A Lutheran pastor who led a service at a church in London attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for her golden jubilee has hailed her as a “beacon” after she announced her surprise abdication.
Flemming Kloster Poulsen said she was a “perfect mix of royal and at the same time down to earth” when, in December 2022, she attended the Danish Church of St Katharine’s in Camden, north London, for a service to honour 50 years since her accession to the throne on January 14, 1972.
His words of praise come after the 83-year-old queen on Sunday announced during her New Year’s address that she would abdicate on January 14, paving the way for her son Crown Prince Frederik to accede to the throne.
She was said to be close to the late Queen and is a distant relative of the King.
Mr Poulsen, 66, who was pastor at St Katherine’s for seven years before stepping down in October, told the PA news agency: “Her parents, King Frederik (IX) and Queen Ingrid, they were guests of honour when the Danish Church was inaugurated in 1952 in London.
“So her relationship with the church started with her parents and ever since she’s visited the church on several occasions, and in 2020 she designed a chasuble, the garment a priest is wearing during service, designed by the queen and she herself embroidered parts of this chasuble. Yeah, that’s really wow.
“And it was sent to church during the pandemic and two years later when the pandemic was over and she was able to travel she visited the church, that was December 2022, and she attended a service and I, during the service, was wearing this chasuble designed by her.
“So that was, for me, a very special occasion because I was wearing a chasuble designed by the Danish queen and she was attending the service. It was a great thing.”
The queen created a red chasuble with a large cross-shaped embroidery in bright colours on the back that symbolises the Danish flag.
She also embroidered the Luther rose in the middle of the cross, a common symbol in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Mr Poulsen said that after the service they invited her to their kitchen in the vicarage adjacent to the church and she came and a “had a drink and a chat and … it was very, very nice”.
He added: “She was obviously the queen but at the same time it was kind of down to earth, she was visiting church, the priests and the vicarage and saying hello to people.
“I would say she was a perfect mix of royal, queen, and at the same down to earth. She said hello, we shook our hands and she asked ‘How are you getting on here at the Danish Church in London?’ and asking relevant questions, so that was really an experience.”
On her surprise abdication, Mr Poulsen, who now lives in Randers, Denmark, added: “I saw it on television when she announced she was retiring and surprise that’s one thing, and at the same time, really, really a feeling of gratefulness. She’s been a fantastic queen of Denmark and in many ways she’s been a beacon, I mean the way she had conducted herself, her service as queen, she’s been a beacon.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed the Queen was stepping down on Sunday, offering a “heartfelt thank you to Her Majesty the Queen for her lifelong dedication and tireless efforts for the Kingdom”.
In February 2022, the then Duchess of Cambridge was the outgoing Danish queen’s guest during a two-day visit to the northern European country.
Kate’s trip was in part to honour the historic ties Britain shares with Denmark and celebrate the countries’ joint jubilees that year – the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee of Queen Margrethe, both of which fell in 2022.
The late Queen was said to be close to Queen Margrethe and sent her a private message of condolence after her husband Prince Henrik of Denmark died in his sleep at the age of 83 in 2018.
In 2012, Queen Margrethe revealed how she had always “admired” her British counterpart and that she has helped influence herself as a queen after watching how dedicated she was to her nation.