Sunday 6 May 2007

Margrethe & two very different stories

Here are two very different stories which show the breadth of life stories and experiences of state which the royal family encounter. The first is a very poignant story from Fredensborg, whereas the second concerns new rescue helicopters to service Denmark's many disparate islands (406 and the Jutland peninsula).

Billed Bladet (no. 17, 25 April 2007) reported a story about a little girl who lives in Fredensborg and presented the flowers to the Queen and Crown Princess Mary at the recent "fakkeltog" - the welcome from the town of Fredensborg on the return of the regent couple to Fredensborg Palace for the summer. The story is – The Queen knows about Camille’s lot.

“The doctor says my illness sleeps. I hope it never ever wakes up again.”

Ten year old Camille is a happy and pretty girl with a lovely smile. No one can see when looking at her that she is something of a miracle. Camille has cancer in the stem of the brain and a few months ago the doctors at Rigshospitalet dared not give her hope further than March. But so far she has defied their sad prognosis. Camille is still alive and is well most of the time.

“My biggest wish is to become well. That the illness will vanish. But I know it probably will not happen,” says the brave little girl, who is strong enough to know the truth. Her family has openly told her how bad things are, but with the open mind of a child, Camille copes with the illness in her own way.

She knows that it’s important to treasure the good moments when you are so ill as she is. Camille had one of those moments lately. Queen Margrethe moved in at Fredensborg Palace and Camille was allowed to present flowers to both the Queen and Crown Princess Mary.

It was one of the employees at the palace who had decided the give Camille that experience and the royals had been told about who she was beforehand. Many thoughts did indeed go through their minds when they with smiles and handshakes received pretty Camille. The Queen did something extra in greeting the little flower girl and Mary was one big smile. Crown Prince Frederik was visibly moved and with difficulty kept his emotions in check...[with thoughts about his own good fortune to have healthy children].

But Camille too had been just such a healthy child once. It was only around Whitsuntide (May) last year that doctors discovered the malignant tumour. Camille was immediately operated on but it was only possible to remove ten percent of the tumour. That’s why Camille gets chemotherapy and that makes her very tired and it takes its toll on her frail body, which these days only weighs nineteen kilos. But with the dauntless mind of the child Camille struggles on.

“I go to school when I think I can handle it. I prefer English, because it’s important that I learn languages,” says Camille, who looked extra sweet and lovely the evening she greeted the Queen. No one could see the big tumour on her head, because Camille’s mother, Mette, had made the loveliest curls which formed a halo around the girl’s head.

The scar from the operation was also hidden, so it was a fine little girl with a headband who greeted the royal family by curtsying just as deeply as she had practised.

It wasn’t however the first time Camille saw the Queen. She did that on Christmas Eve too, because Camille’s grandfather is also the Queen’s paperhanger/decorator, Kurt Malthesen. He was at Fredensborg while the DRF went to church and he decided to show his sick grandchild the grand royal Christmas tree in the Dome-hall. Just as they stood and admired the tree the Queen came in and Kurt Malthesen ... explained who the little girl was.

“I’m deeply impressed by Camille. The illness has changed her, she has become more thoughtful,” says Kurt Malthesen, who has worked for the Queen for more than twenty years.

“One day Camille said 'Granddad, what is your favourite-colour?' I replied 'green', and then she said 'but that’s the colour of hope…'.”

“I’m religious and I pray for Camille every single day and hope a wonder will happen. She is such a brave little girl. The other day she asked me 'Granddad, how old are you?' I replied '67'. And then she said 'I’m only ten, and yet it’s me who is so ill'".

She is a wonderful girl. But only a miracle can save her. (by Annelise Weimann/Billed Bladet and kindly translated by Muhler)

And so on a very different note:

24 April 2007 Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik inspected the new EH101 Merlin military helicopters at the Military Airfield of Karup, Jutland.

The helicopters are going to be used in rescue misions for Denmark's many small islands and at sea around the extensive Danish coastline . After the presentation the Queen and Prince Henrik were flown back to Copenhagen in the helicopter as a practical demonstration of it's capabilities.

In a press release from the Danish Air Force it was announced the new EH101 rescue helicopters were inaugurated by Queen Margrethe and the first was sent on its first watch and is ready to save lives.

At a ceremony in the hangar of Squadron 722 at Karup Air Station (in north Jutland) the fourteen new EH101 helicopters were formally handed over from the defence supply service to the Air Force. Eight of the fourteen helicopters have been configured to serve as rescue helicopters and the first helicopter including crew was sent to Skrydstrup (in south Jutland) where they were bid welcome on the watch by two F16 fighters from Fighter Wing Skrydstrup.

Before the departure the new modern helicopter was shown to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and the Prince Consort, who were first shown the interior, after which the flying capabilities were demonstrated in the area in front of the hangar. After the demonstration Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and the Prince Consort themselves experienced EH101 in action on a flight back to Fredensborg.

The Danish military has undergone some major changes and modernisation of equipment in the past 10-15 years. It has transitioned from being a local medium to heavy defence force to an offensive mobile force, which emphasises personnel protection and heavy firepower. The role of around 1,000 to 1,500 Danish service personnel constantly stationed abroad has changed from primarily defensive peacekeeping to much more aggressive peacekeeping, and, if needed, peace-enforcing. The role of the remaining six EH101 are a part of that policy and so is the stationing of battle tanks in Afghanistan. These will be deployed in the comming months. (many thanks Muhler!)

And on the same story in Billed Bladet (no.18, 3 May 2007) – Flying grandmother, as the Queen had just become a grandmother for the fourth time,as we know.

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik got some air under the wings on their first flight on the new military rescue helicopter. The trip went from the lawn at Fredensborg to Karup Air Station in Northern Jutland and back.

With the Sikorsky helicopters, which are more than 40 years old, the flight would have lasted more than an hour, but now the regent couple arrived in Karup in just 48 minutes.
“The Queen is very pleased with the new helicopter. She especially emphasised that it vibrates less than the old ones,” explained the head of Air Tactical Command, Stig Østergaard Nielsen, who showed the Queen and Prince Henrik the 215 million DKK rescue helicopter, which carries the name EH 101 Merlin. The air force have received fourteen in total so far of the state-of-the-art choppers, which are stationed in Aalborg, Skrydstrup and Roskilde.

The entire DRF can now look forward to a more comfortable flight, when they are allowed to borrow one of the new helicopters. “It happens between five and ten times a year that the DRF borrow a helicopter or some other plane (a Gulf Stream, not fighter jets), and we always know in advance,” says Morten Jensen from Karup Air Station, although rescues, emergencies and military needs always take precedence. (by Ken Richter/Billed Bladet and translated by Muhler)

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