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Amid lockdown, Danes find way to celebrate queen's birthday

National flags are raised outside Fredensborg Castle, in Fredensborg, Denmark, Thursday, April 16, 2020. The Danish Queen Margrethe is celebrating her 80th birthday today but in private due to the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
National flags are raised outside Fredensborg Castle, in Fredensborg, Denmark, Thursday, April 16, 2020. The Danish Queen Margrethe is celebrating her 80th birthday today but in private due to the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Observing social distancing, Danes on Thursday sang birthday songs from homes, balconies, parks and public gardens to honor popular Queen Margrethe II, who turned 80 amid the pandemic lockdown.

The festivities were shown live by the country's two public broadcasters, DR and TV2, which aired footage of flag-waving people singing the Danish version of “Happy Birthday,” playing instruments and cheering. The initiative was organized by a Facebook group whose members said they had wanted to find a way of honoring Margrethe despite pandemic restrictions.

The queen, who ascended to the throne in 1972 and whose royal lineage goes back more than 1,000 years, has repeatedly said she has no plans to abdicate.

“Thanks for the song. It went straight to the heart,” Margrethe said in a live interview with DR. She later appeared alone on the stairs of the Fredensborg palace where she currently resides, to wave to television cameras.

All public royal birthday celebrations — including the traditional waving from the balcony at the royal family's main residence at the Amalienborg castle in the heart of Copenhagen, a ride through town in a horse-drawn carriage and banquets — have been canceled. due to the pandemic

Earlier this month, Margrethe had urged people not to give her flowers, saying instead that they should be sent Instead they should be sent “to one of the many older fellow citizens having difficulty at this time." Florists reported larger-than-usual numbers of bouquets being sent to retirement homes.

Danish red-and-white flags fluttered on official buildings across the country with blue skies and white clouds as backdrop.

The day started with employees at the Fredensborg Palace north of the Danish capital singing inside a banquet hall with the monarch, visibly moved, standing on a balcony in her morning gown with her hair down.

Born days after Nazi German troops occupied Denmark, Margrethe wed in June 1967 a French diplomat Henri Marie Jean André, Count of Laborde de Monpezat, who became Prince Henrik of Denmark. He died Feb. 13, 2018.

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