Danish Royal Watchers

Wednesday 30 August 2006

Happy 60th Queen Anne-Marie!

At home in London, but ready to return to Greece.

Happy 60th birthday Queen Anne-Marie!
B.T. reports Queen Anne-Marie will celebrate her 60th birthday in Greece with her close and extended family. Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik will travel to Greece and so will Princess Benedikte and her family, so the three Danish royal sisters will be together for this celebration. Queen Anne-Marie's life has been centred on her Danish childhood and then marriage to ex-King Constantine II who became king of Greece in 1964 at the age of 23. The family went into exile after a military coup in 1967. Issues surrounding ex-King Constantine are still controversial in Greece, but surveys about Anne-Marie suggest she is a popular figure in her own right.

Recently Queen Anne-Marie gave an extended interview to Danish weekly Billed Bladet (No.31 2006) in which she discussed a wide-range of issues. Anne-Marie says she and her family speak a mixture of English and Greek, that she and Constantine plan to move to Greece permanently and that she wants to be buried in Greece. Anne-Marie admits to dying her hair as she can't face being grey yet, but this is the only thing about her which is fake! Anne-Marie also made some comments about Frederik and Mary, about how happy they are together and what a great person Mary is. She talked about her children and grandchildren, with details about names/nick names and about giving up the house in London to return to Greece. Anne-Marie also said Queen Margrethe is the oracle of the family and talked about how wonderful it is that the family can still get together at Graasten and on other occasions.

The Greek Royal Family homepage
Greek Royal Family profiles
The Anna Maria Foundation

History of the Greek Royal Family by Lisa May Davidson on Christine's Royalty.net
Wikipedia on Constantine II of Greece

King Konstantinos and Queen Anna-Maria in Athens, Greece 18 September 1964:
Greek wedding
links to contents for Greek wedding
How Constantine and Anne-Marie met
A Secret Engagement/Official Engagement
The Engagement Ball
Royal Concert
Pre-Wedding Ball, Athens
The Wedding Ceremony
Procession to the Athens Royal Palace
Official Photos
links to contents for Greek wedding

Royals at the Olympics:
A Mixed Welcome for Greece's Ex-King
from Deutsche Welle

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Tuesday 29 August 2006

Mary visits Vollsmose

Today Crown Princess Mary has visited Vollsmose, a multi-ethnic part of Odense. Mary has spent an 'ordinary working day' in Vollsmose to bring some light to the life situations of the people in this area which has had a troubled reputation in recent times. The visit has been a happy occasion with many local residents turning out to greet Mary. There has been a strong media contingent following Mary in Vollsmose, including Turkish CNN, an Australian magazine and Danish media.

You can check photos here in the Fyens Stiftstidende photo gallery
Also check the TV2/FYN photo gallery.

Added: DR.dk photo gallery (this has the most and widest selection of photos)

ADDED: Princess Mary shows she's got the maternal touch in Hello! magazine

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported:
Danish students 'crown' Princess Mary
August 29, 2006 - 9:54PM

Students gave a cardboard crown to Australian-born Crown Princess Mary as she met with residents of one of Denmark's best known immigrant neighbourhoods.
Resident Leyla Haji Yusuf from Somalia and Odense mayor Jan Boye guided the popular princess as she walked and rode a horse-drawn carriage through Vollsmose, a suburb west of Odense, Denmark's third-largest city.
The visit was organised at Mary's request. She wanted to meet residents in a less formal way than two years ago when she and her husband, Crown Prince Frederik, toured the city and stopped by the neighbourhood, 160 kilometres west of Copenhagen.
More than 60 per cent of Vollsmose's 10,000 residents are foreign-born, and many receive welfare benefits.
Mary stopped several times to shake hands and talk with residents.
Students at a school named for Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, a native of Odense, had made cardboard crowns and gave one to Mary, who asked whether they also had one for her husband, Danish TV2 reported.
The 34-year-old princess had lunch with the Jomaa family, of Palestinian origin.
Kalil Jomaa and his wife Jawaher Othman who fled to Denmark in 1990 from Lebanon, served kebabs, falafel, humus, among other Middle Eastern delicacies. All of their seven children were present at the lunch on the sixth floor of the housing block where they live.
After lunch, Mary was to visit a community house chiefly used by immigrant women and their children and a cafe, operated by a Christian church, where Arab men gather.
At the end of the visit, Mary will meet briefly with local dignitaries and MPs, Christian and Muslim clerics and social workers.

Same report also at ninemsn
Click here for Jyllands-Posten netavisen video clip (2 mins 30 secs)
DR.dk online report on the visit. It is in Danish but has photos and a map which shows the progress of the various places Mary was shown.
TV 2 video clip (2 mins)
TV2/FYN video clip (29 secs)
B.T. (article in Danish) says Mary was received very enthusiasically in Vollsmose amidst a lot of good humour. Mary had many to meet during the day-long packed program so she went along at a cracking pace. Mary visited the H.C. Andersen School which has 400 pupils and they sang a welcoming song for her and presented her with crowns for herself, Frederik and Christian. Mary was told that Vollsmose has 79 nationalities living in the area. At the end of the busy schedule Mary finally had a meal with the Jomaa family.

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Happy birthday Nikolai!

Today is the seventh birthday of Prince Nikolai, so lots of happy birthday wishes for him! Nikolai has had a busy summer but has already started back at Krebs School in Copenhagen. Meanwhile he played in the garden with his brother Felix and the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, for some birthday photos.


Monday 28 August 2006

An anticipated visit to Vollsmose

The last time Mary, with Frederik, was in Vollsmose was in July 2004 during their summer tour of Denmark following their wedding. This visit to Vollsmose will be very different, but Mary's popularity in Vollsmose was cemented during this visit two years ago.

