No woman rules in Europe anymore. The abdication of Margaret II of Denmark, just one year and four months after the death of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 2022, and the proclamation of her son Frederick generation of crown princesses born in this century who strive to become the to take over leadership of their respective monarchies on the Old Continent. Thanks to new laws that eliminate men's dominance in the succession, many women are positioned at the top. Isabel of Belgium (born 2001), Amalia of the Netherlands (2003) and Leonor de Borbón (2005) have the creation and maintenance of European monarchies in their hands, at a time marked by the decline of the institution. They will be joined first in the line of succession by Ingrid Alexandra from Norway (2004) and Estela from Sweden (2012), once Haakon from Norway and Victoria from Sweden are crowned.
“Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce a gender-neutral succession plan in 1980,” said Swedish expert Roger Lundgren in statements to the AFP agency. Only Spain, Monaco and Liechtenstein ignore the change in the law and are portrayed as the only countries in Europe without progress. These laws change the trend and allow the ascension to the Swedish throne of Princess Victoria of Sweden, born in 1977; and mother Princess Estela, now second in line to the throne. The Swedish heiress is placed on Europe's monarchical map as the only woman to wear the crown before the arrival of the promising Generation Z, when she succeeds her father, King Carl XVI. Gustaf of Sweden, who continues to perform his role at 77 years old. The Swedish monarch in particular was heavily criticized when he expressed his discomfort a year ago about what the abolition of the Salic law meant.
Royal experts agree that a monarch's gender doesn't matter because the institution faces the same challenges and obligations. Although “a lot will remain the same,” as “a lot of the work of the current monarchs and what they will do in 25 years is similar to what they did 200 years ago,” Lundgren explains in reference to the diplomatic role that largely represents the common role of the monarchies, with state visits or royal receptions. “Each new generation always has to face a major challenge, and not least: the question of the usefulness of the crown,” adds Lisa Castro, historian of the crown, 19th-century monarchies and doctor at the French University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès.
However, monarchies are not exempt from generational development. Some of the future European queens have continued their studies in their country or abroad – such as Isabella of Belgium and Eleanor of Spain, who studied at the UWC Atlantic College in Wales – and are receiving training in military training that differs greatly from previous queens distinguished, e.g. Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom or Margaret II of Denmark. In addition, future queens are expected to be more aware of current challenges and issues such as climate change, feminism or the fight for the rights of the LGBTI community. Princesses born in the 21st century have grown up in a world shaped by the climate crisis, the Me Too movement, the Covid pandemic, the explosion of social networks and most recently the wars in Ukraine and Israel. “In the Scandinavian monarchies, awareness of the fight against climate change is particularly strong,” says Castro.
From left: Princess Estela of Sweden, Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, Christian of Denmark, Amalia of the Netherlands and Elisabeth of Belgium, during the Danish prince's 18th birthday in Copenhagen, October 15, 2023. Keld Navntoft, Kongehuset
Journalist Pilar Eyre was also involved in compiling statements from the French agency Afp: “It is impossible for time not to wear down the monarchical institution,” she says, citing Prince William’s “image management” as an example the United Kingdom and his wife Kate Middleton. An assumption that Swedish licensing expert Ebba Kleberg also agrees with: “They need to be present on more platforms while always maintaining the traditional media channels used by previous generations, as these do not reach everyone.”
In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed in 2021 that Crown Princess Amalia of Orange could marry a woman if she wanted to – the country has allowed gay marriage since 2001. A turnaround that once again shows the efforts of an institution to survive in the new world and its needs, as was the case a few years ago with the entry of people outside the nobility and the royal family into the European royal houses: with the cases of the wedding of Máxima Zorreguieta from Argentina to Guillermo from the Netherlands; Daniel of Sweden, personal trainer and current husband of Princess Victoria; or Letizia Ortiz, a divorced journalist, with Felipe de Borbón.
The kings and queens have also joined the fight for new realities. Queen Letizia recently visited a club that helps prostituted women, something that Eyre said was “unimaginable for previous generations.” “It is with these gestures that they win the affection and respect of the citizens, not with big ceremonies or great costumes,” adds the journalist, for whom the current princesses “will be feminist queens, or not.”