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Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid, is the Queen of Denmark. She is also the supreme authority of the Church of Denmark and Commander-in-Chief of the Danish Defense Forces. A constitutional monarch, Margrethe takes no part in political decisions aside from ceremonial state functions, such as appointing the Prime Minister, and does not express political opinions.

Margrethe is a member of the House of Glücksburg, a house originally from Northern Germany. As the eldest child of King Frederick IX and Ingrid of Sweden, she succeeded her father upon his death on 14 January 1972. On her accession, Margrethe became the first female monarch of Denmark since Margaret I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375–1412 during the Kalmar Union. Having been on the Danish throne for 43 years, she is currently the longest-reigning of the three Scandinavian monarchs, as Sweden’s Carl XVI Gustaf has reigned since 1973 and Norway’s Harald V has reigned since 1991.

Margrethe was born in 1940, but did not become heir presumptive until 1953, when a constitutional amendment allowed women to inherit the throne (after it became clear that King Frederick was unlikely to have any male issue). In 1967, she married Henrik (born Henri de Laborde de Monpezat), with whom she has two sons: Crown Prince Frederik (born 1968) and Prince Joachim (born 1969).

Princess Margrethe was born 16 April 1940 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen as the first child of Crown Prince Frederick, later King Frederick IX and Crown Princess Ingrid, later Queen Ingrid. Her father was the eldest son of the then-reigning King Christian X, while her mother was the only daughter of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, later King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, and Crown Princess Margaret, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her birth took place just one week after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940.

She was named Margrethe after her late maternal grandmother, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, Alexandrine after her paternal grandmother, Queen Alexandrine, and Ingrid after her mother, Crown Princess Ingrid. Since her paternal grandfather was also the King of Iceland, and Margrethe until 1944 was an Icelandic princess, she was given an Icelandic name, Þórhildur (Thorhildur).

When Margrethe was four years old, in 1944, her first sister, Princess Benedikte, was born. Princess Benedikte later married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and lives some of the time in Germany. Her second sister Princess Anne Marie was born in 1946. Anne-Marie later married Constantine II of Greece and now lives in London.

On 20 April 1947, King Christian X died and Margrethe’s father ascended the throne as King Frederick IX.

Princess Margrethe married a French diplomat, Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, 10 June 1967, at the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen. Laborde de Monpezat received the style and title of “His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark” because of his new position as the spouse of the heir presumptive to the Danish throne.

Margrethe gave birth to her first child 26 May 1968. By tradition, the Danish King was alternately named either Frederick or Christian. She chose to maintain this by assuming the position of a Christian, and thus named her eldest son Frederik. A second child, named Joachim, was born 7 June 1969.

Shortly after King Frederick IX had delivered his New Year’s Address to the Nation at the 1971/72 turn of the year, he fell ill. At his death 14 days later, 14 January 1972, Margrethe succeeded to the throne, becoming the first female Danish sovereign under the new Act of Succession. She was proclaimed Queen from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace 15 January 1972, by Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag. Queen Margrethe II relinquished all the monarch’s former titles except the title to Denmark, hence her style By the Grace of God.