Thursday 22 May 2008

Joachim & Marie: Jyllands Posten interview

Photos © Stine Larsen/Jyllands Posten

Jyllands Posten has published a long interview with the bride and groom in advance of their wedding on Saturday. A (rough!) translation follows:

They each walk the walk of happiness
by Else Boelskifte

He is divorced and she is a child of divorced parents. They hope to use these experiences positively in their next marriage. Marie Cavallier has already benefited through this experience in her relationship with her fiancée’s children Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix. The wedding will be on Saturday May 24th in Møgeltønder Church.

…In the dark red summer living room in Schackenborg in the Southern Jutlandic marsh [Marie’s] bichon frisé "Apple" is playing with Prince Joachim's seven month old cocker spaniel Winston. Winston is a little more hesitating and watchful, but so much a puppy that he gladly throws himself into a healthy wrestle with his new playmate. The dogs tumble in the background, while the Prince and his French fiancée have taken spots on one of the blue sofas. The walls are rust red and adorned with family portraits. Prince Henrik is in a central place … Prince Joachim’s in full-dress uniform in the background and Thomas Kluge's raw portrait of the Queen's face is on the wall beside the wood burner. Prince Joachim's sons Nikolai and Felix are also there in the shape of sculptor Hanne Varming's bronze sculptures of their heads from when they were each about one year old.

"I love this room," Marie Cavallier says in the interview language for the day, English. On the other hand it shines through that certain changes in the arrangement are to be expected in the castle's rooms, when she becomes the lady of the house after the wedding on May 24th. The place shows signs that a man has lived here for some years, she thinks. Prince Joachim acknowledges it and looks forward to his future wife bringing a breath of fresh air to the arrangement of the place all round.

The two met each other the first time in the autumn of 2002 at a hunting party in Denmark through a shared acquaintance. Who that was they don’t want to say. "It was completely accidental. We found out we were the only ones who spoke French and got into conversation in that way," Prince Joachim says. He is conscious of his French family and by his own admission he is more French-minded than his big brother Crown Prince Frederik. After the hunting party he and Marie Cavallier had contact once or twice until he visited her in 2005 after his divorce from Princess Alexandra. "I was in Paris, and I knew that Marie often went on family visits there. I took the chance and contacted her to find out if she was in town, because if so, I wanted to invite her out," he says. She was in town and she said yes please.

Marie Cavallier and Prince Joachim fell in love. Two turbulent years went by, with a pause to consider her feelings along the way from Marie Cavallier's side. The meeting with a very curious Danish press in the spring of 2006 had taken her by surprise, and she was worried about whether she could live up to Prince Joachim's special position as member of the Royal Family.

What caused you to continue the relationship again?

"It was what he did," she says with a laugh over the answer. She had in the meantime realised that she perhaps would not meet a man again who she felt so strongly for. "Joachim persuaded me and promised to look after me. I am independent of character and not used to being in the public limelight. It was difficult, but he calmed me and assured me about his feelings for me. That convinced me," she says.

Apart from marrying into a fairly special family which means a life of both privileges and restrictions, she gets a man who is a father of two and has a divorce behind him. Marie Cavallier is herself a child of divorced parents. Her parents separated from each other when she was 12 years old and she went with her mother from Paris to her mother's new partner in Geneva. The 12-year-old girl was unhappy about the divorce and didn't like having to choose between her parents. The solution was to go to the Swiss boarding school Beau Soleil in the Alps near Montreux. Here skiing is the obvious sport and Marie Cavallier is a very competent skier. Those skills opened up the possibility to look at Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix more closely when the children were with her and Prince Joachim on ski holiday in February last year. They were glad to have their own private instructor.

Prince Joachim and Countess Alexandra have shared custody of the children, who often visit Schackenborg. Their toys are stowed in a row of plaited baskets in the TV room, which is in front of the summer living room. Can the experiences from a divorce and as a child of divorced parents be used to avoid pitfalls in a new relationship? "It has helped in my relationship with Nikolai and Felix that I myself have been in their situation. I think that I can see their situationbetter than one who hasn’t experienced separation and divorce," she says, and adds with a smile "It is the first time I see anything at all positive in connection with a divorce."

