On the evening of December 31, 2016, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark delivered her traditional New Year’s speech live from Amalienborg Slot in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Right now only a few hours remain of the old year, 2016. Very soon we will write 2017 – a new year with new opportunities, but also with the tasks and problems we did not manage to complete or solve in the old year. Writing 2017 instead of 2016 will not make our concerns disappear.
During the past year, we have witnessed terrorist attacks that have filled us with fear and horror. But we have learnt that we must not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. Life must go on. We must persevere and not lose heart.
There is good reason here to say thank you to all those who make an effort to ensure our safety and security. They have assumed a responsibility which they, naturally, are under an obligation to undertake, but which they carry out with commitment and care. They are always prepared, and they contribute to ensuring that we can maintain the joy of life. For we will not abandon the joy of life.
War and poverty have made many flee their home countries to seek refuge, also in Denmark. We take care of people who need help and many stand ready to help them settle and create a new life in this, to them, very strange country. They have expectations of their new life – and we have expectations of them. Refugees need to understand the country they have arrived in: A country where not only the climate is completely different, but where the way of life and the customs are different and have a long history and deep roots.
It is not easy to settle in a foreign country. It is hard work that requires good will and an open mind.
Many new Danes have experienced this first-hand. They have worked with great determination to learn the Danish language and get to know Danish traditions. They have found jobs and they see to it that their children get a good start in life. They have gained a foothold here and feel at home in Denmark. They have become part of our community.
They have good reason to be apprehensive of being affected by the scepticism that may arise when new large numbers of refugees stream into Denmark and when some find it difficult to find their place in Denmark; but they should not suffer if others do not make the same effort to become part of the Danish community.
Exactly this aspect, to be part of the Danish community, is of great importance. It is not something that can be asked for, but it is something that comes almost unnoticeably little by little. It is there when “they” becomes “we” and “them” becomes “us” – the Danes, we Danes!
What does it mean to be Danish? Do we need to be Danish? Does nationality play any role at all in modern industrialized global society?
What a question to ask!
After all, we are Danes; but we are also different. We have a different background, we have a different upbringing. We come from a big city, we come from a small community, but each and every one of us knows that we are Danish. This is part of our identity.
Perhaps we feel it most strongly when we return to Denmark after a long journey: The signposting is in Danish – and the number plates – the weather? Well, but that is what we are used to. The language – indeed, it is an integral part of ourselves. We have listened to Danish and spoken it from childhood. It is the joy of recognition we experience. This, to the same extent as our habits and customs, is part of being Danish.
Denmark is a small country where it is easy to get from one place to another. But we are also a society where people are very busy. The children go to school, both parents have a job, holiday plans must be made; it can be difficult to see even the neighbours next door – the other families living in flats in the same building, or those a bit further down the road, colleagues at work. We see ourselves as very friendly and outgoing people who find it easy to smile and make small talk. But we must not ignore the self-sufficiency which may also characterise us Danes.
Let us make a New Year’s resolution for 2017! Let us try to see the people who surround us. Let us bear in mind also to notice those we do not know already. “How are things over there?” Is there a need for a helping hand, some care, or just a “good morning” by way of recognition, a nod to the person we are queuing with at the tills?
We sometimes feel lonely, also in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.
During my trips on board the Royal Yacht Dannebrog, I have visited very different parts of the country. There are places where the wheels are spinning, the business sector is flourishing, and everybody I encounter takes great pride in their work. There are other places where conditions are more difficult. It is clearly problematic for them to make ends meet and to keep up their spirits. Nevertheless, it is the smiles and the warm welcome I receive everywhere that I remember most clearly. Also where the problems may seem huge, there are people with fresh ideas, with entrepreneurial spirit; sometimes as an act of defiance.
Here on the threshold of the New Year, optimism is gaining ground and the economy is growing. Now is the time that we need people with ideas and enterprise everywhere.
Denmark cannot function without all those who make an effort in production. This applies to large as well as small manufacturing companies, and to the agricultural sector; and it applies to those who transport goods from one end of the country to another, and sell the goods to their customers, or to those who have a completely different function in our society.
