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Prime Minister defends Queen at huge festivities

The monarchy is an important part of Danish democracy, says prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt after extravagant royal weekend. Others are not so sure

Monarchy and democracy fit well together. This was Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s message at, and in connection with, the gala dinner celebrating Danish Queen Margrethe’s 40th anniversary on the throne.

The dinner came after a long weekend of pageantry, ceremony and parades in Copenhagen and non-stop coverage on all Danish public-service tv channels.

»It creates a solid and secure framework and is an institution that connects our modern democracy with earlier times. We must hold on to it,« she is reported as saying by and Berlingske.

Paradoxical public respect

Her fellow governing Social Democrats and prominent politicians from other governing parties are not so sure however, and would like to see the Royal Family’s political role diminished. The Royal Family costs the Danish taxpayer DKK 350 million, exclusive of huge costs for, for example, police security, and were given large salary increases during the financial crisis. The Queen’s defenders point to the fact that monarchy is good for Danish business.

A massive 82 per cent of the electorate support the royal family, while just 12 per cent believe Denmark should become a republic, according to a recent report by Voxmeter. A paradox, as the traditions of the monarchy are in sharp contrast to a modern society, election expert Johannes Andersen of Aalborg University says.

»Logically, and in terms of democracy, it would be more natural too see rising opposition to the royals, but that hasn’t occurred because we have a well-functioning monarchy with a modern family that the public respects and looks up to«.

Monarchy at home, democracy abroad

Criticism of the Danish monarchy is still to be found however: and out on the fringes, in the University of Copenhagen, as our Danish section Universitetsavisen found out.

History student Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard is a member of the Danish republican movement DRGB.

»There is a mismatch between what we fight to promote in the outside world, democracy etc., and what we uphold at home with our Royal Family.«

Republicans: Need of ‘Danish spring’

Economics student Arvid Aagaard has an even sharper anti-monarchist tongue:

»How does it look from the perspective of the outside world, when the Queen last year personally handed the King of Bahrain the highest Danish order, when he afterwards went out and mowed down a democratic rebellion?

»Maybe we need a Danish spring.«

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