how Crown Princess Mary changed Prince Fred­erik’s life, and shaped Den­mark’s fu­ture

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

The evo­lu­tion of Crown Prince Fred­erik, the play­boy royal who longed to be free, to 50-year-old heir ap­par­ent and fa­ther win­ning Dan­ish hearts and minds, has a lot to do with the im­pres­sive woman by his side. Juliet Rieden in­ves­ti­gates the se­cret to Den­mark’s power cou­ple.

On his wed­ding day, a newly con­fi­dent, emo­tional and, yes, in­cred­i­bly dash­ing, 35-year-old Crown Prince Fred­erik gave a speech that sur­prised the world. Rarely had a royal so in­ti­mately de­clared his love in such a pub­lic fo­rum and rarely with such un­abashed can­dour about his own fail­ures. “I had only been in Aus­tralia two days be­fore our fates were sealed, even though nei­ther of us was aware of it. But your ra­di­ance shone clearly for me from our very first meet­ing. Since then I have been blinded and to­tally de­pen­dent on it,” said Fred­erik to his new bride, Tas­ma­nian-born Mary Don­ald­son, with her fa­ther look­ing on and his own par­ents Queen Mar­grethe II and Prince

Hen­rik hang­ing on ev­ery word.

The heir to the Dan­ish throne went on to ad­mit his world was “of­ten lonely” un­til Mary walked into it. He said he had been crav­ing in­de­pen­dence and look­ing for free­dom but with Mary now by his side he couldn’t wait to em­brace “re­spon­si­bil­ity, trust and shar­ing”. Mary gave him “se­cu­rity, joy and hap­pi­ness” and now all his doubts had “melted away”. To­gether they would be an un­stop­pable force and for Fred­erik, “A new world is born again with the light of a new day.”

You could al­most hear the Danes heave a uni­fied sigh of relief.

Fred­erik had bravely lifted the lid on the empti­ness of his life to date and the pres­sures of ex­pec­ta­tion that had weighed heav­ily on his shoul­ders, but – look­ing like the cat that had got the cream – with Mary he had not only found an in­cred­i­ble love, he had seen the light and was ready to take his place in the Dan­ish court.

Ear­lier, Mary had been given a sense of the bur­den of duty that was com­ing her way but looked too caught up in the fairy­tale to take it all in. In his

ser­mon dur­ing a wed­ding ser­vice watched by the whole Dan­ish na­tion – and much of Aus­tralia – the Bishop of Copen­hagen, Erik Nor­mann Svend­sen, ham­mered home the ex­pec­ta­tions on this shiny new cou­ple. He said he was “pleased you have found each other”, but then added: “A royal cou­ple does not be­long solely to each other, but to all of us. We feel it and you know it. Great as­sign­ments and many obli­ga­tions await you, that will con­tinue the Dan­ish monar­chy and thereby the Dan­ish so­cial struc­ture. It is of cru­cial im­por­tance that this is main­tained and re­newed at a time marked by in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and glob­al­i­sa­tion.” Wow, wel­come to Copen­hagen, Mary!

But from what we now know of Mary, I sus­pect the cleric’s preach­ing wouldn’t have fazed her any­way. De­spite Fred­erik’s protes­ta­tions of love at first sight, their ro­mance de­vel­oped in a slow and mea­sured way over four years. The road from ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive to Crown Princess wasn’t overnight but con­sid­ered by both sides. Mary was def­i­nitely ready to step up, and to­gether she and Fred­erik were set to take on Den­mark.

Priv­i­lege and palaces

Fred­erik, of course, came from a world of priv­i­lege and palaces, and in his 20s his prince’s play­ground of fast cars, ad­ven­ture sports and beau­ti­ful women raised eye­brows not just around state and royal cor­ri­dors but with the Dan­ish peo­ple.

This tiny pros­per­ous na­tion on the south­ern­most tip of Scan­di­navia boasts a monar­chy that is more than 1000 years old – one of the old­est in the world – and much is ex­pected of the royal fam­ily. The Royal House is not just a han­gover from an an­cient world of crowns and scep­tres, it is very much part of the na­tion’s iden­tity, work­ing hand in hand with gov­ern­ment as a sym­bol of sta­bil­ity and re­spect. Ev­ery year the Queen’s New Year’s Eve speeches give ma­ter­nal ad­vice to her peo­ple, lead­ing the way on is­sues from refugees to fis­cal pol­icy. Could Fred­erik re­ally step into his mother’s shoes?

