Read the Queen’s New Year’s Eve speech in full

Translated by Lena Hunter
January 2nd, 2024

The English translation of the Danish Queen’s 2023 New Year’s Eve speech, in which she stunned the nation by abdicating the throne on live TV.

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Kongehuset ©

We have just celebrated Christmas, the beautiful festivities, with a Christmas tree, lit candles and expectant children. In the darkest time of the year, Christmas brings light. Now, the new year is at the door, tonight we celebrate New Year’s Eve. Ahead of us lies a year that we meet with anticipation, but also with concern, because terrible things are happening in the world.

Some years stand out clearly in our consciousness because we associate them with certain events.

We remember the year 1943 for the rescue of the Danish Jews. It was 80 years ago in October.

What should we do when innocent people are attacked?

The Danish population knew that at the time. Ordinary citizens spontaneously helped their fellow man. Warned the neighbor, hid the colleague and brought families to safety in Sweden. For the vast majority of Danish Jews, the escape from the Nazi genocide was successful.

When Denmark was occupied, my grandfather Christian X expressed the attitude of the population: “Jews were and are respected citizens in Danish society.” When we know each other, we are also able to empathize with one another’s fates. Then compassion and helpfulness follow quite naturally.

The year we say goodbye to tonight – 2023 – will be remembered for the horrific terrorist attack on civilians in Israel. It is beyond comprehension.

Gruesome also is the war that followed. There are no winners here, only losers. Women and children did not choose the war themselves, but they pay the price. Innocent people are the first victims. Not only in the Middle East far from here, but also in Denmark.

The war is causing anti-Semitism to spread again. It is terrible and shameful.

Tonight I want to make an unequivocal call for all of us in Denmark to treat each other with respect.

We must step closer to each other, not distance ourselves from each other. We must remember that we are all human. This applies to both Jews and Palestinians.

Both Jews and Palestinians in Denmark get scared when the phone rings. Is there bad news about the family?

The Ukrainian refugees know the same anxiety.  

The year 2022 will always be linked to the attack on Ukraine. This year, the war has continued with the same force and with great loss of life. Although attention is currently focused on the Middle East, 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 Zelenskyj visited Denmark this summer. We can be proud of that.

My New Year’s greeting tonight goes to everyone who celebrates the New Year in the shadow of terror and war.

It is not only war and conflicts that make the future uncertain.

The weather seems to run amok in different directions. It seems unmanageable and it spreads fear.

Around the world, people are affected in different ways. Most people probably remember that July here at home was cool and rainy. 2023 was the wettest year in Danish weather history. But for the whole world, July and August were the two hottest months on record.

Last month, the UN issued a new climate report. The seriousness is clear. The planet’s climate is changing faster than previously thought.

We have to deal with climate change. The consequences are not only future. They are already here and they are fierce.

Most people in Denmark are completely aware of this, although it has been difficult for some of us to fully realize it.

Now we must together find the hope and the will to do something.

Earlier this month there was a climate summit in Dubai. The Crown Prince participated here together with Danish ministers.

Denmark is a rich country with an important international voice. That brings responsibility.

We also have several of the technical solutions needed. It makes me proud that Danish researchers and companies are helping to create a future where we take care of our planet and nature.

In the past year, there has been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence. A new technology that will be able to change our lives in ways we can hardly imagine. But how? What could be the consequences? Maybe it can improve our society, but will we be able to control it?

Should we be excited or worried? I think we need to be thoughtful and attentive.

The new technology is precisely “artificial”. It doesn’t think for itself. It is fed with what humans have already created.

Artificial intelligence leaves us with a very basic question: “What makes us humans so special?”

We humans have hope and curiosity. We have empathy and creativity. We have the ability to create and to think for ourselves. This is what has brought us far. We must not forget that.

Technology and machines have long since taken over much of the manual work. But still, this does not mean that we humans are sitting on our hands.

I have noticed that many have again found a hobby or a craft. You probably started during the corona crisis, but then you couldn’t stop – at least that applies to me. You feel at ease when you sit with a piece of clothing or have something else in your hands; it applies to all age groups.

For many of us, keeping our hands busy is a leisure activity. For others, it is a condition of life – a profession.

This applies to those who lay the bricks, run the cables, paint the walls in the houses where we live. Those who build the wind turbines so we get clean energy. Those who look after us when we are admitted to the hospital, or take care of us when we can no longer take care of ourselves.

These are all functions that require skill, knowledge and training, and which to that extent deserve respect.

Good craftsmanship is a pleasure to experience. To look at a well-built wall, to look at a blank and beautifully painted wall, to admire a piece of furniture where the wood has been treated with care and insight, it fills me with joy every time.

We will remember the year 2023 as the year when we could celebrate my grandson Prince Christian turning 18. It was a big and, I think, lovely day for him. He stood out in a way that made his whole family proud of him. He was surrounded by sweet, expectant and cheerful young people from all over the kingdom and he gave a speech that commanded great respect. It made his grandmother proud. 

Prince Christian said things as they were. They didn’t do that when I was young. Today, young people dare to show that they can also be insecure. That openness is a strength that the rest of us must admire and from which we can learn.

Everyone knows the little words “thank you”. 

They are lovely words (ed.), both to say and to hear. In them lies the realization that a person is not alone. It is also the word we use precisely as a New Year’s greeting: “Tak for det gamle år!”

Thank you for the cordiality and hospitality I encounter everywhere in Denmark.

In the Commonwealth, we are three countries and three peoples. We each have our own identity and culture and each our own language. But we are linked by a common history and we are connected as people.

Tonight I would like to wish everyone in Greenland and everyone in the Faroe Islands a happy New Year. Often my thoughts go north to the two countries and to the two people with a thank you for everything they have given me over the years.

My New Year greetings also go to the Danes in South Schleswig and to the many other Danes who live and work abroad.

At the turn of the year, I thank everyone in the Armed Forces, the Police and the emergency services. You are making an admirable and absolutely indispensable effort for our country.

A very special thank you must be heard from me tonight. Thank you for all the warmth and affection that I and my family have received over many, many years. 

In 14 days I will have been Queen of Denmark for 52 years. Such a long time does not pass without a trace for any human being – not even me! Time wears on, and the ills increase. You no longer cope with the same things as you once could. 

In February this year I underwent extensive back surgery. It went well, thanks to the skilled healthcare staff who took care of me. Of course, the operation also gave rise to thinking about the future – whether the time had come to leave the responsibility to the next generation. 

I have decided that now is the right time. On 14 January 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I leave the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik. 

Tonight, first of all, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the overwhelming warmth and support that I have received over the years. A thank you to the changing governments, with whom it has always been rewarding to work together, and to the Danish Parliament, which has always met me with confidence. 

My thanks must go to all the many, many people who, at special events, as well as in everyday life, have surrounded me and my family with loving words and thoughts. It has made these years a series of gems. 

The support and assistance that I have received over the years has been decisive for me being able to carry out my task. It is my hope that the new royal couple will be met with the same trust and affection that I have received.

They deserve it! Denmark deserves it!

So I will end my last New Year’s speech with the words I usually say:

God bless Denmark.

God bless you all.


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