Prince Henrik of Denmark

Danish Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik arrive at Aarhus Harbour aboard the Royal Yacht Dannebrog.
Danish Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik arrive at Aarhus Harbour aboard the Royal Yacht Dannebrog.
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Prince Henrik, the French-born husband of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, who has died at 83, was something of a royal rebel in a court not noted for scandal.

Henrik had already publicly vented his frustration at not being the social equal of his wife or their son when he was made prince consort upon Margrethe’s accession to the throne in 1972. But last summer he went further, announcing that when he died he did not want to be buried next to her in the cathedral where the remains of Danish royals have gone for centuries.

The queen already had a specially designed sarcophagus waiting for them.

Henrik, whom the palace said had been diagnosed with dementia last year, was long known for his frank and forthright views.

Born on June 11, 1934, in southwestern France to parents with the noble titles of count and countess, Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat married Denmark’s future queen in 1967.

Henri became Henrik and converted to Denmark’s state Lutheran Church. But he found it difficult to fit in with Denmark’s egalitarian lifestyle.

He was titled prince consort, the husband of a reigning queen but not a king, and he was not in the line of succession – his oldest son Frederik being the heir.

In the mid-1980s, Henrik publicly said he wanted a paycheck instead of relying on the queen, who gets annual allowances.

The law was eventually changed to give him roughly 10 per cent of the annual allocation parliament made to the royals.

In a 2002 interview, Henrik again stunned Danes by saying he felt he had been pushed aside in his own home, not only by his wife but also by his son.

This followed the annual royal new year’s reception for foreign diplomats, where Frederik had been host because his mother was unavailable due to a broken rib.

“For many years I have been number two,” Henrik told the Danish tabloid, BT “I have been satisfied with that role, but after so many years in Denmark I don’t suddenly want to become number three and become some kind of wearisome attachment.”

Henrik lived his first five years in French Indochina. He graduated from universities in Paris, learned Mandarin and Vietnamese and spent a year at the Hong Kong University from 1958-1959.

After his move to Denmark, Henrik, a keen pianist, was active in different organisations and wrote poetry, memoirs and books, including a coffee table book on French gastronomy in 1999.

Margrethe and Henrik also owned a chateau in southwestern France where they retreated every summer.

As a member of the royal family, he held honorary ranks of general in the Danish army and air force, and was an admiral in the navy.

He is survived by his wife, sons Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, and eight grandchildren.