Read the entire New Year’s speech of Queen Margrethe II translated into English here.
We have just celebrated Christmas, the lovely festival, with a Christmas tree, lit candles, and eager children. In the darkest time of the year, Christmas brings light. Now, the new year is upon us; tonight, we celebrate New Year’s Eve. Ahead of us lies a year that we approach with anticipation but also with concern, as significant events unfold worldwide.
Certain years stand out in our consciousness because we associate them with specific events.
The year 1943 is remembered for the rescue of Danish Jews. It has been 80 years since October.
What should we do when innocent people are under attack?
The Danish population demonstrated the answer back then. Ordinary citizens spontaneously helped their fellow human beings. They warned neighbors, hid colleagues, and brought families to safety in Sweden. For the majority of Danish Jews, escape from the Nazis’ genocide succeeded.
During the occupation of Denmark, my grandfather, King Christian X, expressed what was the prevailing sentiment: “Jews were and are respected citizens in Danish society.” When we know each other, we can empathize with each other’s fate. Compassion and assistance follow naturally.
The year we bid farewell to tonight – 2023 – will be remembered for the horrific terrorist attack on civilians in Israel. It is incomprehensible.
Equally gruesome is the war that followed. There are no winners, only losers. Women and children did not choose the war, but they pay the price. Innocent people are the first victims, not only in the Middle East far away but also in Denmark.
The war fuels the resurgence of anti-Semitism. It is unfortunate and shameful.
Tonight, I want to make an unequivocal call for everyone in Denmark to treat each other with respect.
We should come closer to each other, not drift apart. We should remember that we are all human beings. This applies to both Jews and Palestinians.
Both Jews and Palestinians in Denmark become frightened when the phone rings. Is there bad news about the family?
Ukrainian refugees know the same anxiety.
The year 2022 will always be associated with the assault on Ukraine. This year, the war continues with the same intensity and significant loss of life. Even though attention is currently focused on the Middle East, the Ukrainians’ struggle for freedom should not be forgotten.
Danish support is crucial for the Ukrainian people. This was evident when President Zelensky visited Denmark this summer. We can be proud of that.
My New Year’s greetings tonight go to all those celebrating New Year in the shadow of terror and war.
It is not only wars and conflicts that make the future uncertain.
The weather seems to be running wild in various directions. It appears overwhelming and frightening.
Around the world, people are affected in different ways. Most will recall that July here at home was cool and rainy. 2023 became the wettest year in Danish weather history. But for the entire planet, July and August were the two warmest months ever.
Last month, the UN released a new climate report. The seriousness is evident. The Earth’s climate is changing faster than previously thought.
We must confront climate change. The consequences are not just in the future; they are already here, and they are severe.
Most people in Denmark are fully aware of this, even though it has been challenging for some of us to fully grasp it.
Now, together, we must find the hope and the will to take action.
Earlier this month, there was a climate summit in Dubai. Crown Prince Frederik attended alongside Danish ministers.
Denmark is a wealthy country with an important international voice. This comes with responsibilities.
We also have many of the technical solutions needed. I am proud that Danish researchers and companies are contributing to creating a future where we take care of our planet and nature.
In the past year, there has been much talk about “artificial intelligence.” A new technology that could change our lives in ways we can hardly imagine. But how? What could the consequences be? Maybe it can improve our society, but can we control it?
Should we be excited or worried? I believe we should be thoughtful and vigilant.
The new technology is precisely “artificial.” It does not think on its own. It is fed with what humans have already created.
Artificial intelligence leaves us with a fundamental question: “What makes us humans something truly special?”
We humans have hope and curiosity. We have empathy and creativity. We have the ability to create and think for ourselves. That is what has brought us far. We must not forget that.
Technology and machines have long taken over much of the manual labor. Nevertheless, it does not mean that we humans sit idle.
I have noticed that many have rediscovered a hobby or handicraft. It probably began during the corona crisis, but then you could not stop – at least, that is true for me. You find peace when you work with a needle or have something else in your hands; this applies to all age groups.
For many of us, keeping our hands busy is a leisure activity. For others, it is a way of life – a profession.
This applies to those laying the bricks, pulling the cables, painting the walls in the houses where we live. Those who build the wind turbines for clean energy. Those who care for us when we are hospitalized or nurse us when we can no longer manage on our own.
All these functions require skill, knowledge, and education and deserve respect.
Craftsmanship done well is a joy to witness. To look at a well-built wall, to see a shiny and beautifully painted wall, to admire a piece of furniture where the wood has been treated with care and insight fills me with joy every time.
The year 2023 we will remember as the year we could celebrate my grandson Prince Christian turning 18. It was a significant and, I believe, delightful day for him. He presented himself in a way that made his entire family proud. He was surrounded by sweet, hopeful, and cheerful young people from across the realm, and he delivered a speech that commanded great respect. It made his grandmother proud.
Prince Christian spoke the truth. It wasn’t done so much when I was young. Today, the youth dare to show that they can also be uncertain. This openness is a strength that the rest of us must admire and learn from.
Everyone knows the little word “thank you.”
It is a lovely word, both to say and to hear. In that word lies the acknowledgment that a person does not stand alone. It is also the word we use precisely as a New Year’s greeting: Thank you for the old year!
Thank you for the warmth and hospitality I encounter everywhere in Denmark.
In the realm community, we are three countries and three peoples. We each have our identity, culture, and language. But we are connected by a shared history, and we are united as human beings.
Tonight, I wish a Happy New Year to everyone in Greenland and to everyone in the Faroe Islands. Often, my thoughts go north to the two countries and to the two peoples with gratitude for everything they have given me over the years.
My New Year’s greetings also go to the Danes in South Schleswig and to the many other Danes residing and working abroad.
At the turn of the year, I thank everyone in the Defense, the Police, and Emergency Services. You make an admirable and indispensable effort for our country.
A very special thank you from me tonight. Thanks for everything my family and I have received in warmth and affection over many, many years.
In two weeks, I will have been Denmark’s queen for 52 years. Such a long time does not pass without leaving a trace on anyone – not even me! Time wears, and the “ailments” become more numerous. One no longer overcomes the same things as once before.
In February this year, I underwent an extensive back operation. It went well, thanks to the skilled healthcare personnel who took care of me. The operation naturally gave rise to thoughts about the future – whether the time had come to pass the responsibility to the next generation.
I have decided that now is the right time. On January 14, 2024 – 52 years after I succeeded my beloved father – I will step down as the Queen of Denmark. I pass on the throne to my son Crown Prince Frederik.
Tonight, I want to foremost say thank you. Thank you for the overwhelming warmth and support that I have received throughout all these years. Thanks to the successive governments, with whom it has always been rewarding to work, and to the Parliament, which has always greeted me with trust.
My thanks go to the many, many people who, on special occasions as well as in everyday life, have surrounded me and my family with loving words and thoughts. They have made these years a string of pearls.
The support and assistance I have received over the years have been crucial for my ability to fulfill my task. It is my hope that the new royal couple will be met with the same trust and devotion that has been bestowed upon me.
They deserve it! Denmark deserves it!
So, I will conclude my last New Year’s speech with the words I usually use:
GOD PRESERVE DENMARK
GOD PRESERVE YOU ALL
Note: This translation of the speech is not an official translation.