On Sunday, Denmark crowned a new king after the surprise announcement that their previous monarch, Queen Margrethe II, would be stepping down from the throne. The queen had revealed only two weeks earlier that she planned to abdicate the throne to her son, Prince Frederik, making major waves among the Danes — and not just because they admire this 83-year-old woman’s commendable work-life boundaries. Some royal experts suggested the queen fast-tracked her son’s ascension to the throne in order to keep his marriage intact amid rumors of an affair. Am I sensing a spinoff of The Crown? Netflix C-suite, take notes.
Who are the characters in play here?
First, a breakdown of the royal Danish family tree. Queen Margrethe II inherited the throne from her father, Frederick IX, in the ’70s. She’s a third cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and she seems to have a lot in common with England’s former monarch — more on that later. Anyway, Margrethe has two children: Crown Prince Frederik, who’s first in the inheritance line, and his younger brother, Prince Joachim. A few years ago, the queen got major flak for stripping Joachim’s children of their royal titles, which she apologized for, reasoning that she wanted the royal duties to fall onto “fewer members of the royal family.” Needless to say, Joachim was not pleased.
But we’re much more interested in what’s going on with Frederik. Frederik married an Australian marketing consultant named Mary Donaldson (now Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark) in 2004, and they share four children. Their oldest child, Christian, turned 18 last year, entitling him to a new slate of duties and positions in the royal circle. Another thing Christian has going for him: He may or may not be dating another European royal named Maria Chiara di Bourbon-Two Sicilies.
And one of these royals had an affair?
In November, while his wife was in New York for United Nations Day, Frederik was photographed hanging out with a Mexican-born socialite named Genoveva Casanova in Madrid. Not much is known about Casanova, though she was once married to a Spanish count and equestrian and shares two children with him.
According to tabloids, Frederik and Geneveva went to a Picasso exhibit before walking around a park and heading back to her apartment to change. After reemerging in fresh clothes, they allegedly dined out together and caught a flamenco show, staying out until 1 a.m. Sources claimed that a mutual friend was originally supposed to join Frederik at the exhibit but got sick and sent Casanova along because she just so happens to be a Picasso expert.
Casanova told Hola! that the outing was purely platonic, adding that she’s contacted her lawyers about squashing the rumors. The royal family has refused to comment, but at the peak of the rumors, Frederik and Mary made what looked like a deliberately united appearance in Copenhagen, where they welcomed the Spanish king and queen. Since then, the public has been obsessing over possible clues that their marriage is ending — Mary went to Australia alone with two of their children in December before meeting up with Frederik in New Zealand, and the Daily Mail claimed she “shed a tear” while saying good-bye to some friends at the Queensland airport. In other words, not much happened for a few months.
And now this maybe-philanderer is going to be king?
In her annual televised New Year’s Eve address, Queen Margrethe announced that she plans to abdicate the throne to Frederik on January 14, exactly 52 years after she inherited it. No Danish monarch has abdicated in over 500 years, and previous comments from Margrethe indicated she intended to continue queening until her death, making this a pretty big deal. Discussing the impetus behind her decision, Margrethe cited a back surgery she received in February, which led her to feel that “now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.” One historian also suggested that Christian’s coming of age may have influenced her choice, given that he’ll be able to take on more responsibilities as prince.
However, one gossipy royal expert suggested it’s not just about lumbar health — the queen might be hoping that, if her son’s marriage really is in trouble, suddenly thrusting the title of king upon him will solve it. Journalist Phil Dampier told the Daily Mail that, thanks to her tremendous popularity in Denmark, Mary’s departure from the royal family would be a “disaster.” He added in The Guardian, “The Queen has always seen Mary as a tremendous asset.” When Frederik and Mary officially step into their roles, he reasoned, they’ll be “pitched together as King and Queen and they will have to get on with it. The Queen may be thinking that they will patch up their differences and it will save their marriage.” I guess, according to his theory, Margrethe sees rushing into a notoriously stressful and high-profile position as something that would help a couple fight … less?
Then again, it makes sense that Margrethe would see her abdication as the solution for Frederik’s rumored marital strife — she is related to Queen Elizabeth, who (if The Crown is to be believed) frequently gave her children similarly stifling romantic advice. Sounds like the future Danish king and queen may be going on a lot of brisk walks.
Does this have anything to do with the British royal family?
Margrethe’s early retirement has led some commentators to speculate on whether King Charles will pass his throne down to William while he’s still alive. Dampier — this guy really loves to spread rumors — claims William and Kate are close with Frederik and Mary and spoke to them as recently as this week. Perhaps these two couples would enjoy monarching side by side? Also, Margrethe’s announcement was reportedly well received in Denmark, suggesting Charles’s abdication would go over smoothly across the pond. Other experts rejected this notion, pointing out that Charles has been on the throne for less than two years. Still, there is plenty of drama he might want to smooth over by randomly giving up his esteemed title. Maybe William and Harry could get past their differences, if only they were appointed co-kings!
So how is Frederik’s new role going so far?
Less than a week into his reign, King Frederik X is already getting shit done. He managed to release a book, grandly titled The King’s Word, after only three days on the throne. The book, which was co-written with Frederik’s biographer, Jens Anderson, includes a line that tabloids are already speculating refers to the affair allegations. Per an English translation in the New York Post, he wrote, “I love marriage, my wife, our children, and the whole happy base that arises for the people who manage to stay together and persevere.” Seems like a stretch, given the many other elements of marriage one must “persevere” through, but sure. Maybe a lip-reader from the coronation can provide more insight?
This post has been updated.