Prince Henrik of Denmark, who infamously refused to be buried next to his wife unless he was named King rather than Prince Consort, has died aged 83 and will, in accordance with his wishes, be cremated.
Flags were lowered to half mast and a month of national mourning was declared after Prince Henrik, who retired from public service in 2016, died on Tuesday. He had been hospitalised with a lung infection on January 28 and was diagnosed with dementia last year.
French-born Henrik married Queen Margrethe II in 1967 in Copenhagen and, as is traditional in European royal families, was given the title of Prince Consort. He changed his name from Henri to the Danish Henrik.
After Margrethe, who survives her husband, was crowned in 1972, he made his anger at never being called King Consort clear and even claimed being saddled with the title was gender discrimination.
“It makes me angry that I am subjected to discrimination,” he told the French newspaper Le Figaro. “Denmark, which is otherwise known as an avid defender of gender equality, is apparently willing to consider husbands as worth less than their wives.”
In August 2017, Prince Henrik said he would not be buried next to his wife in their custom-made tomb in Roskilde Cathedral, the traditional resting place of Danish royals, in protest.
“If she wants to bury me with her, she must make me a king consort,” the French-born Henrik told Se og Hør, a Scandinavian celebrity magazine. “Finished. I do not care”.
Henrik will be cremated and his ashes scattered in Danish waters and buried in the grounds of Fredensborg Castle, north of Copenhagen. A private funeral will be held next Tuesday at the Christiansborg Palace chapel in the capital.
“My wife has decided that she would like to be Queen, and I’m very pleased with that,” he said. “But as a person, she must know that if a man and a woman are married, then they are equal. My wife hasn’t shown me the respect an ordinary wife should show her spouse.”
He is survived by his wife and two children, Crown Prince Frederik, 49, who rushed back from the Winter Olympics to be by his father’s side, and Prince Joachim, 48.
His frustrated outbursts to the media, and his French accent meant he was mocked as arrogant by many Danes. In 2002, he retreated to his castle in France, complaining he did not get enough respect in Denmark.
“People are just used to considering Prince Henrik as . . . a little dog that follows behind and gets a sugar cube once in a while,” he said.
Known as a man fond of the finer things in life with a taste for good cooking, wine and poetry, Henrik, once named “Whiner of the Year” by a TV station, eventually won people round.
Escapades such as dressing as a panda, playing piano on a pop record and strolling through the commune of Christiania, where cannabis is legal, won him a cult status among young Danes.
“His Royal Highness Prince Henrik died on Tuesday, February 13, at 23.18 quietly at Fredensborg Palace,” the Danish Royal Family said. “The Prince was surrounded by Her Majesty the Queen and their two sons.”
Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, said the prince had “represented Denmark magnificently. His commitment was infectious, and his insight great.”