Details Revealed About Queen Margrethe's Health Condition

When asked to name a long-reigning European queen, most Americans would have only one answer: The late Queen Elizabeth II. However, there is another formidable female monarch still nobly serving her country. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has been on the throne since 1972, following the death of her father, King Frederik IX. Although both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands were already reigning at the time Margrethe ascended, she is the only surviving European queen and currently the longest-serving European monarch as of 2023, per Royal Central

But a long life and career inevitably bring heartaches. In September 2022, the queen mourned the loss of her British counterpart along with the rest of the world and was among the many dignitaries who flew to London to attend the grand state funeral. Although Margrethe was in the midst of celebrating her own 50th anniversary as Danish queen, she shifted the dates of some of the planned events so as not to pull focus. Sadly, Margrethe also tested positive for COVID-19 the day after Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest, according to USA Today

Just a few weeks later, Margrethe unexpectedly found herself at another funeral, this one for someone within her own family. King Constantine II of Greece, who was married to Margrethe's younger sister Anne-Marie, died on January 10 at the age of 82 (via the Associated Press). Sadly, a short while afterward, worrying news emerged about the health of the queen herself. 

Her Majesty is undergoing major back surgery

Queen Margrethe, who will turn 83 in April, is just as active and involved in her country's affairs as the late Queen Elizabeth. But, much like her British counterpart, the Danish ruler has been forced to slow down. Royal Central reports that Margrethe had to cancel several events, as well as a vacation, because of ill health. And, on February 8, the reason behind her altered schedule was announced. In an official statement, Margrethe's press office confirmed that she will be incapacitated for a short while. 

"For quite some time, Her Majesty has been affected by problems with her back, and the situation has worsened recently," the release explained. "After consultation with Rigshospitalet's specialists, the queen has decided to undergo extensive surgery. The operation is planned for Wednesday, 22 February at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, where the queen will thus also be hospitalized afterwards. Consequently, a longer sequence of physical rehabilitation is expected. This means that Her Majesty's official program in the near future will be postponed, canceled, or handled by other members of the royal family."

Margrethe is just as stalwart as her fellow European royals, though. That very same day, she issued a public statement of sympathy to the citizens affected by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which concluded: "I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and wishes for a fast recovery to those injured. I extend my most sincere condolences and sympathy to those afflicted," (via Hello! magazine). 

Queen Margrethe has shocked her family in recent months

It has yet to be seen how willing the queen of Denmark's family will be to step in for her during Her Majesty's convalescence for back surgery. In October 2022, Queen Margrethe made the shocking decision to strip the royal titles from her four youngest grandchildren, the sons and daughter of her younger son, Prince Joachim. No longer princes and princesses, Nikolai, Felix, Henrik, and Athena are now formally known as counts and countesses of Monpezat. Joachim was none too pleased, saying his children had been "mistreated," but the queen stood firm in her decision. 

Days later, Margrethe issued an apology of sorts, explaining she'd been looking to "future-proof" the Danish monarchy for quite some time. "As a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected," she said (via The New York Times). "That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry." The queen notably did not restore her grandchildren's titles, however. 

It's generally presumed that both Joachim, his older brother, Crown Prince Fredrik, and their wives will take Margrethe's place at official events until she is appropriately mobile again, as will her sister, Princess Benedikte. Don't expect this to be a permanent change, though. The queen of Denmark is not one to let anything keep her down for long. Per Barron's, she once joked, "I'll stay on the throne until I fall down from it."