Tuesday 30 May 2006

Danish royal roundup # 5

His Royal Highness Prince Joachim of Denmark is visiting San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles from May 31st - June 5th, 2006.

Prince Joachim starts his visit on the west coast in the San Francisco area where he opens the Innovation Center Denmark in Silicon Valley. During Prince Joachim’s visit to Silicon Valley, a number of Danish high-tech companies in the area will be highlighted. Prince Joachim will also attend a lunch celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Danish American Chamber of Commerce in Northern California. Prince Joachim is also visiting the Mondavi Vineyards in the Napa Valley during his stay in the Bay Area.

Prince Joachim continues his journey on the west coast to Los Angeles. In his capacity as Festival Patron, Prince Joachim is opening the first Danish film festival in Los Angeles - "Danish Film. Dogme95 Style" (http://www.dkfilmfestla.com/). Prince Joachim is also the guest of honor at the centennial celebrations of the Danish church in Yorba Linda. During his time in Los Angeles Prince Joachim is also meeting with local representatives of Danish businesses in the area.

The Danish Ambassador to the US, Friis Arne Petersen, will be accompanying Prince Joachim for the duration of the visit.

Embassy of Denmark, Washington D.C. 'His Royal Highness Prince Joachim Visits California
Danish Film Fest
About Dogme 95

On Monday May 22 Crown Prince Frederik attended a private talk given by ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell. As far as we can discover there are no photographs taken at this event so we present screencaps from the DR1 (Danish TV) report which appeared on the news. Crown Prince Frederik has an MA in political science from Århus University and wrote his final paper on the foreign policy of the Baltic States. Frederik lectures on international relations at the defence force academy, however there are no public statements as to how extensive his lecturing and collegial commitments continue to be.

Børsen Online
Colin Powell

A while ago now, but Crown Prince Frederik did the honours and awarded students at the Graduate Business Conference at Copenhagen City Hall on 7 April 2006.

Graduate Business Conference
Copenhagen Business School
Awards Banquet at Copenhagen Town Hall

Some photos from the last day of the state visit to Greece. Queen Margrethe was able to enjoy one of her favourite things: antiquities. The Queen is a bit of an amateur archeologist, so seeing Greek antiquities was right up her alley.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, looks at antiquities in Thessaloniki's Byzantine Museum in northern Greece on Friday, May 26, 2006, with museum director Anastasia Tourta.

Queen Margrethe II looks at the golden wreath and casket, or larnax, which contained the remains of King Philip II of Macedonia, during a visit to the museum at ancient Vergina, in northern Greece.

The Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir, has just returned from a private visit to Copenhagen and she unexpectedly caught up with Crown Princess Mary while she was there. The Sydney Morning Herald reported in a little snippet on May 28 that Professor Bashir called the palace and was put straight through to Mary, who promptly invited the Governor to lunch. Professor Bashir was the host and also a guest of several events and organisations last year when Mary was in Sydney.

Finally for this roundup, we don't usually like to dignify too much of the tabloid view of the world, but as there's been quite a few tabloid inches and TV pickup of the Mary/Imelda story in Australia via Denmark, we thought we should address it.

We are interested in presenting Danish royal news in a straightforward way with the tabloid fantasies sorted out for the record. Most of the time newspapers and magazines, including tabloids, give us the news we use here on this blog. We don't have any 'inside' information but we do like to cut through some of the tabloid concoctions and find the facts.

This is a sample of the various reports which appeared in Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd newspapers around Australia and there were also several television reports repeating the same stuff. From The Australian:

Princess Mary 'Nordic Imelda'
May 27, 2006
PRINCESS Mary has reportedly been dubbed a "Nordic Imelda Marcos" by Danish press for her spending habits.
News Ltd newspapers report the Australian-born princess earned the tag after an audit of 2005 royal finances revealed Mary and Crown Prince Frederick (sic) spent $2500 a day on clothes, shoes and furniture.
According to the report the royal couple spent $933,000 on private expenses last year.
Their private spending was cited in the audit as being the key reason why they spent $167,000 over their $3.4 million annual budget.
One unnamed commentator is quoted as saying when Mary flashes her credit card "it starts glowing pretty quickly".
The couple's entertaining band party bill came to $212,000 while magazines and books set them back a further $16,000, the report said.

