Saturday 29 December 2007

Berlingske Tidende chapter 2 translation

Photo © Berlingske Tidende/© Linda Henriksen

Chapter Two

"We want to be a regent couple in our own individual way"
Written by Karen Margrethe Schelin

Published in Berlinske Tidende 23 December 2007

The Crown Prince Couple try to find their own individual way to be a regent couple. In this chapter they talk about the demands upon them as a future regent couple. About observing and soaking up, really absorbing as much as they can from the Queen and the Prince Consort, about having an aim regarding social issues and about frustration that at some point the Crown Princess was practically made synonymous with fashion.

The Crown Prince Couple have had a bit of a rough night. Princess Isabella has kept her parents awake several times. But like all seasoned parents of small children they quickly shake off the fatigue and give no hint of complaint about it.

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik even look in surprisingly good form when we sit in front of each other in their private rooms in the Chancellery House.

The interview takes place the day after Crown Princess Mary visited the Heart Association, where she took part in the handing out of funds for the benefit of research in relation to children suffering from heart afflictions. After the official schedule the Crown Princess went for a trip to Tivoli with the “heart children”. She also went on a rollercoaster with the children.

“What we do may seem like a small thing. But we get a response that is so much greater and in that way it feels like a present that we can do something special with them. And it should be understood in the right way. Its not like we are walking around and performing magic or being something special. We get a tremendous lot back, such as when for instance you learn that you have made a big difference for a small child who met you and sat in the merry go round with you - that she is riding high on that with good spirits and for a short moment has forgotten all about her problems,” says Crown Princess Mary.

The Crown Prince Couple is getting increasingly involved in social affairs.

The Crown Princess is, among other things, patron for a number of associations and organisations with a social aim and lately she has founded the Mary Foundation. The Crown Prince is, among many others, patron for Save the Children and is attached to the Red Cross, with a recent appearance as the up front public face of the Red Cross in a TV campaign.

Q: Is a new social profile for the DRF emerging?

The Crown Prince: “It may be perceived that way. But if you look at my grandmother Queen Ingrid, she was very engaged in social issues. She has, not least of all, left an indelible touch of joy and comfort and also not least, love, in Southern Jutland [to which she was very attached]. Actually I think she was very engaged in social issues for her time. She got involved in issues that were relevant back then – for example polio, which was a big issue right after the Second World War. I also believe she was involved in Mødrehjælpen (Mothers Help). The DRF has always had a tradition of getting involved in social issues, but perhaps it is experienced as something new because male members of the DRF are getting involved as well. That includes my father too.”

The Crown Princess: “It may also reflect a development in the society that we all have become a little more conscious in respect to contributing to society and helping. Personally I feel very strongly that all people have a right to belong and to know that someone cares about them. Through my engagement [with organisations] and work as patron I have often had the impression that social isolation is a particularly problematic factor. That is, that social isolation can be both the result and the cause of a problem. You can say that social isolation and illness is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. That is the basis for the formation of the Mary Foundation which at the same time gives me the opportunity to keep all the threads together which I already have in my social work. It is yet one more platform to hopefully be able to help some people to have a better life. That is something I’m really passionate about and as Crown Princess it gives me a unique opportunity to help make a difference.”

Q: How does it affect you to personally meet vulnerable and sick people?

"It can be hard. But even though I’m often deeply moved, I think that they get a better experience if I show a smiling face and a little encouraging sympathy. There may be something that may give a little hope or perhaps just a good experience they can take with them. It can sometimes be difficult, but we too get so much in return when we meet vulnerable and sick people.”

The Crown Prince: “Yes, and even though there is a lot of commotion going on when one arrives, with lots of people and flashlights right in the eyes, we always try to create a space so we can have genuine contact face to face during the brief minutes that are available. For some people it can be hard to understand that a monarchy like ours has significance in the times we live in, even that it can generate an economic surplus. In theory basically it can’t, but time and time again we experience to our great joy that we do make a big difference for people and that is among the best of experiences for us. That even though it may only last a few minutes, the recipient understands that we mean it from our hearts.”