In a re­veal­ing new bi­og­ra­phy of Crown Prince Fred­erik, Un­der the Beam, re­leased to co­in­cide with the royal’s re­cent 50th birth­day, au­thor Jens Andersen spent hours talk­ing to the Prince and those close to him. Here the story of boy to act­ing-out adult to revered royal is charted, and Fred­erik is bru­tally hon­est about his mis­takes and mis­giv­ings.

He even al­lows Andersen to re­count the in­fa­mous New Year’s Eve in 1991 when Fred­erik’s then-girl­friend, model Malou Aa­mund, was ar­rested and taken to the po­lice sta­tion on a drink-driv­ing charge. She had been be­hind the wheel of the Crown Prince’s car and he in­sisted on ac­com­pa­ny­ing her to the sta­tion, where the royal was im­me­di­ately recog­nised, ig­nit­ing a me­dia storm.

“The months af­ter that sure wasn’t the most cool pe­riod. I wasn’t at all proud and felt that each time I drove through the coun­try in my car, that every­one I passed could point me out,” Fred­erik con­fesses to Andersen.

The Crown Prince was def­i­nitely smart­ing and a lit­tle thin-skinned, but

he wasn’t far from the mark. At this time the me­dia reg­u­larly de­bated the is­sue of Fred­erik’s suit­abil­ity as heir, sug­gest­ing his younger brother, the more se­ri­ous Prince Joachim, might do a bet­ter job.

Fast for­ward to 2018. Crown Prince Fred­erik, fa­ther of four – and fol­low­ing Prince Hen­rik’s death in Fe­bru­ary, the new pa­tri­arch of the na­tion – is proudly cel­e­brat­ing his 50th birth­day, lead­ing his peo­ple on a 50km five-city run, and the trans­for­ma­tion is pal­pa­ble. “He has changed a lot,” says Dan­ish aca­demic and royal com­men­ta­tor Lars Hovbakke SØrensen. “Be­fore he met Mary, he was very much in doubt about his role as a crown prince. But she has taught him a lot, and there­fore to­day he is much more ready to take over the throne, when Queen Mar­grethe II dies, than be­fore.”

The Mary fac­tor and fa­ther­hood

Helle Bill Mad­sen, a jour­nal­ist at Den­mark’s pop­u­lar weekly mag­a­zine, Her&Nu and sea­soned royal watcher, agrees, say­ing Danes im­me­di­ately warmed to Mary. It seem­ingly mat­tered not a jot that Mary was a for­eigner, she had pulled Fred­erik out of his re­bel­lious funk, se­cured a fu­ture for the monar­chy as the mother of four beau­ti­ful chil­dren and, through her own work in the realms of bul­ly­ing, women’s rights and men­tal health, had proved a role model for Danes and for Fred­erik.

“There is no doubt that Mary has had a very pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on Fred­erik,” says Mad­sen. “He has grown by her side and has gained more con­fi­dence in him­self and in his role as a king-to-be. She has pro­vided him with an heir to the throne and three other beau­ti­ful chil­dren – a grand fi­nale with the twins! And Crown Prince Fred­erik has a great sup­port and in­spi­ra­tion in Mary. With Mary by his side he has be­come more ex­tro­verted, his pub­lic speeches have im­proved and he is look­ing more con­fi­dent in him­self.”

One area that is key in Andersen’s bi­og­ra­phy is how ill-pre­pared Fred­erik felt to take on the man­tle of heir ap­par­ent. While he loved and re­spected his par­ents, he didn’t feel they gave him enough guid­ance and ex­pla­na­tion of the road ahead. It’s some­thing

Fred­erik tells Andersen he has al­ready ad­dressed with his own chil­dren.

“When our chil­dren to­day ask: ‘Why do we have to do that?’, I say: ‘Now lis­ten, in this way we are dif­fer­ent, be­cause, af­ter all, we are who we are. We have a ti­tle.’ I don’t feel com­fort­able about say­ing that. In my own child­hood our par­ents weren’t par­tic­u­larly good at it. They were sort of res­trained, hes­i­tant and couldn’t

re­ally fig­ure out how to tell us. It was a big mi­nus. It made me in­se­cure and, at times, shy and awk­ward, and later on I got beat up for that by the press, be­cause I acted odd.”

Prince Hen­rik was a tra­di­tional and rather strict pa­tri­arch, and even be­fore he met Mary, Crown Prince Fred­erik felt that he wanted to be dif­fer­ent in his ap­proach to fa­ther­hood, while still stand­ing by the im­pec­ca­ble man­ners his fa­ther in­stilled in him, which he con­fesses he’s a stick­ler for.

