Tuesday, 22 August 2017

My latest article: The troubled history of kings consort

Earlier this month, Prince Henrik of Denmark caused quite an uproar when he announced that he no longer wants to be buried together with his wife of fifty years, Queen Margrethe II. In a series of interviews he also launched a personal attack on his wife, who he claimed makes a fool of him, and stated that he would be willing to reconsider the decision about his burial place if she would agree to make him King Consort.
It was explained that the Prince’s decision was made because of his dissatisfaction with his title and function, something a spokeswoman said had become more and more important for him in recent years. It is far from the first time Prince Henrik raises the issue of his title and the fact that he believes that as the wife of a king is queen, a queen’s husband ought to be king (i.e. king consort and not, as some ill-informed people have claimed, take over as monarch).
Many seem to think that this is an idea Prince Henrik has grasped out of thin air, but in a long article in today’s issue of the broadsheet Politiken (external link) I recount the history of kings consort, which began in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century and soon spread to Naples, Spain, Navarre, Portugal, Poland, England, Scotland and Cyprus. In fact, the husbands of queens regnant were actually usually (although not always) styled kings and many of them took part in the governance of the realm. The so far last king consort in Europe died as recently as 1902, and it is only during the last century and a half that it has become more common for male consorts not to be called kings. Thus, although Prince Henrik may have history and principles on his side, it seems highly unlikely that he will ever achieve his dream of becoming King Consort of Denmark.