In particular, it’s said Queen Margrethe has been quietly warning Mary, 49, that Frederik, 52, may well follow in his father’s footsteps and become a far less appealing proposition as he gets older.
And she would have reason for concern – the late Prince Henrik, Margrethe’s husband for 50 years until his death in 2018, was seen as a troublemaker, unhappy with his status and considered “tiresome” by many Danes, often leaving Margrethe alone to attend royal appointments without him.
Indeed, according to royal sources in Denmark, a once-loyal Prince Henrik became less and less supportive of his wife as he aged, choosing to party without her and their family, and even moving away from their palace to live alone for long stretches.
Known to enjoy life on the Danish royal yacht HDMY Dannebrog, Henrik often stayed onboard, where he loved to drink wine and enjoy food with friends – the Queen turning a blind eye to his antics.
He also would often leave Denmark for long periods, heading back to his vineyard in his native France, where he felt more at home.
In 2002, he made headlines around the world when he fled to his chateau to “reflect on life”, complaining that he didn’t get enough respect in Denmark. He was irked at being overlooked when it came to representing the queen at a New Year’s ceremony – that honour being handed instead to Crown Prince Frederik, his son.
Henrik complained bitterly that he felt “pushed aside, degraded and humiliated”, and “disappointed all the time and walked over in such a way that my self-respect is destroyed”.
Then, in 2015 Prince Henrik was seen in one of the most popular squares in Venice, only a few days after he had claimed he couldn’t attend Queen Margrethe II’s 75th birthday due to an illness.
While their circumstances are certainly different – Frederik is the male heir to the throne, for example, and has the respect and responsibility that goes along with that – Mary and her husband have been weathering split rumours regularly over recent years. These suggestions come after many whispers about Fred’s former life as a “playboy prince”, and the notion that he may feel unable to fully settle down, even as his time to take the crown draws near.
For Margrethe, these latest rumours are ringing alarm bells as they’re based on reports the pair are “spending nights apart”. In fact, Margrethe’s said to be concerned that history is repeating itself – an “invisible” husband the cause of much embarrassment to her during her reign.
Since Mary was made an official regent back in 2019, meaning she could act on behalf of the Queen, who’s nearly 81, she and Fred have regularly slept alone, with royal duties and family care getting in the way of a more traditional marriage.
“It doesn’t bode well for Mary, given there have been a lot of rumours in Denmark that they’re spending nights apart,” a royal source reportedly said. “The word going around is that he has some kind of bachelor pad close by that he runs off to when things are getting unbearable between them.”
Mary even tellingly told a Danish crowd on Frederik’s 50th birthday, “We have become so close by giving each other space,” in reference to the way the couple were forced to do their own thing at times. “[You] have supported me in finding a foothold and my way in the world that was yours, and is now ours.”
In January 2020 the family went one step further, announcing that they’d be spending much of the year apart. They’d be splitting their time between Denmark and Switzerland, where the four royal children would be attending school for a few months. And it was Mary who was to accompany Christian, 15, Isabella, 13, and twins Vincent and Josephine, 10, while Fred would stay at home.
At the 11th hour, however, the plan was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – something Margrethe was no doubt relieved about.
While Mary’s decision to open up about her relationship with Frederik for his birthday was unusual for the couple, Prince Henrik didn’t hesitate to discuss his own marriage issues with the media.
“My wife does not give me the respect a normal wife must give her spouse,” he once said to Danish celebrity magazine Se og Hor, aggrieved about his standing in the family.
“My wife has decided that she wants to be Queen, and I’m very happy about that. But as a human being she needs to know that if a man and wife are married, they are equal,” Henrik also said.
While he acknowledged that he still loved his wife, he said he was not happy about the expectation he would be laid to rest in Roskilde Cathedral where Danish royals have been buried since 1535. He said, “It is her that is making a fool of me. I didn’t marry the Queen to be buried at Roskilde.”
Frederik himself spoke out about his father’s decision at the time: “I only have to say that I’m really sorry for my father’s decision in a lot of areas. More cannot be said about this case at present.”
Prince Henrik retired from official duties in the final years of his life and renounced his title of prince consort. Despite still being married to the queen and officially living together, he was rarely seen in public, spending the majority of his time at his private vineyard in France, well away from his wife and children.
In 2017 it was revealed he was suffering from dementia, which explained some of his erratic behaviour. Henrik then died, at home, in February 2018, his wife and sons by his side, and – as per his wishes – was cremated instead of being buried in the family tomb.
Now, as she prepares to hand over the throne to her son, Margrethe is said to be concerned. As a wife who has felt the keen loss of a man by her side in times of crisis, she is said to be desperately hoping that Mary and Fred can work things out, together.
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