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Europe’s longest-serving monarch, Danish Queen Margrethe II, will abdicate the throne this month, after serving as Denmark’s beloved monarch for more than five decades, the Guardian reported.

The queen made the surprise announcement during her New Year’s speech, saying she would step down on Jan. 14, the 52nd anniversary of her ascension to the throne after the death of her father King Frederik IX.

The throne will now go to her son, Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Australian-born Mary Donaldson.

In her speech, the queen cited back surgery in early 2023, saying that it made her reassess her position and wonder “if the time had not come to leave the responsibility to the next generation.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen thanked the queen for her service, adding that she had been of “undeniable importance” to Denmark and its two semi-independent territories, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

The monarch has been one of Denmark’s most popular figures, known for her down-to-earth nature, warmth and talents as a linguist and a designer.

During her time as a princess, Margrethe was a member of the Danish women’s air force unit and took part in judo courses and endurance tests in the snow. She also regularly visited Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are autonomous territories of Denmark, where she was met with cheering crowds.

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