Queen Margrethe II will step down from the throne after 52 years (Credit: Danish Royal House/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Facebook)

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II announced her intention to leave the throne in her annual New Year's Eve speech on December 31, 2023. The popular monarch attributed her surprising decision to ill health. She will formally step down on January 14, 2024, and be succeeded by her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik.

Queen Margrethe II is Europe's longest-sitting monarch and Denmark's first female monarch since Margrethe I ruled the Scandinavian kingdoms (1375–1412). She is also the world's only reigning queen. The 83-year-old previously shared the title with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away in September 2022.

"I have decided that now is the right time. On January 14, 2024, 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father, I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I leave the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik," the monarch stated.

Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Princess Mary Donaldson (Credit: Danish Royal House/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Facebook)

The beloved 6-foot-tall (1.82-meter-tall) monarch is well-known for her love of art and fashion. She has been the set and costume designer for several Danish films, theater, and television shows. The queen is also passionate about archeology and has participated in several excavations in Italy, Egypt, Denmark, and South America.

The 55-year-old Crown Prince Frederik will ascend to the throne on January 14. However, there will be no formal coronation ceremony like the one held for Britain's King Charles in May 2023. Instead, Denmark's prime minister will follow the age-old tradition of proclaiming him the new king on the balcony of the Danish palace.

The incoming monarch is passionate about protecting the environment. He has pledged to "guide the ship" of Denmark into the future. He and his wife, Princess Mary Donaldson, are believed to represent modern values. They try to live normal lives and have even enrolled their four children in public schools.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, CNN.com, BBC.com, theguardian.com