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Danish queen makes last public appearance before stepping down in a rare abdication – ABC News

Queen Margrethe rode through Denmark’s capital in a gilded, horse-drawn coach as she concluded her last New Year celebrations before her Jan. 14 abdication after 52 years on the throne

By JAN M. OLSEN Associated Press

Danish Queen Margrethe arrives to greet the diplomatic corps on occasion of the New Year, at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday Jan. 3, 2024. (Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Europe’s longest reigning monarch Queen Margrethe rode through Denmark’s capital Thursday in a gilded, horse-drawn coach as she concluded her last New Year celebrations before her abdication later this month.

Thousands braved the freezing temperatures, strong winds, snow and sleet to cheer the popular queen along the route in what is to be her last public appearance as monarch. She will step down on Jan. 14 after 52 years on the throne.

The 83-year-old monarch will hand the throne to her oldest son, Crown Prince Frederik in the first such resignation in Europe’s oldest ruling monarchy in nearly 900 years.

Margrethe rode in the so-called Gold Coach — pulled by six white horses — that is used when the monarch rides from the royal residence at the Amalienborg Palace to the Christiansborg Palace during the traditional New Year’s fete with officers from the Armed Forces, among others.

The monarch wore a fur coat and white gloves in the closed 19th-century coach covered in 24-karat gold leaf and topped with four gilded crowns on the roof. It was escorted by members of the Hussar Regiment in blue uniforms with red jackets.

Earlier this week, Queen Margrethe held a series of events to greet the Danish government, parliament, top civilian and military officials and foreign diplomats.

The Christiansborg Palace which is used for official royal events, such as gala banquets and public audiences, also houses the Danish parliament, the prime minister’s office and Denmark’s highest court. It is located a little over half a mile from Amalienborg.

The queen will sign her formal abdication on Jan. 14 at a state council — a meeting with the Danish government — making Frederik, 55, and his Australian-born wife Mary, 51, king and queen of Denmark.

Although monarchs in several European countries have abdicated to allow younger royalty to take over, there is no such tradition in Denmark.

For years, Margrethe has insisted that she will not quit. However, her health has changed that. In her annual New Year televised address on Dec. 31, Margrethe said back surgery in early 2023 led to “thoughts about the future” and when to pass on the responsibilities of the crown to her son. “I have decided that now is the right time,” she said.

When she ascended the throne in 1972 after her late father, King Frederik IX, only 42% of Danes supported the monarchy. The most recent survey shows that 84% of Danes favor it to a high or some degree.

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