Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has apologized after removing the royal titles of four of her eight grandchildren. She’s not changing her mind about the move, however.
The 82-year-old monarch, who earlier this year celebrated half a century on the throne, announced on Thursday that from next year the children of her younger son, Prince Joachim, will no longer be known as prince and princess.
Instead, they will only be able to use their titles of counts and countess of Monpezat and will be addressed as excellencies, as their HRH titles will be “discontinued,” according to the royal household.
Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen, press secretary to Countess Alexandra, the former wife of Prince Joachim, told CNN on Thursday that Joachim and his children were “sad” and “shocked” by the decision, which Queen Margrethe views “as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy,” according to a statement from the Queen released by the royal house on Monday.
“In recent days, there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim’s four children. That affects me, of course,” the monarch said in the statement.
“My decision has been a long time coming. With my 50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times. Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment,” she added.
The Queen said she made the “adjustment” to allow the junior royals to lead more normal lives, while following a similar decision by other royal families to slim down the monarchy.
“Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family,” she said.
Crown Prince Frederik, the Queen’s older son, is first in line to the throne. His oldest child, Prince Christian, is second in line. All four of Frederik’s children retain their titles.
His younger brother, Joachim, lives in Paris with his wife, Princess Marie, and their two children, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10. The prince also has two older sons, Nikolai, 23, and Felix, 20, from his first marriage to Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg. While Joachim’s children will lose their royal titles, they will maintain their places in the order of succession.
The monarch said: “I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected. That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.”
She added: “No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.”
CNN’s Lianne Kolirin contributed to this report.