A heads up for tomorrow. The problems of immigrants and refugees is very complex worldwide and there is no doubt one royal visit will not solve it all, but it is good to shine a light where social problems are being tackled. Crown Princess Mary is visiting the Odense suburb of Vollsmose to highlight the positive aspects of life in an area with a history of high crime and social problems. Mary and Frederik have been to this area before: on the summer cruise around Denmark after their wedding in 2004, but this visit is to see how Vollsmose gets on in day-to-day ways. Mary has been to Odense on many other occasions too, most recently to the Flower Festival last week. The idea is Mary's visit should be on an ordinary working day. A full schedule of meetings and visits has been organised and many Vollsmose locals are at the ready for their day with Mary so they can show off the good aspects of life in their neighbourhood.

Little Fatima Abdol Hamid, left, is at the ready to curtsy and present a bouquet to Mary to welcome her to Vollsmose says B.T.

There is a history of high crime in Vollsmose and the locals are keen to show there is another side to life in the area to break down stereotyped views. Mary will be visiting a number of areas in Vollsmose and is lunching with a local family who are originally Palestinian. The Jomaa family, right, say they are proud and not at all nervous about hosting the Crown Princess. Jawaher Othman, the mother of the household, is used to cooking for many as she has cooked at her kids' local high school. Jawaher's husband Kalil Jomaa confirms his wife is a very good cook and that Crown Princess Mary should look forward to lunch at the Jomaa home. Aseem Jomaa has been in the spotlight before, when he collaborated as a member of his rap band with some in the Odense Symphony Orchestra to create the Symphony of Vollsmose.

Right, 41-year-old Somali refugee and mother of four, Leyla Haji Yusuf will show Mary around Vollsmose. Leyla works as a health and social worker.

After Odense Mayor Jan Boye welcomes Mary, she will be guided by local woman Leyla Haji Yusuf who will take Mary around Vollsmose. During the morning they will visit a local school, the H.C. Anderson School, a mother and baby health centre, a women's project for self-supporting independence through training and jobs (in this case hairdressing) and a reception at Vollsmose Church, which is known for its diversity of members. A late lunch with the Jomaa family will follow.

In this article in Fyens Stiftstidende (in Danish) various expert commentators are asked what it means to Vollsmose to have Crown Princess Mary visit. All agree it is an acknowledgement and recognition, or respect, for an area which is often associated with problems by the wider Danish community. Specifically it puts Vollsmose in a new light for other residents of Odense because Mary is making a special effort to go to this one suburb in Odense which has suffered because of its reputation. One of the experts says people might think, "What is cool to Mary about Vollsmose is also cool to us" because of her popularity. Mary's visit will focus attention on the good works of residents, employees and project staff who are making a difference in Vollsmose. Through Mary's visit focusing on the positive developments in Vollsmose and having it broadcast to the whole of Denmark, it is something new, says another expert, which will help break down social prejudice and show the people are decent and hardworking just like other Danes.

Odense Kommune the Odense Council's published program for Mary's visit (in Danish)
Odense Kommune press release (in Danish) about Leyla Haji Yusuf, the 41-year-old mother who will be hostess to Mary in Vollsmose. Leyla left war-torn Somalia and originally went to Italy, but later arrived in Denmark in 1997, where she has raised her four children aged between 3 and 21 and has also pursued her own education and community-oriented career.
Fyens Stiftstidende article (in Danish) about a group of mothers Mary will meet.

Video clip from TV FYN (just over 2 mins) showing the Jomaa family at home. And, yes! Mr Jomaa is right. His wife's cooking does look good!

Some photos of the last visit to Vollsmose by Frederik and Mary:

A little background:
Denmark's royal couple put a new flavor in tour a 2004 account in English of the last visit.
Frederik and Mary visit Vollsmose ghetto 2004 in English from The Copenhagen Post.
(With thanks to Muhler, TheoDK, Emilia and Jema)

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Friday 25 August 2006

Frederik with the President of Latvia

Today Crown Prince Frederik has had an audience with the President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga in Christian VIII's Palace. The Latvian president is on an official visit and after the audience with Frederik they opened an exhibition together at the Amalienborg Museum about national orders. Link to Latvia home site. A little background: Vīķe-Freiberga's parents were World War II refugees and lived in several countries before settling in Canada. In 1998 Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga returned to Latvia to head up the Institute of Latvia, which aims to promote Latvia abroad. In June 1999 she was elected president as a compromise and then re-elected for a second term in 2003. She has been a popular president with high approval ratings. She has had strong criticisms of Russia and is an enthusiastic proponent of Latvia's membership of NATO and the EU.
Crown Prince Frederik is doing the honours because he has been regent for most of August while the Queen has been vacationing in France at Château de Cayx.

From the President's website.

Photos by Jens Dige of POLFOTO

Added: From The Copenhagen Post:

On her way to even greater things

31 August 2006

Latvian President Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga visited Denmark last week to mark the fifteenth anniversary of a post-cold war restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

During a busy week that included meetings with the Prime Minister and Crown Prince Frederik, 61-year-old Vike-Freiberga – who has been tipped as a possible candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as UN General Secretary - was pictured here outside the National Museum shaking hands with the Chairman of the Foreign Policy Society, Klaus Carsten Pedersen, while Denmark’s leading elder statesman, ex-foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen looked on.

As current holder of a seat the UN Security Council, Denmark is believed, along with the US, to support former psychology professor Vike-Freiberga’s candidature.The Copenhagen Post

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