The Royal Danish Hearing Loss

qm1The Danish Royal family can trace its linage back over 1000 years to Harthacnut‘s son, Gorm the Old (Gorm den Gamle),.  He reigned in the early 10th century, followed by his son, the famous Harald I or “Bluetooth.”

Audiologists and hearing aid engineers may recall that in 2012 Hearing International reviewed how Bluetooth technology came about its name.  It was ol’ Bluetooth himself who, in the 10 century, united the Scandinavian countries.  Since he united Scandinavia, his name and initials in the language of Younger Futhark  have become the logo for qm9Bluetooth technology that unites and connects today’s electronic devices.  The current Danish Royal family is directly descended from these uniting kings of 10th century, making it the fourth oldest Royal family in the world today.

Queen Margrethe II

In 2015, the Danish monarch is Queen Margrethe II, part of the same family that has ruled Denmark for 49 generations.  Queen Daisy, as she is referred to by her adoring Danish subjects, is the first reigning Queen of Denmark (her namesake Queen Margrethe I qm5acted as regent for her five-year-old son Olaf when he was elected king in the 14th century).  She has the reputation of being Europe’s most intellectual monarch, having attended no fewer than five universities, including Cambridge where she studied Prehistoric Archeology, Political Science and Economics.

The very popular Danish Queen is the cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria , who lead the British during the late 19th century.  The arrival of Margrethe Alexandrine Thorhildur Ingrid Oldenburg on April 16, 1940, at Copenhagen’s Amalienborg Palace, occurred a week after the country was invaded by German forces.  Her birth was interpreted as a ray of hope by the Danish people.  At birth she was not the heir to the throne, however, as that position was held by her father’s younger brother. At the time,  Danish law dictated that only males could succeed to the Danish throne.

In 1953, the constitution was amended to allow females to ascend in the absence of male heirs.  The future of the 13-year-old princess, the eldest of King Frederik IX’s three daughters ,became clear to the world.  As with many Europeans of her generation, she is fluent in her native Danish and five other languages.  Called by some the “World’s Coolest Queen”, her life is one of example and there are many web sites as well as written references presenting her dignity, grace and poise. According to sources she is a “hands-on” Queen that meets with 7 of her subjects every two weeks during the winter months to discuss any subject they wish with the monarch.

The Royal Hearing Loss

In 2011 at age 71,qm2 Queen Margrethe II emerged as a hearing aid user.  This makes good sense in that 3 of the big 6 hearing instrument manufacturers (William Demant Companies: Oticon/Bernafon/Sonic; Widex, and GN ReSound: ReSound/Beltone/Interton) are headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, not far from her palace.

While a secret source indicates that the devices are from Oticon, no one has reliably offered Hearing International the specific brand.  Queen Daisy is not shy about presenting the fact that she uses hearing instruments very effectively and that they help her in her everyday activities (the RIC tubes are obvious up close in this photo).  In 2011, Lene Balleby, the court’s communictions director said “Queen Margrethe comes every day in contact with many people and, of course, it is not nice to feel that you are so hard of hearing that you can not hear everything that is said around one. Therefore, Queen Margrethe decided qm3that the time has come to get a hearing aid.”

When the Queen was fit with her devices in 2011, various hearing organizations, particularly those in Europe, felt that such a beloved important person using hearing aids would make a big difference in the reduction of stigma associated with amplification and hearing devices.  Just as U.S.  Presidents Reagan’s and Clinton’s use of hearing devices in the early 1980s and 1990s, respectively,  made hearing instruments more acceptable, it was hoped that Queen Margrethe II’s use of hearing aids would reduce stigma in Europe as well.

Photos during this period document  her wearing of the hearing devices and, while no one actually said what brand they were,  the “word on the street was that the instruments were Oticon RICs”.  An unnamed source did know, however, that Queen’s mother was a loyal Widex customer.  As Hearing International investigated the Queen’s use of hearing devices a question remains:  Does she still wear them?  In some of her most recent public appearances, such as her 40th Jubilee (2012) and her 75th birthday (2015),  it is not obvious that the hearing devices are in use.  But, there are a number of options that could explain why devices were more visible in 2011 than in 2015:

