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“Some years stand out clearly in our minds because we associate them with specific events.”
These words were said by the Queen in her New Year’s address yesterday.
Today – the first of January – we already know what event we will associate with the new year.
In 2024, Queen Margrethe is stepping down. Denmark will welcome a new regent. King Frederik X.
For most of us New Year’s Eve always begins with the Queen’s New Year’s Address. Yesterday, it was as if time stood still.
Perhaps there were some who thought: Did I hear that right? Did the Queen really say that? Perhaps some of you were downright shocked.
Here, the following day; a sombre feeling. As when a person who is very important to us travels off.
Queen Margrethe has sat on the throne longer than any other monarch in all of Danish history.
The Queen has performed her duty with a diligence, a wealth of talents, and a joy in her work like no other.
Tonight, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Her Majesty.
Dear Queen Margrethe.
What you have accomplished over nearly 52 years is an unparalleled achievement. Your importance cannot be overstated.
You have been our anchor in stormy times. Our conscience when it comes to the important matters in life. Our companion in the decades where the Denmark of the future emerged.
In matters close to our hearts and in those of great difficulty, you have provided a common frame of reference.
* * *
Queen Margrethe’s reign is the history of modern Denmark. Most of us have never known another monarch.
The Queen is our life witness.
On a rainy January day in 1972, the young heir was proclaimed Queen from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace.
It was the time that Denmark became a member of the EC, as it was then called.
Abortion was legalised. And it was still legal to drive without a seat belt. Gender roles were in flux. Welfare was expanded.
It was a time of sweeping change.
In 2024, the Queen leaves us a country that is richer.
A society where more people have good opportunities. And where each of us is freer to live the life we want.
But, once again, a time that is marked by upheaval and division. The world is changing. And so, too, is Denmark.
This is precisely why we need that which brings us together.
For generations, the Queen has been our rallying point. A fixed point of reference when everything else was in movement. A part of what we come from. And who we are.
The Queen has managed to speak to us as one people. Both to new and old Danes. Both to young and to older people.
And to the whole kingdom – Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
Through great changes, the Queen has held firm to the art, the culture, the virtues, the ancient wisdom. And an international outlook.
Protecting tradition. Our traditions. And, at the same time, being a modern head of state of a modern country – it is a balancing act that commands both devotion and respect.
The Queen continues this very innovation with the decision to step down and make room for a new generation.
Now we begin a new chapter for Denmark.
We will miss Queen Margrethe, whom we hold so dear.
But the fact that the Royal House lives on as an institution is very much because of Margrethe the person.
The Danish monarchy is among the oldest in the world. The history of the
Royal House is more than 1,000 years long.
In an unbroken line of succession, new regents have taken over from the old.
The path has been trodden through history. And each generation must find its way forward. We have a common trust that the Crown Prince will do just that.
The Queen said it in her own way: “I have a son who I am very fond of.”
I can add that the rest of us are as well. Because we know our soon-to-be king. The oldest have seen the Crown Prince grow up.
Those of a similar age have grown up together with the Crown Prince. They have studied, done military service, attended concerts, played sports and started families at the same time.
And for the youngest Danes, Crown Prince Frederik has always been there.
A man with an extraordinary presence. And with a talented, inspiring and deeply revered wife by his side.
Both the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess have already shown us who they are – and what they will do for us.
Most recently, we followed Prince Christian’s 18th birthday. Many were undoubtedly impressed by the young man’s composure. At least I was.
In the royal family, they help the next generation along its way, step by step. This requires wisdom. And it testifies to tremendous strength of character.
King Frederik IX said to his daughter Margrethe: “You have to remember that people wish you well.”
Let us promise one another that the people’s devotion given to the Queen will also support the new royal couple and their family.
Although we are sombre right now, the future is hopeful.
I am certain that the Crown Prince will be a good and strong King for Denmark and the entire Kingdom.
* * *
My New Year’s Address tonight turned out to be completely different than I had originally expected. I was going to talk about the Government’s upcoming Senior Reform.
A reform, which of course is first and foremost about care. But also, much more self-determination for our seniors and those who are very old.
Where those of you who are advanced in years will have much greater freedom to shape your daily life and the help you receive. And where the care workers must be familiar faces.
On the whole, I was going to talk about the up-close and personal welfare. About our healthcare system. We will have to talk about all of this later.
