Danish queen to undergo 'major back surgery'

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, whose half-century reign makes her Europe’s longest-serving monarch, will undergo “major back surgery” later this month, the royal palace said Wednesday.

The 82-year-monarch will be hospitalized afterward and undergo “a longer rehabilitation process,” the royal household said in a statement.

“During a long period, Her Majesty has been affected by problems with her back, and in recent times the situation has worsened,” the statement said.

Margrethe has decided to undergo “major back surgery” on Feb. 22 after consulting with doctors, the palace said, adding that several official engagements will either be postponed, canceled or handled by other members of the royal family.

The oldest son of Denmark’s popular monarch, heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederik, and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, are likely to step in as well as Margrethe’s youngest son, Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie, and the queen's sister, Princess Benedikte.

In the past several days, Margrethe had canceled events, including the opening of an exhibition in Copenhagen.

The Danish Constitution gives Margrethe, Denmark's head of state, no political power and her duties are ceremonial. She was proclaimed queen on Jan. 15, 1972, a day after her father, King Frederik IX, died following a short illness.