Soccer and the Queen

19 Jun

I am embarrassingly behind on blog posts, so this is a first attempt at getting caught up!

Back in March, a few friends and I attended a friendly soccer match between the United States and Denmark. We were among over 10,000 fans packed into NRGi Park in Aarhus to watch Jurgen Klinsmann’s American squad – fresh off a strong world cup performance – take on the Danes. In what was an exciting and rain-soaked game, Denmark came out on top 3-2 behind Nicklas Bendtner’s hat-trick, which included the winning goal in stoppage time just before the final whistle.

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Then in April, Denmark celebrated Queen Margrethe II’s 75th birthday. Denmark has the oldest monarchy in Europe, dating back to the 10th century and the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth (and in case you’re wondering: yes, bluetooth technology was in fact named after Danish Viking King Harald Bluetooth). Queen Margrethe II is only the second queen in Danish history and she presides over the Kingdom of Denmark, which includes Denmark and the autonomous regions of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, but only as a figurehead without any real political power.

The fact that Denmark – one of the most egalitarian countries in the world – still has a monarchy is seemingly a paradox. The Danes are very informal and operate on a first-name basis with just about everyone, and good luck finding someone wearing a tie in this country outside of the Parliament or a Maersk office. They are also quite disapproving of privileges or boasting of any kind – they even practice something called the Jante Law, which is basically a social code of conduct that requires its Scandinavian adherents to believe that they are nothing special and not better than anyone else. Despite their culture of humility, most of the Danes I’ve talked to seem to think their monarchy is an important part of Danish tradition and tourism, and that Queen Margrethe II has done a solid job as an ambassador for Danish businesses and other interests abroad. Her reputation stands in sharp contrast to her French husband’s – most Danes I’ve talked to enjoy cracking jokes about him almost endlessly.

Anyway, a few days before her actually birthday, Queen Margrethe II was in Aarhus to celebrate, so a few friends and I ventured downtown to watch the royal procession, hear her speak from the balcony of the city hall, and then enjoy some free cake afterwards – maybe the real reason they keep her around?!

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More posts to come soon!!

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Rachel in Denmark

[American] Expat living in Copenhagen

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