Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has sparked strong reactions by questioning the man-made nature of climate change.
In an interview with the newspaper Politiken for her 80th birthday, Margrethe II spoke her mind on a number of issues, including her doubts about climate change.
“Well, people play a role in climate change, that's no doubt. But whether the change is directly man-made, I am not entirely convinced”, Margrethe II said.
The Queen of Denmark stressed that the climate has changed before and is constantly changing and cautioned against panicking.
“As a society we should not panic over climate change”, Margrethe II said. “Of course, it is a lot to be aware of. But panic is a very bad way to deal with problems. It is not working”.
The Queen's statement sparked reactions ranging from admiration to harsh criticism and polarised the Danish establishment into two opposing camps: those who believe she should have avoided the issue and those who enjoyed the interview.
The Socialist People's Party climate rapporteur, Signe Munk, called the Queen's statement “extremely unpleasant” and “unheard of”.
“She shouldn't have made such statements, because it is wrong. Fortunately, we have scientists in this country and around the world who can explain this”, Munk told Danish Radio.
According to Munk, Margrethe II has a special responsibility to Danes, which unfortunately she isn't living up to. Munk went so far as to describe the Queen's statement as a “massive punch in the stomach to all the children and young people who are deeply concerned about the climate crisis”. On Twitter, Munk described the Queen's message as "disgusting and strange".
Forstemmende og underligt budskab fra Dronning Margrete. Men vi har heldigvis videnskabsfolk som kan få fejet hendes tvivl af banen. Tiden er ikke til at tvivle på menneskers rolle i klimaforandringerne, men hvordan vi får det begrænset! #dkpol #dkgreen https://t.co/PYA9M7Ryya— Signe Munk (@signe_munk) April 11, 2020
Munk's sentiment was shared by other members of the centre-left red bloc.
“It's very frustrating that the Queen uses her birthday to spark new life into an old myth that casts doubt on whether climate change is directly man-made”, Red-Green Alliance climate rapporteur Mai Villadsen said.
At the other end of the political spectrum, the statement was met with joy.
The Danish People's Party climate spokesman, Morten Messerschmidt, welcomed the fact that Denmark has a monarch with an opinion of her own.
“I am proud and happy to have a queen who boldly and openly dares to talk to her people”, Messerschmidt said.
The Liberal Alliance also praised the queen.
“It's always nice when the queen speaks her mind and not from a script”, Liberal Alliance climate spokesman Alex Vanopslagh said. “We have a wise queen that we can be proud of, although I personally do not agree with everything Her Majesty says”, he added.
The New Right don't see the Queen's statements as contrary to climate research.
“She says what science says. That human-derived carbon-dioxide does play a role in the temperature increase we have seen over the last 150 years. However, there is no scientific consensus on how big this role is”, Peter Seier Christensen of the New Right said.
Researcher Jørgen Olesen of the Department of Agroecology also saw merit in Margrethe II's stance, suggesting that “don't panic” was a good point.
Political analyst Jens Ringberg stressed that the Queen is a beloved figure and almost “untouchable” regardless of what she says.
Margrethe II is Queen of Denmark, as well as the supreme authority of the Church of Denmark and commander-in-chief of the Danish Defence. Born into the House of Glücksburg, she has reigned over Denmark since 1972 and is the first female monarch of Denmark since Margrethe I, who steered the Scandinavian kingdoms in 1375-1412 during the Kalmar Union era.
On 16 April, Queen Margrethe II will turn 80. While major celebrations have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, over 120,000 Danes still want to celebrate the day with singing from balconies and windows, the Facebook group Denmark sings for the Queen reported. Margrethe II has asked not to send her flowers and instead send them to the elderly, who are most affected by the outbreak.