  1.  Close ups of the Queen’s ear are not readily available during these appearancesqm7 and it is difficult to tell if she had hearing instruments.
  2. Photos are not clear enough to provide answers as to if she was wearing hearing devices.  The receiver tubes were not visible and the hearing devices did not seem to be behind her ear.
  3. Invisible in the canal hearing devices (IICs) have greatly improved since 2011 and could now be using these IICs or extended wear products.
  4. The last option is that the Queen, as with many other hearing impaired individuals, may have become discouraged with amplification and found the instruments to be more of a problem than the hearing impairment itself.
All of us, every nationality, culture on the globe are conscientious of the stigma of hearing devices, especially those that are the public eye.  A review of the issue of Stigma was presented in an earlier issue of Hearing International.  While a studies such as that of Palmer (2014) suggest that the stigma from hearing devices seems to be less in this new century, their use still presents connotations for less competence and ageism among their users which societies need to overcome.

References:

Hello Daily News (2015).  Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Retrieved September 15, 2015.

The Danish Monarchy (2015).  Her Majesty Queen Margrethe 2.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

Wikipedia, Margrethe II of Denmark.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

Images:

AP and World Israel News Staff (2015). WIN World Israel News.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

DRF Garden 2nd (2012).  1 Gala Performance in DRs Concert Hall – H.M. The Queen’s 40th Jubilee as Reign.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

Jespersen, K. (2015). Royal Residences.  Denmark:  The official Website of Denmark.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

Jorgensen, J. (2015).  Photographer. Queen Margrethe 2.  The Danish Monarchy.  Retrieved September 15, 2015.

 

 

 

About Robert Traynor

Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D., MBA is the CEO and practicing audiologist at Audiology Associates, Inc., in Greeley, Colorado with particular emphasis in amplification and operative monitoring, offering all general audiological services to patients of all ages. Dr. Traynor holds degrees from the University of Northern Colorado (BA, 1972, MA 1973, Ed.D., 1975), the University of Phoenix (MBA, 2006) as well as Post Doctoral Study at Northwestern University (1984). He taught Audiology at the University of Northern Colorado (1973-1982), University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (1976-77) and Colorado State University (1982-1993). Dr. Traynor is a retired Lt. Colonel from the US Army Reserve Medical Service Corps and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Audiology at the University of Florida, the University of Colorado, and the University of Northern Colorado. For 17 years he was Senior International Audiology Consultant to a major hearing instrument manufacturer traveling all over the world providing academic audiological and product orientation for distributors and staff. A clinician and practice manager for over 35 years, Dr. Traynor has lectured on most aspects of the field of Audiology in over 40 countries. Dr. Traynor is the current President of the Colorado Academy of Audiology and co-author of Strategic Practice Management a text used in most universities to train audiologists in practice management, now being updated to a 2nd edition.

2 Comments

  1. My NHS opticon spirit synergies (much googling still hasn’t told me which Commertial model these equate to, if you know, please tell me) certainly do have telicoils.

    Brilliant devices, I have a £10 neck loop that means no messing with ear buds to listern to my iPhone.

    A £15 EBay loop amplifier (plus a bit of wire and some of husbands geekery) to listern to my TV and our church has a loop too.

    Church’s loop is a bit quiet, one day I’ll have a play.

    Blue tooth is all very clever, but you spend forever getting things to pair and then their batteries run flat.

    Yes I have some very rarely used Bluetooth head phones, which cable has gone AWOL to charge my Daughters tablet, again.

  2. Let’s pray Danish audiologists educated the Queen of the benefits of the telecoil in the hearing aid as this technology can help overcome the typical 2-meter hearing bubble: http://canadianaudiologist.ca/issue/volume-2-issue-5-2015/breaking-the-2-meter-hearing-bubble/

    Hopefully she was not recommended the Oticon’s smallest RIC model. That model, now nearly 6 or 7 years old, LACKS this useful feature. Why can Oticon not correct this omission? Other manufacturers (such as Unitron) can do it in instruments half of the Oticon’s Agil size. Sure the streamer offers a telecoil but I doubt the Queen would be open to using the Oticon streamer over (or under) her dressy clothes.

    Here is to hoping the Queen was fit with another excellent Danish made instrument: the small Widex Fusion model. These devices come standard with EXCELLENT telecoils that are among the best in the industry: Meaning Widex’ Frequency responses at 70dB SPL or 100 mA/m magnetic inputs in a vertical field are closely matched. Another benefit is that she will not have to guess as to what program she is in (one beep? two beeps, musical sequence beeps? – Useful voice prompts will cue her in.

Comments are closed.