|Danish Queen Margrethe II and her husband Prince Consort Henrik wave to people outside the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, Jan. 15, 2012. Denmark celebrated the 40th anniversary of Queen Margrethe II's accession to the throne on Sunday. (Xinhua/Peng Zhongmin)
COPENHAGEN, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark marked the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne on Saturday with memorial services and a horse guards' parade through the heart of Copenhagen.
The 71-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Consort Henrik rode in a golden horse-drawn carriage down the Stroeget, the country's longest pedestrian street, accompanied by the horsemen of the Royal Danish Hussar Guard Regiment.
Crowds of thousands gathered in the bright winter sunshine to cheer the Queen as she rode from her official residence at the Amalienborg Palace, through downtown Copenhagen, to the imposing City Hall. There, she heard musical performances, attended a formal reception, and received gifts from the city council of Copenhagen.
King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia, and King Harald of Norway and his wife Queen Sonja, were among European royals present at the festivities. Crown Prince Frederik, next in line to the Danish throne, his wife Princess Mary, and members of the Danish government and royal court were also present.
In a much-awaited moment, the Queen stepped out on to City Hall's balcony and waved to crowds gathering in the nearby city square.
The ceremonies were part of a string of national events marking the Queen's 40-year reign, an unusually long term in the 1,000-year history of the Danish monarchy. Only two previous Danish monarchs have occupied the throne for 40 years or more.
Queen Margrethe II acceded to the throne on Jan. 14, 1972, following the death of her father King Frederik IX.
Her coronation marked the first time that an eldest female child became Denmark's regent. Traditionally, the crown goes to the oldest male heir.
Earlier Saturday, the Queen laid flowers at the graves of her father and her mother Queen Ingrid at the 12th-century Roskilde Cathedral, some 35 km west of the capital.
The Queen's role is largely ceremonial, as Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, where state power lies with an elected government and prime minister.
However, the Queen plays an important role in representing Denmark on royal visits abroad and in hosting foreign heads of state and other dignitaries when they visit Denmark.
The Queen has cordial relations with the country's government, and the Danish prime minister and cabinet brief the Queen on developments in the country around eight to 10 times per year.
On Tuesday, the Danish government and parliamentarians honored the Queen at an event at Christiansborg castle, the country's house of parliament, where Speaker of Parliament Mogens Lykketoft delivered a speech in praise of the Queen.
She also addressed her first live-broadcast press conference Tuesday, when she answered journalists' questions for 45 minutes on such diverse topics as Denmark's relations with former colony Greenland, her concern for ordinary people at a time of European economic crisis, and her relations with other royal houses in Europe.
On Sunday, the Queen will return to Christiansborg for a council meeting with Danish cabinet and be presented with gifts by the government and parliament.
Later, she will attend a religious service at Christiansborg Chapel, before hosting a gala dinner for Danish officials, foreign guests and family.