Prince Henrik of Denmark

For more than 50 years, His Royal Highness Prince Henrik worked for Denmark and Danish interests. Yesterday, 13 February 2018 , The Prince passed away after a long life, which began on a summer day in France and ended in Denmark at Fredensborg Palace, where The Prince was surrounded by his immediate family.

Photo: Torben Eskerod ©

In a suburb of Bordeaux in the town Talence, Henri Marie Jean André greve de Laborde de Monpezat was born on 11 June 1934. The future Prince of Denmark was born in his grandmother’s house but moved shortly thereafter to French Indochina, the present-day Vietnam, where his father attended to the family interests in the industrial enterprises which The Prince’s grandfather had established at the turn of the century. In 1939, the family returned to the family home le Cayrou in Cahors. Here, Prince Henrik received education at home until 1947, after which Prince Henrik attended Jesuit boarding school in Bordeaux. 

At age 14, Prince Henrik continued his education at Cahors Gymnasium and was there until he, at 16, returned to Hanoi, where he graduated from Hanoi’s French Gymnasium in 1952. During the period 1952-1957, Prince Henrik studied law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris, and at École Nationale des Langues Orientales during the same period, Prince Henrik studied the Chinese and Vietnamese languages. In 1957, Prince Henrik studied oriental languages in Hong Kong, and afterwards, in 1958, he had a study stay in Saigon.

The road to Denmark
After the study stay ended, Prince Henrik performed his military service in Algeria from 1959 until 1962 during the Algerian War. At that time, the North African country was a French colony.

In 1962, Prince Henrik worked in the Asia section of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from 1963 to 1967, Prince Henrik served as the embassy secretary at France’s embassy in London. It was at this time, a spring evening in 1965, that Prince Henrik met the then-Danish Successor to the Throne, Princess Margrethe, at a dinner party at the home of mutual friends in London. A year passed before they met again. This time it was at a wedding in Scotland in the spring of 1966, where the French diplomat and Princess Margrethe got to know each other better. In the airplane on the way home from Scotland, they got to sit beside each other, and in the following period they met up in London. About the meetings, Prince Henrik recounted in his autobiography “Skæbne Forpligter”, that I went so far as to let her understand that I was in love with her.  She had already understood that. So I declared without any evasions that I loved her. That declaration she liked.” In October 1966, the couple became engaged.

Prince, husband and father
​On 10 June 1967, Princess Margrethe was married to Henri Marie Jean André greve de Laborde de Monpezat, who after the wedding was addressed by the title of His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark. The wedding ceremony took place in Holmens Kirke, and the wedding celebration was held at Fredensborg Palace. The following year, on 26 May 1968, the couple became the parents of His Royal Highness Prince Frederik, and approximately 12 months later, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim was born.

Five years later, in January 1972, King Frederik IX died, and with that the Successor to the Throne Couple became the Royal Couple when Princess Margrethe followed after her father and became Queen. Through the years, Prince Henrik worked together with The Queen for Denmark and Danish interests and headed up more than 100 inbound and outward-bound state visits in Denmark and many parts of the world.

During his lifetime, The Prince attended to a large number of patronages, honorary memberships, presidential posts, chairmanships and board appointments. Among these, his duties as patron of the Danish Red Cross and president of WWF and Europa Nostra can be mentioned. Through the years, Prince Henrik participated in working meetings and travelled to many parts of the world in behalf of these organizations.

The Queen and Prince Henrik have resided at Amalienborg, Fredensborg Palace, Marselisborg Palace and Gråsten Palace. In 1974, The Queen and The Prince bought Château de Cayx, which is located in the Cahors district in France, where The Prince produced and sold wine for more than 40 years. 

Leisure time and the artistic work
Throughout his whole life, Prince Henrik actively occupied himself with a number of artistic forms of expression, both as a poet and sculptor. Likewise, The Prince's great interest in cuisine was known by many.

Several of Prince Henrik’s poetry collections and cookbooks were published, just as The Prince together with The Queen translated Simone de Beauvoir’s “Alle mennesker er dødelige” in  1981 under the pseudonym H.M. Vejerbjerg.

Prince Henrik also asserted himself as a sportsman;  he was a skillful horseman, hunter and able tennis player, just as sailing meant a lot to The Prince.

In addition, several of The Prince’s sculptures have been put up around Denmark – among other places in the Palace Park at Marselisborg Palace, where Prince Henrik is represented with sculptures west of the palace building. When The Queen and Prince Henrik celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in June 2017, in the private part of the garden at Fredensborg Palace there was an unveiling of sculpture “Miss Fredensborg”, which was the couple’s gift to each other. The sculpture was crafted by The Prince.