Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Prince Henrik, the Charming Consort


As Denmark loses its consort and Queen Margrethe her beloved husband, a look back at the life of the prince who wanted to be king.

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 Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat was born on June 11th 1934 in Talence in the Gironde in France.  His parents, Count Andre de Laborde de Monpezat and Renee de Laborde de Monpezat, took him to the country now known as Vietnnam as a baby where his father ran a business.  The man who would become consort of Denmark spent his early years in the Far East before moving to Paris when he was 18 to study at the Sorbonne.  Henri de Laborde de Monpezat served in the French Army before beginning a career at the French Foreign Ministry.  It was while he was doing this job that he met and fell in love with a Danish woman called Margrethe - who was heiress to her country's throne.  The couple married in Copenhagen in 1967 and Henrik's life changed completely, overnight.


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Everything that the new prince had known until then underwent an alteration.  His French name, Henri, changed to Henrik and the religion he had known all his life was altered too - he had been raised a Catholic but now became a member of the Church of Denmark.  He left his job and changed his nationality as well. He learned to speak the language of his new country and to walk a step behind his wife. The couple had two sons, Frederik (who was born 1968) and Joachim (born in 1969) before another change for bother of them. On January 14th 1972, Margrethe became Queen of Denmark on the death of her father and on that day, Henrik became consort of his adopted country.



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The prince carved out a role for himself with a string of causes to which he became devoted - among them wildlife.  He was known for his love of culture wrote a memoir as well as several volumes of poetry and musical scores. He was a much loved father and a doting grandfather to the eight grandchildren that joined the family over the years.




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There was controversy, too, as Henri called to be made a king consort rather than prince consort on several occasions. In 2008, it was announced that all his descendants would bear his family honour of Count (or Countess) of Monpezat' as one of their titles. He was given the official title of Prince Consort in 2005 but gave that up in 2016.



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Henrik was diagnosed with dementia in 2017 and became ill with a lung infection last month. He died at Fredensborg Castle at 23.18 on February 13th with his wife of over 50 years at his side.

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