Monday, January 16, 2012

Margrethe 40: The Prime Minister's Speech to the Queen

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt gave a very gracious speech in honour of her relatively new queen. She even included a little anecdote about the queen from her own childhood. Chapeau, madame! Too bad crazily made up Crown Princess Mary (her eyelashes must weigh half a stone!) couldn't always listen graciously and when tired of looking around the room, instead found silly things to whisper to her table partner, poor King Constantine.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Dear Queen Margrethe.

Today 40 years ago you got a great responsibility in the middle of deep sorrow. You lost your beloved father, and Denmark lost a dear king.

You talked about the difficulty of having responsibility at a young age and as a young mother. But also about the strength it gives to the duty and destiny to him.

I know that day is strong in your memory. Of course.

And on 15 January 1972 is a day that stands strong in the mind of us all together - all of us who are old enough to remember it.

It was a day when the Danes stood shoulder to shoulder in front of Christiansborg Palace and the streets to the square - despite the fact that it probably was not really a matter of course back in the early '70s.

It was the break-up times. Everything was under fire - especially the traditions. But not that day.

All kinds of people showed up, old and young, maybe even a republican or two.

And those who had not taken the trip to the castle courtyard on this bitter cold January day, were sitting at home on the sofa in front of the TV. Many places had to be off the couch and go and right on the ground antenna for the black-white image to be quite sharp.

And it did so. The picture of the young queen in black dress and with a mourning veil that the wind blew around. The picture was with us out in living rooms. It hit us in the heart.

And there you have been ever since.

With dignity, with proximity and wisely have you been an anchor for the Danes.

Throughout your work, you have a solid backing from all your great family. They talked about the great support your mother Queen Ingrid was for you. She was a focal point for the entire royal family and a loving grandmother of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

But someone has probably supported them more than anyone else. That's your husband. I want tonight to say a special thanks to Your Royal Highness the Prince Consort.

The Queen is safe in anchorage and in her life companion. You have supported the Queen in official work and in family life. You have helped to give the Crown the special status it has. We owe you as well a big thank you today.

You were and are a talented queen. It would take too long to list the many talents. The food would be cold and the guests hungry. And fortunately it is not necessary.

Because we know what you can do.

I will therefore limit myself to reveal one of your hidden talents.

I know - because I myself have had a taste - that you master the dialects from across the country. Yes, you can, too. And it is no coincidence.

It shows how much you know your country and how much they love their countrymen. That you have respect for the whole realm and for diversity.

A respect that also shows up when you a couple times a month receive Danes in the audience. Preferably over a hundred people.

And everybody gets your attention. From the educator who has worked 40 years with learning disabilities, to the driver with a long career at the track. It's part of your work you are talking very warmly about.

They make an impression when you arrive. I remember when the Queen inaugurated the S-train station in Ishøj in 1976. All of us had to go and attend the event. We stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of a true queen. I remember the tense atmosphere.

The mayor in her fanciest clothes. Expectant children. And the feeling of living in a city that had been visited by a very special guest. As we were just too much.

I know that I share the kind of memories with thousands of citizens throughout the kingdom, who have appreciated that you made their cities into something special.

Today you have reigned over Denmark through 40 years. It's a long time for one person. But it is a short time compared to the age-old chain, you are a part in.

I will go back in time. Not fully to Gorm the Old. But in 1947 when a newspaper obituary praised your grandfather, Christian X, as a "model of government". An editorial in the same newspaper concluded that the monarchy was no longer a "match question" in Denmark.

And no, it was not Berlingske Tidende. The bourgeois newspapers didn't publish because of the typographer strike. It was the Land and People.

Since then there has not been serious questions about the royal family in Denmark.

Christian X was "the straight-backed king," as it was so graphically described in the Danish Communist newspaper.

Frederik IX invited Denmark within the family.

And as Margarethe 2 has the same way done things your own way.

Then in 1972 the court had to get used to seeing a woman in office after a long series of men. Margarethe 1, after all, was many hundred years ago. And there may be things we women do differently.

But first and foremost, you have completed your role as regent in tune with the times.

Your New Year's speeches affect the zeitgeist. Yes, the Danish language gets renewed. I need not mention the word.

All of Denmark knows what I think.

You have even said with your usual irony: "There is nothing so clever as people you agree with." I might add: The New Year speeches manage to say something clever, that everyone immediately declares that they agree with.

Through three generations the royal family renewed its role in a vibrant democracy. Also next generation, in the Crown Prince, has found its role as a modern family.

But is a monarchy in a democratic society is not something of a paradox? How is it possible?

Some explain the royal family success that it is good business. It procures orders for Danish companies, tourists to the kingdom and a positive reputation in the world around us.

That's right all along. But the story is much bigger than that.

Monarchy is not a business. Monarchy is a national rallying point - a part of our identity as Danes. A fixed point through changing times.

This morning we held State Council number 500 during the Queen's savvy management. Through 500 meetings, The State Council has directed eight prime ministers and many more governments and ministers.

And when the government is formed, it ensures the monarch that everything will go well for him. That we have an unimpeachable framework for democracy.

And the Crown binds the whole kingdom together. There is a deep and mutual respect between the Queen and the Greenlandic and the Faroese people.
Is the Royal Family as a paradox in modern times? No, far from it. Denmark's royal family is a full and complete part of a modern Denmark.

But it requires a certain sense of brinkmanship by the ruler. To balance between contemporary and tradition without falling into the ditch. It takes a queen.

I know I speak for all of Denmark, when I express great respect for and recognition of the way you have managed your role. We are proud of our Queen.

Dear Queen Margrethe. They are not only Denmarks Queen. They are the Danish queen.

And on behalf of all Danes is a great honor to congratulate you with their 40 year anniversary. Congratulations from all over Denmark.

I would ask everyone to stand up and deliver a nifoldigt live for Her Majesty the Queen.

Her Majesty the Queen Long live!

Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah
Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah
Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah

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