Prince Joachim says about his own experiences: "They learn something every day and some days more than others, and in the course of time they consider things more. I do not want to say that I had suddenly become afraid to be married again, but I considered it more carefully than when I was younger. It is a well known fact that Marie and I have had ups and downs. We both needed time to find out whether we were right for each other. Whether we were inseparable," he says.

Would you like to have children?

That Marie Cavallier and his sons got on well together was a crucial point for Prince Joachim. Both she with them and they with her.

She breaks in: "What they think about me is more important than inversely. They haven't asked to be in this situation they are in, so it's up to me to take more care," she says.

The fact that from the beginning it well went with the boys made Prince Joachim more certain that Marie Cavallier was the right one for him. "Such a thing isn't easy to predict, but luckily I could sense trust, pleasure and love between Marie and the boys," he says. Marie says spontaneously: "They are so sweet. They are really, really sweet." She and Prince Joachim would like to have children themselves and Schackenborg is to be a home again. Indeed, Schackenborg is to be the "home" where Marie will register her national address.

Prince Joachim and Princess Marie will not be entirely full time residents on the Southern Jutlandic estate. About twice a month they will make the trip to Copenhagen and Prince Joachim's apartment at Amalienborg to those duties and pleasures of the capital, he estimates. The city woman Marie Cavallier is well satisfied with this even though she maintains that she likes country life. "We get the best of two worlds together," she maintains.

The future princess stopped working at her stepfather Christian Grassiot's finance company in Geneva after the New Year. In recent months she has commuted between her apartment in Geneva and Denmark. "I haven't seriously started to learn Danish, because the language teachers are in Copenhagen, and at the moment we are mostly here. It must come when I have moved in. Right now I read books about Denmark's history in English and French, and then I have had meetings with Bishop Erik Norman Svendsen, who is to marry us," she says.

Marie Cavallier is christened and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. Before the wedding she has converted to the Lutheran Evangelical Church. It isn't a formal demand compared with the entitlement about who inherits the Danish throne. It is only the Danish regent who doesn't have freedom of religion and must belong to the Lutheran Evangelical Church. It's tradition in the royal house from many generations back however that partners belong to the church and its beliefs for members of the royal family.

Marie Cavallier's beloved grandmother, with the pet name Mamita, is 90 years old and is a practising Catholic, and also a golfer still, by the way. She became a little offended when she heard that her grandchild had to change religious persuasion. "But we have talked about it, and she understands me now.” She says that when I am happy, then she is too," Marie Cavallier says.

Prince Joachim asked for Marie’s grandmother's acceptance of his proposal and then next he asked Marie Cavallier's father followed by her mother's permission before he knelt down before his chosen one during a holiday in Turkey last summer.

The Lutheran faith pleases the future princess. "It is more liberal and not so strict, and it suits me well. I am honoured about joining the royal family and realised that converting is the least I could do," she says. The profession of faith is the same in the national [Danish] church as it is for the Catholic Church and no rituals disappear in the conversion. One is really taken in hand in the Danish national church by a priest who…guides you through it. The priest has to make sure the wish to be admitted to the church is genuine and sincere. It's Royal Confessionarius, Bishop Erik Norman Svendsen, who has had that task, and ahead of the wedding he will inform Minister Anne Nielsen Krogh in Møgeltønder, as priest in the parish where Marie Cavallier will get her national register address.

Integration minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech (V) has this month presented a Bill, which makes Marie Cavallier a Danish citizen when she marries. Only Enhedslisten is against this because the party is against the special treatment of royalty on principal.

Large family wedding

The wedding dress is underway but Marie Cavallier doesn't want to reveal details about the cut and designer. "A wedding dress is to be a surprise," she says. Her mother Françoise Grassiot is diligently participating in the wedding preparations. She and Marie Cavallier have expressed an opinion on the flower decorations in the church and later at the wedding party, and also including the wedding bouquet. "The flower arranger says that in Denmark the bridegroom used to bring the wedding bouquet. That was something we didn't know," she says. The groom conveys that he agrees with his the fiancée and his future mother-in-law’s choice.

The wedding at the church is set for 5pm so that the guests don’t need to dress again during proceedings, since they are quite spread out in accommodation in southern Jutland.

