Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Prince Henrik's blame game

If ever there was a moment to keep quiet and carry on it was just after you'd made yourself a global laughing stock. Prince Henrik is having none of that. Days after getting everyone tutting and tittering by throwing the ultimate royal hissy fit and saying he wouldn't be buried next to his wife because he'd never been given the title of king consort, he's made things even worse. In an interview to be published in full tomorrow, Henrik is laying the blame at the feet of the Queen of Denmark.

Henrik has been speaking to the magazine Se Og Hor from his holiday home in France. The preview has come out today, just as Queen Margrethe arrived at the chateau for a two week break. It's going to be slightly awkward. In the advance clips of the chat, Henrik says his wife ''does not give me the respect a normal wife must give her spouse'' and addresses the row about where he will be buried. He tells the magazine that when it comes to his decision not to be laid to rest with Margrethe when the time comes ''it is her that is making a fool of me''. Because that's made everything better.

Henrik's unprecedented comments on his wife has only increased the debate and concern around the row which began last week when it was revealed that he had decided not to share the specially constructed sarcophagus planned for the two of them at Roskilde Cathedral, the traditional resting place of Denmark's monarchs and their consorts. At the time, the Danish Royal Household said that the French born prince, who married Margrethe in 1967, would be buried in his adopted country while his younger son, Prince Joachim, went on the record to say the family had been aware of the situation for some time.  Since then, the family have been seen out and about on engagements and on a Danish summer holiday but this is the row that won't go away and now Henrik has made it a hundred times worse.

OK, we don't know the full contents of the interview yet but the headlines are pretty surprising to say the least. To openly criticise his wife over a subject many see him as being at fault over isn't just faintly ridiculous, it is hurtful and harmful. Danish newspapers and TV are now full of the argument and in a quiet summer season, this is a story that can run and run. How often does a consort attack their spouse so publicly? How often does a royal attack another in front of an audience? How often does someone with wealth and privilege beyond most of our imaginations get any sympathy by sulking about their title and then blaming someone else when they get bored with the hoo-ha around it? This is the stuff of royal nightmares.

Margrethe will no doubt smile her sunny smile through it all. The Queen of Denmark is a groundbreaker and she's performed her role well through 45 years of service and duty. This isn't going to derail her. But it must have caused a pang or two - and now she's faced with the difficult task of managing this story out of the headlines when it involves a husband who clearly doesn't want to stop talking until he gets a title he thinks is his and which the rest of us know is never going to come his way. We will find out in the weeks ahead how this all ends but Henrik's blame game has put his royal family in a very difficult position. Not really the behaviour of a would be king in anyone's book.

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