Pictures: Queen Margrethe II Officially Abdicates Throne of Denmark

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II signed her historic abdication on Sunday, paving the way for her son Frederik X to immediately become king, Danish broadcaster DR reported.

Margrethe, 83, is the first Danish monarch to voluntarily relinquish the throne in nearly 900 years since King Erik III Lam stepped down to enter a monastery in 1146.

She signed her abdication during a meeting with the Danish Cabinet at the Christiansborg Palace, a vast complex in Copenhagen that houses the Royal Reception Rooms and Royal Stables as well as the Danish Parliament, the prime minister’s office and the Supreme Court. The document was presented to her as she sat at a massive table covered in red cloth around which royals and members of the Danish government were seated.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark leaves for the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II steps down as Queen of Denmark and and entrusts the Danish throne to His Royal Highness The Crown Prince, who becomes His Majesty King Frederik X and Head of State of Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark leaves for the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

Frederik, 55, was present in the room. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will next proclaim him king on the balcony of the palace before thousands of people.

Frederik’s 18-year-old son, Christian, who becomes Denmark’s crown prince and heir to the throne, was also in attendance.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: Posters show Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe II prior to the proclamation of the Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. King Frederik X is succeeding Queen Margrethe II, who is stepping down after reigning for 51 years. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: Posters show Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe II prior to the proclamation of the Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As the moment neared, Margrethe left her residence for the Christiansborg Palace in a horse-drawn coach escorted by members of the Hussar Regiment in blue uniforms with red jackets on horses. There she is set to formally sign her abdication.

Her son and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, also left for the palace in a limousine. Later the royal standard will be lowered on Margrethe’s home and raised on the building where Frederik and Mary live.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark leaves for the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II steps down as Queen of Denmark and and entrusts the Danish throne to His Royal Highness The Crown Prince, who becomes His Majesty King Frederik X and Head of State of Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark leaves for the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

Citing health issues, Margrethe announced on New Year’s Eve that she would step down, stunning a nation that had expected her to live out her days on the throne, as is tradition in the Danish monarchy. Margrethe underwent major back surgery last February and didn’t return to work until April.

Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was unaware of the queen’s intentions until right before the announcement. Margrethe had informed Frederik and his younger brother Joachim just three days earlier, the Berlingske newspaper wrote, citing the royal palace.

The abdication will leave Denmark with two queens: Margrethe will keep her title while Frederik’s Australian-born wife will become Queen Mary. Frederik and Mary’s eldest son Christian, 18, will become crown prince and heir to the throne.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: The carriage of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark arrives as crowds of people wave Danish flags ahead the proclamation of Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. King Frederik X is succeeding Queen Margrethe II, who is stepping down after reigning for 51 years. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: The carriage of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark arrives as crowds of people wave Danish flags ahead the proclamation of Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

People from across Denmark gathered outside parliament, with many swarming streets decorated with the red and white Danish flags. Several shops hung photos of the queen and king-to-be, while city buses were adorned with smaller Danish flags as is customary during royal events. Many others across the kingdom of nearly 6 million people followed a live TV broadcast of the historic event.

The royal guards’ music band made their daily parade through downtown Copenhagen but wore red jackets, instead of their usual black, to mark major events.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: The honor guard prepares ahead of the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II steps down as Queen of Denmark and entrusts the Danish throne to His Royal Highness The Crown Prince, who becomes His Majesty King Frederik X and Head of State of Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: The honor guard prepares ahead of the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

Copenhagen resident Rene Jensen, wearing a replica of a royal robe and a bejeweled purple crown on his head, said he expects Frederik to be “a king for the nation, representing us everywhere.”

The last time a Danish monarch voluntarily resigned was in 1146 when King Erik III Lam stepped down to enter a monastery. Margrethe will be abdicating on the same day she ascended the throne following the death of her father, King Frederik IX.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: Well-wishers wearing crowns and coronation robes gather outside Christiansborg Palace on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Crown Prince Frederik will succeed Queen Margrethe II, who is stepping down after reigning for 51 years, as King Frederik X later today. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: Well-wishers wearing crowns and coronation robes gather outside Christiansborg Palace on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Denmark’s monarchy traces its origins to 10th-century Viking king Gorm the Old, making it the oldest in Europe and one of the oldest in the world. Today the royal family’s duties are largely ceremonial.

Australians also turned out on the streets of Copenhagen to celebrate one of their own becoming queen.

“I think it’s good that she’s not from royalty and has a normal Australian background. We can relate more to that because she’s from a middle-class background, and we are too,” said Judy Langtree, who made the long journey from Brisbane with her daughter to witness the royal event.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: A young boy wears a crown and waves flags prior to the proclamation of the Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. King Frederik X is succeeding Queen Margrethe II, who is stepping down after reigning for 51 years. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: A young boy wears a crown and waves flags prior to the proclamation of the Crown Prince as new Danish King Frederik X on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Unlike in the UK, there is no coronation ceremony in Denmark. The prime minister will formally proclaim Frederik king from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, which houses government offices, Parliament and the Supreme Court as well as the Royal Stables and Royal Reception Rooms.

Four guns on the Copenhagen harbor will fire three times 27 rounds to mark the succession. In the late afternoon, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens amusement park plans to celebrate the new king and queen with the biggest fireworks show in the park’s 180-year history.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 14: The Guard Hussar Regiment arrive ahead the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II steps down as Queen of Denmark and and entrusts the Danish throne to His Royal Highness The Crown Prince, who becomes His Majesty King Frederik X and Head of State of Denmark. (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JANUARY 14: The Guard Hussar Regiment arrive ahead the proclamation of HM King Frederik X and HM Queen Mary of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace Square on January 14, 2024 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  (Photo by Martin Sylvest Andersen/Getty Images)

A survey – commissioned by Denmark’s public broadcaster DR – published Friday showed that 79% of the 1,037 people polled by the Epinion polling institute said that they believed Frederik was prepared to take the reigns and 83% said they thought his wife Mary was ready to become queen. The survey margin of error was 3 percentage points, DR said.

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