Who is Crown Prince Frederik, Denmark’s soon-to-be king?

As a teenager, Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik felt uncomfortable being in the spotlight and wondered whether there was any way he could avoid becoming king.

But now, the 55-year-old will become King Frederik X when he finally takes over the crown on Sunday from his mother, Queen Margrethe II, who is breaking with centuries of Danish royal tradition and abdicating after a 52-year reign.

Margrethe stunned the nation when she announced during her traditional New Year’s Eve speech that she would step down, citing health reasons.

A royal palace spokeswoman told the Berlingske newspaper that the queen informed her sons about her decision only three days before the announcement.

Danish Crown Prince Frederik, second from left, meets with the Mondavi family in Oakville in 1989

An athlete, decorated military officer and rock music fan, Frederik has a more informal style than his mother, but is equally popular in the Nordic country.

The crown prince, whose full name is Frederik André Henrik Christian, was born on May 26, 1968, as the first child of Margrethe and her husband, Prince Henrik, who died in 2018. His younger brother, Prince Joachim, was born in 1969.

Shy and reserved as a child, Frederik felt uneasy about the idea of ascending the throne, and the intense attention and scrutiny that came with it. In a 1996 interview with Berlingske Tidende, the crown prince said that in his teens he sometimes wondered whether he could escape his fate.

“I thought it was too uncomfortable,” Frederik said. “You knew you were going to be so public, so known, so accessible to everyone and so depicted. I didn’t like that.”

Denmark’s Crown Prince Freserik takes part in a military drill as an aspirant to the Danish Navy’s elite Frogmen Corps in 1995

As an adult he grew more comfortable with his position as heir to the throne and prepared himself for it. Frederik, who in addition to Danish speaks English, French and German, graduated from Aarhus University with a master’s degree in political science.

He received military training in several branches of Denmark’s armed forces including as a frogman in an elite naval unit. Frederik got the nickname “Pingo” because of an episode when his wetsuit filled with water, leaving him to waddle like a penguin.

He learned about diplomacy during postings at the Danish Embassy in Paris and at Denmark’s United Nations mission in New York. Like Britain’s King Charles III, he has shown a special interest in climate change and other environmental issues.

At home in Denmark, Frederik is known for being informal and down-to-earth. While he attends official functions in medal-studded uniforms, he can occasionally be spotted blending in with the crowds riding a bicycle with his bodyguards in tow or high-fiving teenagers.

Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik walks on stage, during the opening of the United Nation’s new Climate Centre in 2022

A keen sportsman, Frederik has participated in six marathons, one Ironman triathlon and a dog-sled expedition in northern Greenland. For several years he was Denmark’s member of the International Olympic Committee.

Some Danes feel so comfortable around the crown prince they address him without his royal title.

Like many of his contemporaries in Europe’s royal houses, Frederik found his spouse outside the aristocracy. He met Australian-born Mary Donaldson, the daughter of Scottish immigrants, in a bar during the Sydney Olympics in 2000. They married four years later.

Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Danish Crown Princess Mary arrive to greet the diplomatic corps in occasion of the New Year at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark

The couple have four children: Prince Christian, 18; Princess Isabella, 16; and 13-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

Once Margrethe has abdicated, Christian will take over the title of crown prince and become first in line to succeed his father.

Mary will become queen of Denmark. Her unlikely journey from the island of Tasmania to become the world’s first Australian-born queen on the other side of the world has captivated Danes and Australians alike.

When Frederik turned 50, Mary praised her husband in a witty and romantic speech in fluent Danish.

“You have always pushed the boundaries, and you have insisted on shaping the world around you to fit the person and have not allowed the structures in that world to define you,” Mary said.

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