Prince Joachim of Denmark is breaking his silence on a family decision.
"We are all very sad. It's never fun to see your children being mistreated like that," he told the national newspaper Ekstra Bladet on Thursday. "They find themselves in a situation they do not understand."
"I was given five days' notice," Joachim added.
The reporter responded that she thought he learned of the Queen's plans in May, prompting the sixth in line to the throne to explain that wasn't quite the case.
- Vi alle sammen meget kede af det, siger en tydeligt berørt prins Joachim til Ekstra Bladet, der torsdag møder ham ude foran den danske ambassade i Paris.
LÆS MERE: https://t.co/Ni6fzJBNiU#ekstrabladet pic.twitter.com/Bi2ZcUOtXl
— Ekstra Bladet (@EkstraBladet) September 29, 2022
"In May, I was presented with a plan, which basically stated that when the children each turned 25, it would happen," Joachim said. "Athena turns 11 in January," he added of his youngest child.
"How has this affected your relationship with your mother?" the journalist asked.
Holding for a moment, looking emotional, Joachim replied, "I don't think I need to elaborate here," and turned to walk away.
Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Queen Margrethe with Prince Joachim and his family
In a statement to B.T., another national outlet, the palace insisted that the announcement should not have come as a surprise.
"As the Queen stated yesterday, the decision has been a long time coming. We understand that there are many emotions at stake at the moment, but we hope that the Queen's wish to future-proof the Royal Palace will be respected," a spokesperson for the Danish Royal Palace told the outlet.
Doubling down on his argument in his own remarks to B.T., Joachim stated, "I was given five days' notice of this. To tell my children that on New Year's their identity will be taken from them. I am very, very sorry to see them uncomprehending about what is happening over their heads."
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty
The father of four — who is dad to sons Nikolai, 23, Felix, 20, and Henrik, 13, and daughter Athena, 10 — added that he's mystified why everything was accelerated.
"I simply don't know. I originally asked for time to think and give my feedback. That would also be taken into account," the Danish royal told B.T., adding that his kids were having a hard time processing the change.
"I can say that my children are upset. My kids don't know which leg to stand on," he said. "What they should believe. Why should their identity be removed? Why must they be punished in that way?"
In a memo issued Wednesday, the palace announced that Nikolai, Felix, Henrik and Athena would lose their prince/princess styling and "His/Her Highness" titles starting on January 1, 2023. The siblings will be known instead as His Excellency Count of Monpezat or Her Excellency Countess of Monpezat.
"With her decision, 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 without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves," the court said.
The Danish palace also noted that "the Queen's decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years," such as in Sweden three years ago.
Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock Denmark's Queen Margrethe
Prince Joachim shares his two eldest sons with his first wife, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg. He remarried in 2008 to Princess Marie, and they later welcomed Henrik and Athena.
Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg reacted to the news after the announcement, saying she was "in shock" by the decision.
"We are all confused by the decision. We are saddened and in shock," Alexandra via her press advisor Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen, according to Danish magazine Se og Hør. "This comes like a bolt from the blue. The children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them."
The day the decision was announced, Queen Margrethe briefly took questions from the press on the major change for her grandchildren.
"It is a consideration I have had for quite a long time, and I think it will be good for them in their future. That is the reason," the 82-year-old monarch said, according to Hello! Magazine.