How Queen Margrethe of Denmark Created Illustration for the Lord of the Rings Books

Queen Margrethe of Denmark
Queen Margrethe of Denmark | © Aalborg Stift / Casper Tybjerg / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Aliki Seferou
13 July 2018

We already thought the Danish royals are one of the coolest royal families in Europe (why else would Danes love them so much, anyway?), and the fact that the Queen Margrethe used to be a great fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic novel The Lord of The Rings just confirms our beliefs.

In fact, Margrethe II of Denmark liked The Lord of The Rings so much that in the early 1970s while she was still Crown Princess of Denmark, she decided to make her own drawings that would depict the story of the best-selling novel through images. She then sent her illustrations to Tolkien, who, according to one of her biographers, was struck by how similar the Queen’s drawings were to his own. So, in 1977, five years after Margrethe’s father had died, leaving her the throne of Denmark, the Queen’s illustrations were printed and published in the Danish edition of The Lord of The Rings as well as on a British edition published by The Folio Society. If you’ve seen these editions and wonder how her name slipped your attention, it’s because Queen Margrethe used the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. Take a look at the well-known paintings that impressed the legendary English writer here.

Henrik, Prince Consort and Margrethe II of Denmark | ©

The talented Margrethe II of Denmark

Even though the Queen of Denmark has an impressive academic background with studies in Political Science at Aarhus University (at the same department her son Prince Frederik would study several years after), Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and some years at the London School of Economics, it seems that she’s always been attracted to more creative activities. She’s known for designing her own dresses, ceremonial garments for the Danish bishops as well as costumes for theatrical plays. Among her most popular works are her designs for the movie Wild Swans, which is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s renowned fairy tale, and her costumes for the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of A Folk Tale.

In 2000, 23 years after her first published work, Her Majesty illustrated her husband Henrik Prince Consort‘s poetry collection Cantabile. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all these years in between she had set her painting brush down. Being an enthusiastic artist, Queen Margrethe never stopped drawing over the 46 years she’s been on the throne and her artworks have been displayed in some of Denmark’s most popular museums like ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus and Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj. Her paintings cover a wide range of artistic styles but in an interview for Reuters several years ago, she has claimed that her favourite genre is landscape paintings and that she’s often inspired by Danish nature.

It’s been a while since we last saw an exhibition with the Queen’s paintings, so we hope she’s still spending some time in her studio and we’ll soon see more of her artwork.

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