Also, another version at News.com:
Princess Mary 'Nordic Imelda'
The Copenhagen Post
ninemsn.com.au 'Danish royals' chef quits in disgust'

In general there are three different issues in the current stories about the Danish royal family: 1) Mary's spending, 2) the annual report of the Danish court, and 3) the resignation of the chef Takashi Kondo who has worked for Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik for 25 years.

First, the claim Mary is the 'Nordic Imelda' comes out of a story by Ekstra Bladet 'Mary og Frede solder for 4 mio. om året'. This newspaper is a sensationalist newspaper currently carrying on a bit of a campaign against the royal family. The last attack was on Princess Alexandra and her appanage and spending and this week it was targeting Mary (and her shoes as a symbol of her excessive spending). This financial information supposedly comes from the recently released 2005 Annual Report and the tabloid Ekstra Bladet has worked up these stories over the past month by fabricating their own version. We don't know how many shoes Mary has (it is not in the annual report) but we can say, yes, she does have some nice shoes which she wears to do her 'job' as crown princess. These sort of campaigns by tabloids is to sell papers and is not really about truthful reporting.

See Wikipedia on Ekstra Bladet

To the 2005 Annual Report of the Danish Royal Court, we already reported on this a month ago in Danish royal roundup # 3. The report is the financial statement of the royal court and the whole household. It is not a statement of the personal finances of members of the royal family. Nowhere in the report itself is there any detail about any spending by Mary in particular or any other member of the royal family. All the expenses mentioned are those of the household, ie: payment of staff, expenses for state events and running costs of court offices, etc. Ekstra Bladet has literally made up the figures and some sections of the tabloid media in Australia have followed.

Now to chef Takashi Kondo and his resignation and obvious disappointment at the changes introduced in the running of the royal household. The court has a new agreement in place about working hours in which the staff have a more fixed work schedule. This has been a challenge to the goodwill of staff, perhaps because they have previously worked more flexibly to accommodate the odd hours of court life. Chef Kondo has expressed his displeasure with the changes and it is very easy to understand his disappointment after serving the Queen and Prince Henrik and their guests for 25 years. No doubt, like all organisations, the Danish court must make economies to meet their budgets. Perhaps staff formerly considered it a kind of honour to work for the royal family and didn't quibble over extra time spent at work for not very good salaries. For some longstanding staff the adjustment to new working conditions (fixed hours and reasonable rates of pay) might be more difficult than for new younger workers who expect such workplace conditions as a matter of course.

Okay, to get the annual report straight. The Danish court has balanced its accounts for 2005, following a deficit in 2004, largely a consequence of the crown princely wedding, which had been budgeted for. Queen Margrethe, Prince Henrik, Prince Joachim and Princess Benedikte all underspent. Princess Alexandra's budget was balanced. The Crown Prince household overspent their budget by 5% which has been paid for Crown Prince Frederik from his own funds. The Crown Prince Couple have been expanding their staff with increased duties and the birth of Prince Christian. For the record Crown Princess Mary receives the second lowest salary/appanage in the royal family with only Princess Benedikte receiving less. And, for emphasis, there is no detail in the Annual Report about any of the expenses being directly attributable to Mary.

We are not so much defending the royal family, because of course theirs is a good life compared to the vast majority of the people on this planet. But we do like truthful reporting and reject the kind of tabloid fiction some Danish and Australian media have engaged in during the last week.

(Many thanks to Thor, Muhler, Leonie, gudinde, camelot and trippc for explanatory enlightenment)

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