But allow me to highlight one proposal that is very much at the top of my mind.
Forty years ago, the first Danish test tube baby was born. A small piece of Danish history. Weighing 3,382 grams.
Today, one in every eight children in Denmark is born after fertility treatment.
Involuntary childlessness affects far too many. If not ourselves personally, then somebody we know.
There are still taboos that we must break down. Because it is beautiful that so many people dream of creating new life.
Even when they have to undergo extremely demanding treatments – and there is uncertainty, and there is waiting time.
To those of you out there who are waiting for a child. To all you future mothers and fathers. Families in all the colours of the rainbow. Who carry with them a “homeless” love.
You will now get more help. Up to twice as many treatment attempts. This change will take force already this year.
But tonight, the Government presents yet another proposal.
We want to also introduce free treatment for child number two, so that it hopefully leads to a little brother or little sister.
And so that even more of you can create the family you dream of.
* * *
The world is different now than on that January day in 1972 when a young heir to the throne, Margrethe, was proclaimed Queen of Denmark.
But, unfortunately, some crises have been constant. I am giving my New Year’s Address tonight from Marienborg.
It is here in this residence that prime ministers through the years have welcomed international guests. The first such guest to spend the night here at Marienborg was Israel’s first prime minister, Ben-Gurion.
That was back in 1962.
Much has changed since then.
But some people’s hatred of Israel. And the poor living conditions of the Palestinians. Both are unfortunately intact.
In recent months, new gruesome images have etched themselves into our collective mind:
Young Israelis enjoying a party, without a care in the desert. And the next moment, they must flee for their lives.
Whole families lying murdered in the bedroom. In one of the most brutal terrorist attacks in recent times.
War in Gaza. Children’s lives ending almost before they have begun. A humanitarian disaster. A lack of food, medicine and water.
The war in the Middle East is casting long shadows. Most recently with attacks on ships in the Red Sea. And the war is creating division. Also here in Denmark.
The whole world depends on peace in the Middle East. It has never been achieved. But it must now.
Can we share this vision?
That Jews have the right to live in peace, security and freedom. In Israel. And wherever they may be and live. And, of course, also here in Denmark.
And that Palestinians have the same right. That they also have a right to their own country. Two states that exist side by side. This may seem impossible right now.
But I believe that it is the only way forward.
It requires that the Palestinians distance themselves from Hamas. From anti-Semitism. That they recognise Israel. Seek peace.
And it requires that the Israelis stop the illegal settlements. That it is not the most extreme who are allowed to define what Israel is.
Israel has the right to defend itself. But they must also seek peace.
The Allies ended World War Two. NATO stopped the war in the Balkans.
I believe that the international community must pave the way for peace in the Middle East. From Jerusalem to Ramallah.
* * *
For almost two years, there has been war in Europe.
When President Zelenskyy landed in Southern Jutland this past summer, all of Denmark followed along.
We are one of the populations in the world that has been most loyal to the Ukrainians. And we are also one of the countries that has helped most.
We can be proud of this. Now we must stand firm.
A Europe without the will and the ability to defend itself. What is it really worth?
Ukraine lacks ammunition. Europe has not delivered what is needed. This is not good enough.
We will push for more European production. It is urgent. And the Danish F-16 jets need to be ready soon.
The war in Ukraine is also a battle for Europe as we know it. Rarely has there been more at stake.
Enlargement with new member states. And the next big steps in the fight against the climate crisis. The green transition is our charter of freedom and the only hope for our planet.
I do not think that the unrest and conflicts are temporary.
We are at the start of a new era. And no matter what happens – including after the presidential election in the United States in November:
Europe must be able to do more. We must want more.
* * *
Let us enter the new year with a belief that we humans ourselves shape our destiny. And that in bleak times, we can make tomorrow brighter.
Let us “step closer to each other. Not distance ourselves from each other.”
These words were said by our wise Queen Margrethe in her last New Year’s Address.
She gave a total of 52 New Year’s Addresses in all. When you line them up in a row, they tell our common history.
I was not born a royalist.
I became a royalist because of our Queen.
There is a need to be united as a people and as a country.
We can truly only handle the future if we know what we ourselves are made of. Why our little country is so different. So strong.
The unbroken chain through 1,000 years is the story of us Danes.
A people who have been blessed with a shrewd and knowledgeable head of state for longer than my lifetime.
To our Queen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And Happy New Year!