After that there is reception at the Ecco Centre in Bredebro and finally dinner at Schackenborg.

A small intimate family reunion will not happen, but rather, it will be a large family reunion, because this is the custom in Marie Cavallier's family and she'd like to share the experience with its many members. She has four brothers, two of whom are older than her from her mother's first marriage and two younger brothers from her father's second marriage, which ended in divorce. "I do not call them half brothers. They are my brothers and I am very happy to have all four of them. I do not see them so often, but we always pass the time nicely when we are together," she says.

She considers herself to be Parisienne, even though she has gone to a Swiss boarding school and afterwards spent six years in Boston and New York. Her father lives in Paris, where he is a manager in the advertising industry.

Marie Cavallier hasn't given an opinion on which kinds of organisations she might be a patron for, but it will go with her coming status as a royal highness. [“I will have to see how I will fit in with Prince Joachim’s.] We can become a real team," she says and looks at her the fiancée. That’s fine with Prince Joachim. "Then you can take care of the things while I am on holiday," he says with a laugh which provokes a tap from her hand. He does however emphasise that he happily sees Marie Cavallier as more than a spectator and a participant in the [estate] company. Schackenborg is included in a co-operative for marketing goods and the green points "The 5 Gaarde", which must be said to be a modest expression, as they include the estates of Wedellsborg on Vestfyn, Frijsenborg ved Hammel, Constantinsborg and Gyllingnæs Godser in Århus-kanten as well as Schackenborg…Schackenborg contributes potatoes, flour, beef among other things so far, but the assortment is constantly expanded in "The 5 Gaarde". "Agriculture will fill more of my time in future. As my nephew and niece, Prince Christian and Princess Isabella grow up, my role will be less," he suggests.

Prince Joachim is number four right now in the order of inheritance of the throne and will move downwards as Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary have more children.

Country life is also amenable for the hunt and that pleases Marie Cavallier a lot. Being in the hunt world lead to the meeting with her fiancée …and she is familiar with it from her childhood. "My father is an eager hunter, and I love the atmosphere about the hunt, nature and good company," she says. Prince Joachim is one of Denmark's 160,000 hunters, which he defends with quick assurances about the hunt's utility value for nature and animal life. He tries to explain this in his statements to some sections of the press, but there are misunderstandings or distortions which can give offence he says.

The press' no-holds-barred style

In the fragile beginning of his and Marie Cavallier's acquaintance, Danish tourists secretly photographed them during a visit in Avignon in 2005 and sold the pictures to Se og Hør. At the beginning of March this year somebody put out an amateur video on the net, done without the knowledge of Joachim and his group of friends during a visit at the bar Code in Copenhagen. Cell phones with built-in still and video cameras have given private life a new dimension of unrest.

Does it cause you to desist from going on the errands or making other precautions against paparazzi recordings?

"No, I refuse to let myself be dictated by such behaviour. It'd be the same as conceding to terrorism. I have grown up being known and have got used to people looking at [me], maybe they ask politely whether they may take a snapshot for their private album, but in the last five years the situation has changed dramatically. I do not know what comes first, the state of the media or the condition of some human beings. It's admittedly allowed to photograph in publicly accessible places, but there is a big grey zone between what is considerate behaviour and what is an illegal invasion of privacy. It has become a risk we must take account of when we go out," he says.

"Now people no longer just take photos for personal use, some people reproduce them in the hope they will make money selling them and/or to damage people," says the prince.

"It is difficult to say how and when this point of view to take photos of others changed, but there are indeed parts of the press who exploit it fully," he says.

After an honest-minded début with unusual openness in the Danish press in the spring of 2006, Marie Cavallier has learned the lesson. "I know how the press works now. I didn't at the time. We chose to invite friends home instead of going to restaurants [because of this]. It's a little frightening but I am not so nervous as I was. I will get used to it enough in the course of time," she says.

The couple has to go on a honeymoon trip of course, and it's Prince Joachim who is making the plans. It's a secret still, and for the bride also.

The prince hopes it won’t be too hard to keep it one hundred percent secret…
But I wonder if he can create a clever diversion in connection with the departure?

Photos © Stine Larsen/Jyllands Posten

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home