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Celebrating the Royal Transition: King Frederik X and the Church

Denmark has a new king: King Frederik X. Following Queen Margrethe II's decision to abdicate, her son Frederik assumed the throne, a moment marked on Sunday, January 14, when he was proclaimed king at Christiansborg Palace.

The royal couple on the balcony at Christiansborg Castle after the change of throne. Photo: Keld Navntoft, Kongehuset ©

The succession holds significance for The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD). Due to the special status the Constitution grants the ELCD, the monarch is formally its leader, being the supreme authority of the government overall. This is manifested, for instance, in the monarch's role in signing new laws from the government or in the release of a new hymn book. On Sunday, January 21, a celebratory church service will be held at Aarhus Cathedral to commemorate the change of the throne. It is King Frederik X who has personally requested it to take place.

King Frederik's motto is: "Connected, Committed, for the Kingdom of Denmark." The motto breaks with tradition as it does not explicitly mention God. For example, Queen Margrethe II's motto was "God's help, the people's love, Denmark's strength." Throughout her time as queen, she displayed great interest in the ELCD and in ecclesiastical and theological matters.

In a speech to the outgoing queen during the annual New Year's reception, the bishops recently expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the ELCD. They thanked her for her "faithful and edifying participation in worship and church life and for your clear voice in the interpretation of the gospel and Christianity – in terms of individual significance and our life together."

It is too early to determine the relationship between the new king and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark.

In connection with the change of the throne, there is a modification to the church prayer. From today, the church prayer for the King and the royal family has been altered to include prayers for King Frederik X, Queen Mary, Crown Prince Christian, Queen Margrethe, and the entire royal family when their names are mentioned in the church prayer. Since 1992, it has been optional for pastors to mention the names of royalty in the church prayer, and whether to include the royal family in the prayer at all. Pastors are also allowed to formulate their own wording in the church prayer.