I Love the British Royals, but There’s Some Seriously Spicy Stuff Happening in Another Kingdom

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If you’ve always wanted to know more about King Charles’ enlarged prostate or Kate Middleton’s abdominal health, this year is off to an exceptional start. But for the rest of us, it’s been a notably un-scintillating time to keep up with the British royal family. The fleeting delight of encountering the Britishism “in hospital” repeatedly can only take us so far. Thank goodness The Crown is over and won’t have to contend with such paltry material.

Maybe it’s time to change the channel. Ever since New Year’s Eve, when Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II announced her plan to abdicate her position, setting in motion her son Frederik’s speedy ascent to the throne, I’ve been wondering if the Danish royal family is where it’s at. To be honest, this also probably has something to do with the fact that I visited Denmark for the first time a couple months ago. I even went inside the church where Margrethe is going to be entombed eventually. They already have the specific room picked out and everything. I guess when you visit a living person’s tomb, you can’t help but take an interest in how they’re filling the time between now and when they, er, take up residence there.

To catch you up, Margrethe abdicated on New Year’s Day, and it came as a surprise, because it was “the first time a Danish monarch has stepped down voluntarily in nearly 900 years,” according to the Associated Press. Now we’re talking! As for why, she pointed to health issues, but ceding the throne to the next generation is also apparently a growing trend among European royals, from the Netherlands to Spain. There has additionally been speculation that Margrethe’s decision will spark a movement among her fellow Scandinavians in Sweden and Norway.

Margrethe was and is known for her quirks and passions: chain-smoking (even though she gave it up after a surgery last year), art and design, eschewing the internet and cellphones … and she once translated Simone de Beauvoir! Otherwise, many people compared her to the Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth, because both had lengthy reigns and were paragons of nonpolitical unity. If you’re just getting up to speed on the Danish royal family, as I am, there do seem to be a fair number of analogues to the British throne: Margrethe’s son is Denmark’s Charles (his father/Margrethe’s husband died in 2018), and Denmark even has a Kate Middleton (a commoner—from Australia!—who became a princess, and now queen), though she’s married to its Charles equivalent rather than its William.

With Frederik now the sovereign, the family is generating more headlines in English-speaking publications than ever: The king went on his first foreign trip as a monarch and his son Crown Prince Christian is babysitting the country while he’s gone! Too many people are trying to visit Princess Isabella’s school! Queen Mary went to a handball tournament! Maybe some of these are a little tedious … OK, OK, here’s the good stuff: When King Frederik and Queen Mary kissed on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace after he was proclaimed king, the two were presenting a “united front” “amid affair rumors,” per People. In November, the then-prince prompted speculation of a romance after being photographed with a Mexican-born socialite, and is it possible the queen’s abdication was a way to get them back together? Finally, some intrigue!

And following the Danes will be a good entryway into other countries’ royals, since all these people know each other. Crossover episodes! I hope we haven’t seen the last of Princess Maria Chiara of Bourbon Two Sicilies, who was rumored to be dating Prince Christian last year, because her name/title is simply too good. It would be great to get an update on that Norwegian princess who relinquished her duties to marry a shaman. And it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Danish royals to mix with the crop top–loving billionaire king of Thailand, because he apparently lives in Germany? Why not get the disgraced former king of Spain in the rotation, too?

To be clear, I’m not looking to fully replace the British royals, and I’m not going to stop following them completely—I think this is more akin to deciding to pick up another Real Housewives iteration, one with a clean slate, relatively uncheckered with racism and crimes. I’ll still keep up with the flagship franchise; the British royal family is maybe like Real Housewives of New York in this metaphor—before the reboot, let’s say, since this is already getting too complicated. It’s just that I think I also have room in my heart for some new blood. Some new blue bloods, even. To further extend this, I guess visiting Margrethe’s tomb was kind of like eating at Sur before I ever watched Vanderpump Rules, which is also something I did. (It may have been Pump.)

Please understand that I’m also not saying I stan the Danish royal family now. There will be no stanning of monarchy. However, if I were to stan a monarchy, I could definitely do worse than the Danes. First of all, the Danish monarchy is actually popular among the Danish people—the AP reported that 70 percent of the country supported the monarchy in recent polls. The Danish family is allotted much less money than its British counterparts: The Danes receive about $13 million in public funding a year, compared to the Brits’ $109 million. And where Charles’ coronation cost an estimated $200 million and took months to plan, the Danish executed Frederik’s elevation to king in two weeks with much less fuss—there was a ceremony, but no crowns or scepters. Even Greenland, a former Danish colony that currently has a strained relationship with Denmark, really likes the royals?

There are also more specific reasons to feel aghast about the British royal family: Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein and accusations of predation, Charles’ and Kate’s and the institution’s more generally alleged racism, Harry and Meghan overload. I’m not saying the Danes don’t have skeletons like this in their closet, but if they do, I haven’t gotten to them yet. They are, for now, a royal family you can feel less bad about being fascinated by. It’s exciting, having an entire new dynasty, with all its attendant lore and plotlines, to learn about. And when the British royals get interesting again, I’ll be right here, ready to tune in.