“My chil­dren should have a more present up­bring­ing than the one I had had my­self,” he tells Andersen, and also talks about be­ing in­spired by his brother Prince Joachim’s warm con­nec­tion with his own son Niko­lai, now 18, which in many ways to Fred­erik felt new for a royal fa­ther-son re­la­tion­ship.

Fred­erik loves spend­ing time with his four chil­dren – el­dest Prince Chris­tian, 12, Princess Is­abella, 11, and seven-year-old twins Prince Vin­cent and Princess Josephine – and in her speech at her hus­band’s 50th birth­day gala din­ner, Mary con­fessed the sib­lings all de­scribe their fa­ther

“as sweet, fun, won­der­ful, wise, brave, help­ful, cool and hand­some.

“They know noth­ing bet­ter than be­ing to­gether with you. It is not a mat­ter of what you do to­gether, but that you are to­gether,” she said. “You al­low your­self to be car­ried away by our chil­dren. You eas­ily find your in­ner child and your chil­dren love it when that side of you takes over.”

Mary also talked of how proud she is of Fred­erik’s jour­ney. “It takes courage – and time – to find one­self,” she said. “You have done so and you con­tinue to do so. You have trod your own path since you were a very young child, de­spite the fact that your course in life had been charted in many ways, and at times you en­coun­tered op­po­si­tion and par­tic­u­lar ex­pec­ta­tions along the way.

“You have al­ways pushed the bound­aries and… your pas­sion has been your com­pass. You have lived by your fa­ther’s ap­proach to life: that in the un­con­ven­tional and in the sur­pris­ing there is of­ten a hid­den treasure.”

Mary, too, feels she has found that treasure with her Prince. “It was dur­ing my first visit to Den­mark where we had cel­e­brated our first

New Year’s to­gether,” she re­called dur­ing her speech. “I was sit­ting on the couch in your liv­ing room when you said that you should get ready for din­ner… At that time, I re­ally didn’t know so much about that part of your world. So, I didn’t give it much thought.

“You left the room, as the man I knew, and came back in full gala uni­form. And if I had known Dan­ish at the time, I would prob­a­bly have thought to my­self, ‘aij, hvor har jeg scoret over evne’ (wow – I’ve re­ally scored above my league).

“It was sud­denly a very dif­fer­ent im­age of you that was new to me. Deeply im­pres­sive and daunt­ing at the same time. But your eyes and your smile were the same. Gala or not.”

Mary said the se­cret to their suc­cess as a cou­ple is un­der­stand­ing their dif­fer­ences as well as their sim­i­lar­i­ties, and al­low­ing each other to grow as in­di­vid­u­als. “We have be­come so close by giv­ing each other space.

And you, in par­tic­u­lar, have sup­ported me in find­ing a foothold and my way in the world that was yours and is now ours,” she said.

What­ever they are do­ing, it is work­ing. In the most re­cent pop­u­lar­ity sur­vey in 2017, sup­port for the

Dan­ish monar­chy in­creased from 65 per cent to 70 per cent and Crown Princess Mary was voted the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar royal.

As for what’s next for Mary and Fred­erik, it is still con­sid­ered highly un­likely that Queen Mar­grethe II will be hand­ing over her king­dom to the Crown Prince Cou­ple any time soon, but when she does there’s no ques­tion she and Den­mark feel the coun­try will be in very safe hands.

“Fred­erik, I have looked for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing you on your 50th birth­day,” the Queen, Fred­erik’s mother an­nounced in her speech at the gala. “You are, as they say, in the mid­dle of your life. You have achieved much and you have ex­pe­ri­enced much, and dur­ing these days you have ex­pe­ri­enced how all of Den­mark sup­ports you and takes plea­sure in your work. You bring en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm to all that you do and it makes an im­pact wher­ever you go.” AWW

Crown Princess MARY

Grow­ing up, Fred­erik felt his par­ents (above, in 1973, and left, in 1980) didn’t pre­pare him and his brother Joachim (be­low) ad­e­quately for royal du­ties. But meet­ing Mary (be­low left, at their 2003 en­gage­ment) helped him step up.

Mary (above) is rev­el­ling in her role of rais­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of Dan­ish roy­als at Amalien­borg Palace (right), and has the full sup­port of her mother-in-law, Queen Mar­grethe II (above).

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