Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Address 2023.
We have just celebrated Christmas, the wonderful festive days, with Christmas trees, lit candles, and children full of expectations. At the darkest time of the year, Christmas shines brightly. Now the new year is just around the corner, tonight we are celebrating New Year’s Eve. A year lies ahead of us which we shall meet with expectation but also with concern, for we see turbulence and upheaval in the world at large.
Some years stand out clearly in our minds because we associate them with specific events.
We remember the year 1943 for the Rescue of the Danish Jews. It was 80 years ago in October.
What are we to do when innocent people are attacked?
We must do what the Danish population did then. Ordinary citizens helped their fellow human beings quite spontaneously. They alerted their neighbour, hid a colleague, and brought families to safety in Sweden. The vast majority of Danish Jews succeeded in escaping from the Nazi genocide.
At the time when Denmark was occupied, my grandfather, Christian X, expressed the attitude of the people: “Jews were and are esteemed citizens of Danish society”. When we know each other, we are also able to empathise with each other’s fate. Compassion and helpfulness will then follow as a matter of course.
The year we are taking leave of tonight – 2023 – will be remembered for the horrible terrorist attack on civilians in Israel. It is incomprehensible.
Also the war in the wake of the attack is horrible. There are no winners, only losers. Women and children have not opted for the war themselves, but they are paying the price. Innocent people are the first victims. Not only in the Middle East far from here, but also in Denmark.
The war makes antisemitism spread again. It is tragic and shameful.
Tonight, I wish to make a clear and unequivocal call for all of us in Denmark to treat each other with respect.
We must approach each other more closely, not distance ourselves from each other. We must remember that we are all human beings. This applies to Jews as well as Palestinians.
Both Jews and Palestinians in Denmark get anxious when the phone rings. Is it bad news about the family?
The Ukrainian refugees experience the same fear.
The year 2022 will always be associated with the attack on Ukraine. This year, the war has continued with the same intensity and with huge losses of human life. Even though attention is directed at the Middle East right now, the Ukrainians’ fight for freedom must not be forgotten.
Danish support is of great importance to the Ukrainian people. This was clearly expressed when President Zelensky visited Denmark in summer. We can take pride in that.
My New Year greetings tonight go to all who celebrate New Year in the shadow of terrorism and war.
It is not only war and conflicts that make the future uncertain.
The weather seems to be acting up in various directions. It seems chaotic and it is frightening.
Throughout the world, people are affected in different ways. Most of us probably remember that July was chilly and rainy in Denmark. 2023 turned out to be the wettest year in Danish weather history. But for the world at large, July and August turned out to be the two hottest months ever.
Last month, the UN published a new climate report. The seriousness is obvious. The globe’s climate is changing faster than we thought.
We need to address climate change. The consequences are not only in the future. They are here already, and they are extreme.
Most people in Denmark are fully aware of this, even if it has been difficult for some of us to fully realise it.
Together we must now find the hope and determination to do something.
Earlier this month, the COP28 climate summit was held in Dubai. The Crown Prince and Danish government ministers participated in this.
Denmark is a rich country with an important international voice. That puts us under an obligation to act.
We have also some of the technical solutions that are needed. It makes me proud that Danish scientists and companies contribute to creating a future where we take care of our globe and nature.
In the past year, we have heard a great deal about “Artificial Intelligence”. A new technology that may change our lives in ways we can hardly imagine. But how? What will be the consequences? Perhaps it can improve our society, but will we be able to control it?
Are we to be enthusiastic or concerned? I think we need to be thoughtful and attentive.
After all, the new technology is indeed “artificial”. It does not think for itself. It is fed with what human beings have already created.
Artificial intelligence leaves us with an altogether fundamental question: “What is it that makes us human beings unique?”
We human beings have hope and are curious. We have empathy and are creative. We have the ability to create and to think for ourselves. That is what has brought us far. We must not forget that.
Technology and machines have long ago replaced much manual work. Nevertheless, it does not mean that we human beings sit on our hands.
I have noticed that many have started on a hobby or a piece of needlework again. It probably began during the corona crisis; but then we could not stop again – this applies at least to me. It gives us peace of mind, sitting there with a piece of needlework or working on something else with our hands; this goes for all age groups.
For many of us it is a spare-time activity to keep our hands occupied. For others, it is a life condition - a trade.
This applies to those who lay the bricks, draw the cables, and paint the walls in the houses where we live. It applies to those who build the wind turbines to provide us with clean energy. To those who take care of us when we are hospitalised or to those who nurse us when we cannot cope on our own any longer.
These are all functions that require skill, knowledge, and training and which deserve our utmost respect.
It is a pleasure to experience good craftsmanship. To look at a well-built wall, to see a smooth and beautifully painted wall, to admire a piece of furniture where the wood has been handled with care and insight, this fills me with joy every time.
We will remember the year 2023 as the year in which we could celebrate that my grandchild, Prince Christian, turned 18. It was a great day and, I believe, a wonderful day for him. He presented himself in a way that made all his family proud of him. He was surrounded by nice, excited, and happy young people from the entire kingdom, and he made a speech that commanded great respect. It made his grandmother proud.
Prince Christian said things as they were. It was not so common when I was young. Today, young people dare show that they can be insecure too. This openness is a strength which we others must admire, and from which we can learn.
Everybody knows the little word “thanks”.
It is a lovely word, both to say and to hear. In the word lies recognition of the fact that a human being is not alone. It is also the word, which we use as a New Year greeting: Thanks for the past year!
Thank you for the warmth and hospitality I meet with everywhere in Denmark.
The Kingdom of Denmark comprises three countries and three peoples. Each of us has our own identity and culture and each of us our own language. But we are united by a shared history, and we are united as human beings.
Tonight, I send my New Year wishes to everybody in Greenland and to everybody in the Faroe Islands. My thoughts often go north to the two countries and to the two peoples with a “thank you” for all that they have given me over the years.
My New Year greetings also go to the Danes in South Schleswig and to the many Danes who live and work abroad.
At the turn of the year, I wish to thank everybody in the defence, the police, and the emergency management services. You make an admirable and absolutely indispensable effort for our country.
Tonight, I would like to express a very special thank you. Thank you for the warmth and devotion which I and my family have received throughout many, many years.
In two weeks time I have been Queen of Denmark for 52 years. Such an amount will leave its mark on anybody – also on me! The time takes its toll, and the number of “ailments” increases. One cannot undertake as much as one managed in the past.
In February this year I underwent extensive back surgery. Everything went well, thanks to the competent health personnel, who took care of me. Inevitably, the operation gave cause to thoughts about the future – whether now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.
I have decided that now is the right time. On 14th January, 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I will hand over the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik.
Tonight, I first and foremost would like to express my thanks. Thank you for the overwhelming warmth and support which I have received during all these years. Thank you to the changing governments with whom the collaboration always has been rewarding, and thank you to The Parliament, who have always vested their confidence in me.
Thank you to the many, many people who on special occasions and in everyday life have embraced me and my family with kind words and thoughts, turning the years into a string of pearls.
The support and assistance which I have received throughout the years, have been crucial to the success of my task. It is my hope that the new King and Queen will be met with the same trust and devotion which have fallen to my lot.
They deserve it! Denmark deserves it!
I will conclude my new year’s address in my usual manner:
GOD BLESS DENMARK
GOD BLESS YOU ALL