"It's a warm and beautiful country and I feel welcome," says Denmark's new Crown Princess to-be, Miss Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, about Hans Christian Andersen's Denmark, which is soon to host a true fairytale Royal Wedding.
"I'm very happy to be here in Denmark. I have read reports that I speak fluent Danish. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case. But it's very important for me to become good at speaking Danish, and I look forward to becoming fluent," says 32 year-old Miss Mary Elizabeth Donaldson.
Denmark's future Crown Princess amazed the Danes and TV viewers the world over when on the day of the engagement to HRH Crown Prince Frederik she spoke to the press in well articulated and almost fluent Danish. The Danes have long waited for the day when 35 year old Crown Prince Frederik would present his wife to-be. With the Royal Wedding on May 14th, Denmark will gain a future Queen. Miss Mary Donaldson has Scottish roots but was born and raised on the Australian island of Tasmania. She holds a BA in commerce and law and has formerly held the position of Sales Director at a property development company in Sydney. "We met through mutual friends in Sydney in connection with the 2000 Sydney Olympic games.
This was almost four years ago, and fortunately our relationship has developed in such a way that we today can present ourselves to the world and be happy about it," says Crown Prince Frederik. He continues: "After two years of endless e-mails and telephone calls, we had reached a point where we realized that if our relationship was to develop, Mary would have to move to Europe - since moving me was a little difficult."
Miss Mary Donaldson adds: "Yes, it was a big decision for me, but above all I was supported by Frederik - and by my family and closest friends, of course. As Frederik once wrote to me then, "daring" means to lose your footing for a moment, but "not daring" is to lose yourself, and I think that is how we view life."
Mary among Europe's royals
Miss Mary Donaldson will not only become a member of the Danish Royal Family, she will also become a member of most of Europe's Royal Families, many of whom are descendants of the Danish King Christian IX, whose six children married into the leading Royal Families of Europe in the mid-19th century. Their descendants today are all cousins.
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II - great-granddaughter of Christian IX - is held in high esteem by the Danish population. Queen Margrethe is the eldest daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid, who had no sons. In 1953, the constitution was mended by plebiscite to change the order of succession allowing the young Princess Margrethe precede more distant male relatives as heir to the throne. She was suddenly Heir to the throne/Crown Princess Margrethe.
"I was very shy and didn't like people talking about the fact that one day I would become Queen. That would always remind me that one day my father wouldn't be here. On the other hand, I was happy to know that my future was here in Denmark, and that I wouldn't be married off to another country, which was always the tradition in our family." Says Queen Margrethe. The Queen married the French-born Count Henrik de Laborde de Montpezat, and they had two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.
A modern Royal Family
The Danish Queen and her family are in touch with Danish society, and the Danes proudly recognize the monarchy and the Royal Family as part of their cultural heritage. Every year the Queen makes a speech, which is broadcast to the nation, where she addresses the issues of modern society in a personal and forthright way. Queen Margrethe is intelligent and artistically gifted. She is wholeheartedly engaged in her art. Her work can be seen in theatres, churches and in TV productions. In her artist's studio, Queen Margrethe requires peace and quiet. She does not want to be disturbed!
Queen Margrethe was the first heir to the Danish throne in history who chose to marry outside of royal circles and follow her heart. Her husband, HRH Prince Henrik, grew up in Vietnam and France and takes special interest in gastronomy. He enjoys mushroom hunting in the early autumn and discussing the day's menu with the Royal Chef. Prince Henrik has published several books, among them an autobiography, a cookbook and several books of poetry. Furthermore, Prince Henrik manages his vineyard, Chateaux Caix, in Cahors, France.
Stepping in for the Queen
As Heir Apparent, Crown Prince Frederik holds office as head of state in his mother's absence. With a Masters degree in political science from Aarhus University, including studies at Harvard, and with his experience at the Danish UN mission - and not least his strenuous military training within all three services, including the Royal Danish Frogman's Corps - Crown Prince Frederik feels he is well equipped to become King of Denmark! "It is important to keep up with the times and developments in society in order to be good at your job. In my position, you can't be political, nor should you. It's a question of the best diplomat to represent your country." Says Crown Prince Frederik.
The Danish Monarchy is constitutional, and the Royal Family holds no political power. Nevertheless, the Royal Family is an active part of the community and they meet the Danes in everyday life. During the year, the Queen and her family reside at different residences in Denmark, where according to custom the Royal Family attends church services, goes shopping on busy high streets and attends cultural events, such as trips to the circus. During the summer Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik board the Royal Yacht Danneborg to visit many of the nation's port towns. When Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim were young they would readily lead their parents down the gangway. "Since each monarchy is unique, there's no guide book to show you how to do things, you have to lead a royal life when it is required of you, but you also have to be down to earth when the situation changes," Prince Joachim says. Both brothers grew up leading as normal life as possible. They went to a local private school and many of their friends are old schoolmates. They both have royal duties but Prince Joachim is also a farmer. He lives with his wife Princess Alexandra - who originally comes from Hong Kong - and their two sons, Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, at their farm Schackenborg in Southern Jutland.
The Danes are fantastic
Queen Margrethe can rest assured that the day when her son assumes the throne, Crown Prince Frederik will have the best possible support and guidance by his side and the Danes are very supportive of Crown Prince Frederik's choice.
For generations the Danish monarch has married someone of foreign descent. New blood, as they say, brings new life. When asked what she thinks of her new home in Denmark, Miss Mary Donaldson answers without hesitation: "The Danes are fantastic. I have some wonderful friends who have helped and supported me. There really isn't a great difference between the Danes and the Australians. Denmark is a warm and beautiful country, and I feel very much at home. You have something of everything here, and for me to have the water everywhere around me is fantastic." Says Denmark's Crown Princess to-be, Miss Mary Elizabeth Donaldson.