Job satisfaction is altogether fundamental to our everyday lives. It is job satisfaction that makes staff as well as managers make the extra effort; job satisfaction sets the wheels spinning and leads to the unified entity which is our well-functioning Danish society. Our society which we take pride in.
This year the Olympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It was a great pleasure for me to meet with many of the participants, both from the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games here in autumn after their return to Denmark. Their efforts were exemplary – and nerve-racking – and they are good role models for young as well as elderly people. Their fine results did us all proud.
Aarhus has been designated as the European Capital of Culture 2017. This is a source of pleasure to us all. I have so many good memories from the time when I lived and studied in Aarhus – in my youth a great many years ago. The Crown Prince also studied in Aarhus and got his master’s there. We go there in summer as well as in winter and our family often celebrate Easter and Christmas in Aarhus.
I wish to congratulate everybody in Aarhus and in the region on the task of Capital of Culture and I wish you good luck with the performance of this task – and I hope the rest of us will enjoy all the events in the coming year. I am looking forward to visiting Aarhus. The city has much to offer, also to the rest of the world.
Also this year, Danes posted abroad have made a great effort.
Many serve in distant places where they risk their lives and limbs in the fight for peace. They bring new hope to people who through no fault of their own have lost everything in bloody conflicts – their loved ones, their homes and their livelihood.
Danish soldiers are training the Iraqi forces on the ground in Iraq, and in Afghanistan they continue to train the country’s own soldiers. The Crown Prince has visited our soldiers posted in Iraq and in Mali. There he had the opportunity to thank them in person for their great and effective efforts.
The Air Force continues to be involved in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East where they make a very valuable contribution. It is very demanding for pilots as well as personnel on the ground.
The Navy has headed the task of transporting the remains of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpiles from the country, a necessary and reassuring task which they have performed at the same time as they carry out their important task of sovereignty enforcement and maritime rescue service at sea in the North Atlantic and in all Danish waters.
Tonight, I send my thank you to all of them, in Denmark, and wherever they serve throughout the world, for their good and professional effort and I wish each and every one of them a happy New Year.
Throughout the world there are many people of Danish origin. They are well-integrated and many are nationals of the country in which they live, but they still feel Danish and they are good representatives of Danish values. I wish them a happy New Year, we are proud of them, here in their country of origin.
Danes in South Schleswig constitute a special group of people living outside Denmark. Tonight, I send my warmest New Year greetings to them. It is always a great pleasure for me to see that so many associations, institutions and private homes uphold Danish culture, tradition and history.
On this last evening of the year, I wish to send my greetings and thanks to the many professional people as well as the many volunteers who during the holiday season contribute to making Christmas and New Year festive, also for those who are on their own, while others are celebrating.
I also wish to say thank you and send New Year greetings to all those who see to it that we are safe and secure in our everyday lives as well as on a festive evening like tonight. This applies to the Police and the Defence, the Danish Emergency Management Agency and those who are on duty tonight, at hospitals among others.
It was a great pleasure for me to travel to the Faroe Islands again last summer. As always, it was a wonderful experience to receive the warm and friendly welcome of the Faroese people. I got a clear impression of the enterprise which the Faroese people demonstrate and of the ensuing results. It is clearly visible both in terms of business and trade and everywhere in the thriving cultural life of these beautiful islands.
I send my warmest greetings and best wishes for a happy New Year to everybody in the Faroe Islands.
Also this year we have experienced the increased interest in Greenland. The breath-taking nature of Greenland is impressive and attracts visitors from the entire world. Nature is Greenland’s unique treasure house; but Greenland lies exposed. Climate change is clearly felt, and increased international interest in the Arctic region makes many turn their attention to Greenland. I am very conscious of the challenge experienced by Greenland right now, and tonight I wish to send my very best wishes for the New Year to everybody in Greenland.
In the year ahead, Prince Henrik and I can celebrate our golden wedding anniversary. We have decided to celebrate the occasion very quietly with our sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. These 50 years have been full of tasks that have given us much joy and pleasure. We and our family always meet with a warm and caring reception. It fills us with gratitude.
Also the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess and Prince Joachim and Princess Marie meet with this attention. They all add their greetings and best wishes together with Prince Henrik and me when I tonight wish you all a happy New Year with a thank you for the year that has come to an end.
GOD BLESS DENMARK”