making Frederick, 55, and his Australian-born wife Mary, 51, King and Queen of Denmark.

In some European countries, monarchs have abdicated to allow younger royals to take over, but Denmark has no such tradition.

For years, Margrethe has insisted she would not quit. But her health changed that. In her annual televised New Year's speech on December 31, Margrethe said that following her back surgery in early 2023, she was “thinking about her future” and plans when. She said she began to consider passing on the responsibilities of the throne to her son. She “decided now was the right time,” she said.

When she took the throne in 1972, succeeding her late father Frederick IX, only 42% of Danes supported the monarchy. The latest survey shows that 84% of Danish girlfriends support the country to some degree or to some extent.

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