Prince Henrik, the French-born husband of Danish monarch Queen Margrethe, has died at the age of 83.
Henrik, who had publicly vented his frustration at not being the social equal of his wife or their son in line to become Denmark’s king, was surrounded by his family when he died ‘peacefully in his sleep’ late on Tuesday at Fredensborg Palace.
He was diagnosed with dementia last year and was hospitalised late last month with a lung infection.
Earlier on Tuesday, Henrik was moved from a Copenhagen hospital to the family’s residence north of the capital, ‘where he wishes to spend his last moments,’ the royal palace said.
A later statement said Henrik died at 11.18pm in his sleep and that Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and their children, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, 49, and Prince Joachim of Denmark, 48 were at his side.
Crown Prince Frederik had cut short his trip to the Winter Olympics and flown back from South Korea to be with his father after Prince Henrik’s condition had ‘seriously worsened’ in recent days.
Speculation has mounted since early last year that Queen Margrethe II will abdicate the throne. If this does happen, Frederik is next in line – which would leave his Australian wife Crown Princess Mary, 46, as queen consort.
The Danish royal family has no political authority, but is one of the world’s oldest kingdoms and prides itself on stability.
Henrik, however, caused a scandal last August by announcing that when he died he didn’t want to be buried next to Margrethe in the cathedral where the remains of Danish royals have gone for centuries.
The queen already had a specially designed sarcophagus waiting for the couple.
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. However, 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 wasn’t in the line of succession – his oldest son Frederik being the heir.