Line of succession to the Danish throne

Line of succession to the Danish throne
The Crown of Christian IV

Denmark used a system of male-preference primogeniture until 2009. The male preference cognatic primogeniture was changed in favour of an absolute primogeniture (eldest child, regardless of gender). The law was passed by two Parliaments in succession, and later approved by a referendum.

  1. HRH The Crown Prince, Count of Monpezat (Frederik, elder son of The Queen)
  2. HRH Prince Christian of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (elder son of The Crown Prince and Crown Princess)
  3. HRH Princess Isabella of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat (elder daughter of The Crown Prince and Crown Princess)
  4. HRH Prince Vincent of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (younger son of The Crown Prince and Crown Princess) (twin)
  5. HRH Princess Josephine of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat (younger daughter of The Crown Prince and Crown Princess) (twin)
  6. HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (younger son of The Queen)
  7. HH Prince Nikolai of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (elder son of Prince Joachim and the Countess of Frederiksborg)
  8. HH Prince Felix of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (younger son of Prince Joachim and the Countess of Frederiksborg)
  9. HH Prince Henrik of Denmark, Count of Monpezat (son of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie) [1]
  10. HRH The Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (Benedikte, daughter of King Frederick IX and sister of Queen Margrethe II)
  11. HH Princess Elisabeth of Denmark (granddaughter of King Christian X through his second son, Prince Knud)
Christian X
1870 - 1947
reigned 1912-1947
Alexandrine of
Frederick IX
1899 - 1972
reigned 1947-1972
Hereditary Prince Knud
Margrethe II
b. 1940
reigns 1972-present
10) Princess Benedikte
b. 1944
11) Princess Elisabeth
b. 1935
1) Crown Prince Frederik
b. 1968
6) Prince Joachim
b. 1969
2) Prince Christian
b. 2005
3) Princess Isabella
b. 2007
4) Prince Vincent
b. 2011
5) Princess Josephine
b. 2011
7) Prince Nikolai
b. 1999
8) Prince Felix
b. 2002
9) Prince Henrik
b. 2009


Current rules

The Danish Act of Succession[2] adopted on 27 March 1953 restricts the throne to those descended from King Christian X and his wife, Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, through approved marriages.

Dynasts lose their right to the throne if they marry without the permission of the monarch given in the Council of State. Individuals born to unmarried dynasts or to former dynasts that married without royal permission, and their descendants, are excluded from the throne. Further, when approving a marriage, the monarch can impose conditions that must be met in order for any resulting offspring to have succession rights. Part II, Section 9 of the Danish Constitution of 5 June 1953 provides that the parliament will elect a king and determine a new line of succession should a situation arise where there are no eligible descendants of King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine.


The first law governing the Danish monarchy, Kongeloven (Lex Regia) dating from 1665, stated that the line of succession should follow agnatic-cognatic primogeniture, thus allowing female heirs if there was no surviving male heir to the throne. As for the duchies, Holstein and Lauenburg where the King ruled as duke, these lands adhered to Salic law (meaning that only males could inherit the throne). The duchies of Schleswig (a Danish fief), and Holstein and Lauenburg (German fiefs) were joined by personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark.

This difference caused problems when Frederick VII of Denmark was childless, so a change in dynasty was imminent and the lines of succession for the duchies and Denmark conflicted. That meant that the new King of Denmark would not also be the new duke of Holstein and duke of Lauenburg. So for this purpose, the line of succession to the duchies was modified in the London Protocol of 1852, which designated Christian, duke of Glücksburg, as the new heir apparent. Originally, the Danish prime minister Christian Albrecht Bluhme wanted to keep the separate principles, but in the end the government decided on a uniform agnatic primogeniture, which was accepted by the parliament. According to the 1853 Act of Succession, the throne passed to those descended from duke, now King Christian IX of Denmark (having ascended the throne in 1863) who was the grandfather of King Christian X.

The monarch in 1953, King Frederick IX, had three daughters but no sons. Under the 1853 act, the heir-presumptive to the throne was Prince Knud, the King's younger brother. Prince Knud was far less popular than the King was. Further, Knud's mother-in-law, Princess Helena, was accused of supporting the Nazi movement during the Second World War. These factors, combined with a belief that the Salic Law was outdated, resulted in the movement to change the succession law so that Frederick's eldest daughter, the then Princess Margrethe, could inherit the throne. Thus, the Salic law was changed to male-preference primogeniture in 1953, meaning that females could inherit, but only if they had no brothers.

Prince Knud had three children. Ingolf lost his rights to the throne in 1968 when he married without the monarch's permission. He was given the title Count of Rosenborg at that time. Similarly, Knud's younger son, Christian, lost his royal rights and became a Count of Rosenborg when he married without royal permission in 1971. In Denmark, those deprived of their rights to the throne also lose their royal rank and title. Count Ingolf and Count Christian are not to be referred to as princes except in an historical context from the period before they lost their rights. Only Knud's daughter, the unmarried Princess Elisabeth, retains her rights to the throne and the title Princess of Denmark.

Queen Margrethe II's youngest sister, Anne Marie, married King Constantine II of Greece in 1964. In view of the fact that she was marrying a foreign ruler, King Frederick IX decided that neither Anne Marie nor her children would have any right to the Danish throne. When the Queen's other sister, Princess Benedikte, married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 1968, King Frederick IX decreed that her children would need to be raised in Denmark in order to have succession rights. Since the condition was not met, Princess Benedikte's three children do not have any right to the Danish throne. It is unclear (and probably irrelevant) whether her grandchildren and further issue will have succession rights if raised in Denmark.

Before 1953, various descendants of King Christian IX had succession rights in Denmark. The new Act of Succession terminated those rights but left the individuals involved in possession of their titles. This created a class of people with royal titles but no rights to the throne. As a distinction, those entitled to inherit the throne are called "Prins til Danmark" (Prince to Denmark, although this distinction is not made in English) while those without succession rights are referred to as "Prins af Danmark" (Prince of Denmark).

Although the Greek and Norwegian (and partly British) royal families are genealogically part of the Danish royal family, they are not descended from King Christian X and do not have any rights to the Danish throne. Norwegian royals dropped all references to Denmark in their titles but Greek royals continue to use the title "Prince(ss) of Greece and Denmark."

2009 changes to succession

In 2008, the Danish parliament voted in favour of a new royal succession law that allows a first-born child to one day ascend the throne regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl, similar to that of Sweden and Norway. The bill was voted through two successive parliaments, and submitted to a referendum, ensuring that, in future, the heir apparent to the throne of Denmark would be the monarch's first-born child.[3] However, the 'yes' did not change the actual line of succession at that time.[4][5] The Crown Princess gave birth to twins on 8 January 2011. Upon their birth, the twins assumed the fourth and fifth place in the line of succession, according to the absolute primogeniture principle adopted, thereby not giving Prince Vincent precedence over his older sister Princess Isabella.[6]

See also


  1. ^ The Danish Monarchy -- A Prince is born
  2. ^ "ICL - Denmark - Succession to the Throne Act". Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  3. ^ "Danish referendum on succession June 2009". 
  4. ^ "Females get the nod in Denmark". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  5. ^ "Folketingets informationssystem". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  6. ^ A Prince and a Princess are born. Retrieved 18 Jan 2011.

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