Denmark’s queen has apologised for stripping some of her grandchildren of their royal titles but defended the move as “future-proofing”' the monarchy.
Queen Margrethe II said her decision had been coming for some time and had been made to ensure the monarchy is "keeping with the times".
The 82-year-old added that she was “sorry” that she had "underestimated" her family's reaction.
The decision, which follows similar moves across Europe to scale back their monarchies, will take effect next year.
"The titles of prince and princess that they have held up until now will be discontinued," the initial statement, released last week, said. "Prince Joachim's descendants will thus have to be addressed as excellencies in the future."
Prince Joachim, the queen’s 53-year-old younger son, expressed his upset at the decision.
"It's never fun to see your children being mistreated like that," he told Ekstra Bladet. "They find themselves in a situation they do not understand."
Prince Joachim’s four children, Prince Nikolai, 23, Prince Felix, 20, Prince Henrik, 13, and Princess Athena, 10, will no longer be known as princes or princesses and go by the titles Count and Countess of Monpezat instead.
He and his wife, Princess Marie, said that they had not spoken to Queen Margrethe since the decision was revealed. Their son Prince Nikolai expressed his shock.
Princess Marie added that their youngest child had been bullied at school in light of the announcement.
The palace said it was a "natural extension" of Queen Margrethe’s move to cut down the monarchy.
"Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent," last week's statement read.
In response to the backlash, the monarch said: "No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.”
The children of her eldest son Crown Prince Frederik, 54, who is first in line to the throne, will keep their titles.
Frederik’s wife Crown Princess Mary expressed her support for the queen.
“Change can be difficult and can really hurt. But this does not mean that the decision is not the right one,” she said.
King Charles III is also reported to favour a “slimming down” of the British monarchy, with members of his staff warned of redundancy following his ascension.
Reports claim that his coronation is expected to be a scaled-back affair in comparison to that of the Queen in respect of the financial difficulties faced by much of the nation.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step back from royal duties also necessitated a rethink of who should support the sovereign in the most high-profile roles, as has the absence of Prince Andrew following the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
Queen Margrethe became the longest-serving living monarch in Europe after the death of the Queen, her third cousin, in September.
She marked the 50th anniversary of her accession in January with a scaled-down celebration due to Covid.
At the time of her accession, only 45 per cent of Danes were in favour of the monarchy, most believing it had no place in a modern democracy.
During her reign, however, Queen Margrethe has managed to stay away from scandal and helped to modernise the institution.
Today, the Danish monarchy is one of the most popular in the world, enjoying the support of more than 80 per cent of Danes.
Queen Margrethe is known for her relaxed and playful side, as well as for her involvement in Denmark's cultural scene.
A painter as well as a costume and set designer, she has worked with the Royal Danish Ballet and Royal Danish Theatre on numerous occasions.
She has studied at Cambridge and the Sorbonne, and is a fluent speaker of English, French, German and Swedish.
She has participated in elaborate translation projects, including the 1981 Danish version of Simone de Beauvoir's "All Men are Mortal" under a pseudonym in cooperation with her French-born husband, Prince Henrik.
But it is primarily her paintings and drawings that have caught the public's eye.
She has illustrated several books, including a Danish 2002 edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", and her paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries in Denmark and abroad.