COPENHAGEN - Draped in a Danish flag bearing the royal coat of arms, the casket of Denmark's Prince Henrik - husband of Queen Margrethe - was taken on a stately procession through the streets of northern Copenhagen Thursday.

Thousands of people lined the route as the hearse, followed by the queen, their two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, and other family members, left the Fredensborg Palace - where Henrik died on Tuesday at age 83 - to travel to the downtown Amalienborg Palace.

Across the country, Danish flags were at half-staff and gun salutes echoed through the capital at dawn, in honour of Henrik, before his white coffin left the castle he loved.

After family members have paid their respects privately, the coffin will be moved again and from Saturday will go on public display in the chapel of the Christiansborg Palace, which houses Denmark's Parliament and prime minister's office, until a funeral on Tuesday for family and friends only.

Although Henrik and the queen appeared to have a good marriage, the French-born prince had publicly vented his frustration at not being her social equal. He was titled prince consort - the husband of a reigning queen but not a king - and he wasn't in the line of succession, his oldest son Crown Prince Frederik being the heir.

Henrik caused a scandal last August by announcing that when he died he didn't want to be buried next to Margrethe in the cathedral where the remains of Danish royals have gone for centuries. The queen already had a specially designed sarcophagus waiting for the couple.

The palace has said it will respect Henrik's wish to be cremated, with half his ashes to be spread over Danish seas and the other half buried in the royal family's private garden at the Fredensborg Palace.

Denmark's royal family traces its lineage back to the Viking king Gorm the Old, who died in 958.