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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 07:49 GMT
Runaway prince returns home
Prince Henrik (left), Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe
Prince Henrik is said to be "no longer downcast"
The husband of the Danish queen is returning home on Tuesday, three weeks after quitting the country for his native France.


I can confirm that he will be flying back from France today

Royal official
Prince Consort Henrik left Denmark claiming that his status in the royal family had been downgraded, and saying he wanted to "reflect" on life.

His departure sparked rumours of a possible royal marriage split, but Queen Margrethe went to visit him at his chateau at Caix in southern France, and the couple told journalists they were happy to be together.

"I can confirm that he will be flying back from France today," a palace official told BBC News Online on Tuesday.

The 67-year-old prince was reported to be "no longer downcast".

Reception row

He is expected to resume his role in public life.

The incident which sparked Prince Henrik's departure was a royal reception on New Year's Day, at which the couple's son, Crown Prince Frederik, was given higher status than he was.

Queen Margrethe with Prince Henrik and Prince Joachim
The family will be reunited in Copenhagen
He told a Danish tabloid newspaper, BT, that royal staff had shunted him into "third place in the royal hierarchy" behind Crown Prince Frederik.

He had felt "pushed aside, degraded and humiliated", the newspaper reported, and his self-respect was being destroyed.

"For many years I have been Denmark's number two," he said. "I've been satisfied with that role, but I don't want to be relegated to number three after so many years."

Prince Henrik was born Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat.

Good news

He changed his name to Henrik as a mark of respect for the Danes, but in his newspaper interview he said the Danish people had never accepted him despite 35 years of marriage.

Prince Frederik had told the Danish paper that his father was unwell, and needed to "remain calm".

The crisis-hit family have had one piece of good news. Prince Joachim and his wife, Princess Alexandra, announced last Friday that their second baby was due in August.

The couple already have two-year-old child, Nikolai.

See also:

18 Feb 00 | Scotland
Queen 'Daisy' visits Scotland
02 Feb 02 | Europe
Dutch prince marries his Maxima
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