The queen spoke with Der Spiegel ahead of her weekend trip to attend the reopening of the refurbished Castle Church in Wittenberg, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church and started the protestant reformation.
Queen Margrethe was asked about the recent widely-praised speech by King Harald of Norway in which the Norwegian monarch talked about the changing face of his country.
“Norwegians come from the north of the country, from the middle, from the south and all the other regions. Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria,” King Harald said. “Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing,” he added.
Queen Margrethe was asked if she looked at Denmark the same way. “I would not say we are a multicultural country, but more people live here now who have different roots, backgrounds and religions, more than 30 years ago,” she told Der Spiegel.
“This also applies to religions. Under the constitution, as the Danish queen I am bound to the Lutheran faith, but that does not exclude people of other faiths. On the contrary, I believe that the fact that I am religious brings me closer to anyone with a different faith. Besides, I represent all people who are citizens of the Danish nation,” she continued.
She went on to further discuss religion, the reformation, her plans to remain upon the throne and even her smoking habit with Der Spiegel. The full interview can be read here in English.
Who is a Dane?
The queen’s comments on whether or not Denmark is a multicultural country come amidst an intense national debate about what makes somebody a Dane.
The issue was kicked into high gear when Martin Henriksen of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party refused to say whether an 18-year-old man participating in a political talk show – who was born in Denmark, went to state schools and speaks fluent Danish – is “a Dane”.
Henriksen said he couldn’t say whether Jens Philip Yazsani, whose mother is Danish and father is Iranian, is a Dane because he “[doesn’t] know him”.
“You can’t say that if you bring the entire world to Denmark and they then have some children in Denmark that the children are then Danish. That is simply a trivialization of the debate and an insult to those generations who built up this country,” Henriksen said to audible groans on DR’s ‘Debatten’ programme.
The much-discussed comments were followed by endless posts on social media on what makes one Danish.
Yazsani said it was the first time in his life that someone had questioned his Danishness.
Afterwards, he said it should be quite simple to determine who is Danish. “If you live here and feel Danish, then you are obviously Danish. I think in reality that is the only criteria. That you are Danish in spirit,” he told TV2.