*Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is Europe’s longest-serving living monarch at age 82.
*The Danish queen inherited the title after the death of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth II.
*Dubbed the “Ashtray Queen,” she has more in common with her British counterpart than some may think.
When Queen Elizabeth II died, her role as the longest-reigning living monarch in Europe was inherited by her distant cousin, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, aged 96. During her 70-year reign, she picked up a few unofficial royal titles, including the longest-reigning living monarch.
Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, who has reigned for almost 55 years, is now the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, according to Mail Online. But in Europe specifically, the Queen’s distant cousin, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, is now the longest-reigning monarch alive.
The Queen and Margrethe, 82, were third cousins and related via Queen Victoria, Tatler reports. But they weren’t just relatives, they were friends. According to The Independent, the Danish queen was the first international royal to send a letter of condolence to King Charles III.
“I send you and Camilla my warmest thoughts and prayers,” Margrethe said, according to the publication. “She was a towering figure among the European monarchs and a great inspiration to us all. We shall miss her terribly.”
Like her British counterpart, Margrethe became a queen at a young age. She inherited the title after her father, King Frederik IX, died when she was 32.
In 1952, Elizabeth II was just 25 when her father, King George VI, died, making her the new monarch of the UK. The Queen’s official coronation was held at Westminster Abbey in 1953.
Meanwhile, Margrethe also became a queen at an early age. In 1972, her father, King Frederik IX, died of complications from pneumonia. At 32, she was his eldest daughter and subsequently took his place on the throne, The New York Times reported.
Margrethe said in an interview with ITV in May that she looked to Queen Elizabeth growing up.
“I hoped I wouldn’t be as young as that when my father died. It made an enormous impression on me. The fact that she was dedicating her life. I understood what that meant,” Margrethe said. “That is the whole point of my life. And I know she sees that too.”
Both Elizabeth and Margrethe had love stories that spanned decades.
When she was a princess, Elizabeth married Prince Phillip, who she’d originally met as a child in 1936. Starting from their wedding in 1947, the couple were constantly by each other’s side until Phillip died at age 99 in April 2021.
Similarly, the love story between Margrethe and her husband, the late Prince Henrik of Denmark, spanned decades. The pair initially met at a dinner party in London in 1965 while Margrethe was studying economics at university, Royal Central reported. They were married for 50 years until Henrik died aged 83 in 2018.
Both queens married men who struggled to be in their wives’ shadows, but Margrethe’s husband was much more outspoken in his desire to be equal.
At the start of his wife’s reign, Prince Phillip reportedly struggled to adapt to his role as Prince Consort. According to The Atlantic’s Helen Lewis, Phillip felt emasculated to the point of describing himself as a mere “amoeba” in his wife’s shadow. But as life continued, he appeared to ease into his role as her closest confidante, never outwardly expressing dislike for his role.
The same cannot be said for Prince Henrik. He wanted to be a king rather than a prince consort, and felt “pushed aside, degraded, and humiliated” when Margrethe let their son represent her at royal occasions instead of him, the BBC reported.
So bitter was Henrik about being in his wife’s shadow that he told the Danish magazine Se og Hør that he didn’t want to be buried alongside her in 2017, People reported. “If she wants to bury me with her, she must make me a king consort,” Henrik said, according to People.
While Queen Elizabeth loved a cocktail, Queen Margrethe is said to be an avid smoker, which led to her being dubbed the “Ashtray Queen.”
Until royal chef Darren McGrady set the record straight in 2017, there were reports that Queen Elizabeth II drank as many as four cocktails a day. “She’d be pickled if she drank that much,” he told Insider.
Even so, McGrady did say that the late monarch enjoyed a cocktail, her favorite being a gin and Dubonnet.
According to The Telegraph, Margrethe’s life-long habit of smoking cigarettes gained her the nickname of “the Ashtray Queen.”
This came in 2001 after a Swedish outlet reported she smoked while visiting asthmatic residents in a retirement home and that she had a staff member follow her around with an ashtray, The Telegraph reported. However, when asked about her smoking, the publication reported that Margrethe said: “I have no problem.”
Both queens enjoyed pursuing hobbies. While Queen Elizabeth was keen on horse riding, Queen Margrethe is a fully-fledged costume and set designer.
Queen Elizabeth had a life-long affinity for horse riding – she first hopped into the saddle at the age of 3 and continued riding until she died. As Insider’s Lloyd Lee previously reported, she owned as many as 100 horses in a given year and was even a competitive racehorse owner.
Also one to pursue her passions, Queen Margrethe is a reputable costume and set designer, according to Royal Central. The outlet reported that her work has been seen in various film and stage productions, including a Netflix fantasy film.
She’s also a keen illustrator – under a pseudonym, her work was famously used in the Danish translation of “The Lord of the Rings” in the 1970s, the publication added.
Queen Margrethe and Queen Elizabeth also shared a love for colorful, and sometimes eccentric, attire.
Although Queen Elizabeth was known to rarely depart from her safe, go-to outfits, she did on occasion venture into more daring styles. From spaghetti-like hats to patchwork quilt dresses, she showed an appreciation for bold, extravagant fashion throughout her lifetime.
Queen Margrethe is no different. Her love for eccentric fashion is well-documented by publications like Vogue, which named her an “unsung style heroine” in 2020.
Danish designer Julie Brøgger told the publication that the queen “doesn’t care what anybody thinks.”
“She has this dramatic vision of how you can affect the public’s perception of you through your clothes,” Brøgger added.
Queen Elizabeth died knowing the throne will continue with her descendants. Queen Margrethe also has plenty of family members to secure Denmark’s royal legacy.
During her 70-year-reign, Queen Elizabeth not only became a grandmother, but a great-grandmother. Upon her death, she was survived by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren – one of whom, Prince George, is now second in line to the throne.
Throughout her own tenure as the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe has also secured the future of the monarchy, having two children and eight grandchildren. Her son, Crown Prince Frederik, is set to inherit the throne after she dies, according to Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. His son Christian, 16, is second in line.