The Crown Princess: “Yes, it is very important for us that it is perceived as something more profound than just us being present. By engaging ourselves in these issues we also hope to create a debate about a problem and to encourage the possibility that the conditions and the lives of these people are improved in some way. It is about helping to do that, because we cannot do it just by creating attention.”

Q: As the “newly instated” Crown Princess you were criticised in the press for being too interested in fashion. Is this an area from which you have retreated a bit?

“Fashion is an exciting industry and I believe it is almost the third largest export industry of the country [worth more than DKK 20 billion and growing]. I chose to get involved with fashion because it was a place to start and it was where I could be present and get some experience. It’s a big and important industry, but because it was about fashion and money and about dressing up it was regarded as shallow. Had it been windmills it may have been a different matter.

It may also have been a convenient or easy way to fit me in. Perhaps it should have been balanced a bit more, but I think it went off balance because fashion attracts a lot of attention. It was never just the case that I was only involved with fashion. But it almost seemed as though I wasn’t doing anything else and I experienced that as a bit frustrating in the beginning.”

The Crown Prince: “Women like to look good and the rest of us like to keep an eye on what is going on in regard to fashion. And here I might think that instead of criticising the Crown Princess for attending fashion shows, you could say 'Here we have a young woman, who has just arrived in a new country and who has the opportunity to put her mark on a significant industry'. That is, look a bit deeper instead of focusing on what she is wearing today and whether it is a particular brand of clothing.

The Crown Princess may well dazzle with her dress and presence, but what is behind it is hugely important. As far as I understand one out of every eight people in Denmark is one way or another occupied with the fashion industry, and young Danish designers are fighting a hard battle in shark infested waters.”

The Crown Princess: “I think it went off balance because there was so much focus on that in the media. But I also chose to get involved in the field because I really like Danish fashion. It is very international and often times it is among the very best. The fashion industry has been very appreciative of my effort and I entered at a moment when Danish fashion really started to bloom. But I also then had many social issues besides that and since then I have quietly evolved my work more in that direction. It is something I have been giving a lot of thought and I spend a lot of time working on figuring out how I can best approach it. And as I said before, I believe that every person hopefully will contribute to society and help where they can. And, in my capacity as Crown Princess I have a unique opportunity for creating attention in a number of areas which at the same time also interest me.”

Q: How do you view your future role as regent couple? The demands expected of you are different than those when your mother became regent?

The Crown Prince: "Yes, absolutely. The demands on the regent couple will constantly change. Every era has its own particular demands. My mother was only 32 and she was a woman, so back then there were very formidable demands made of her when she woke up one morning and was Queen. You may say that we benefit from the tradition and that we have been able to observe the impressive way my parents – and your parents-in-law, Mary – fulfill their role. We observe and absorb as much as we are able to."

Q: But the Crown Prince Couple belongs to a new generation and you live differently to your parents. What will be your particular interest as a regent couple?

The Crown Princess: “As Frederik is saying, we are right now trying to figure out where our path will lead us as we continue to take in as much as we can. But we cannot prepare ourselves 100 per cent. We cannot move into or teleport ourselves into the future and see how it will be. We will do it in our own individual way, just as the Queen and the Prince Consort do it their own way. As Regent Couple they reflect the time they live in and we will too, when we get there. We don’t know yet how things will look at that time. We ready ourselves, so that we are prepared to embark on our journey in the best possible way.”

The Crown Prince: “To dare be ourselves has turned out to be a plus for both of us. It may be that some people see it differently. I think I have come farther than I believed possible by being myself. Some may have thought that I was a bit too different, but in this regard I have said to myself: 'What you see is what you get'."

The Crown Princess: “Otherwise it will be an unhappy life.”

The Crown Prince: “Yes, you can only smile your own smile. And fortunately it turns out that in general people like to see that you show a human face. Many even give praise that you shed a tear.”

Q: That must be a healthy acknowledgment to reach with all the expectations that have always been on your shoulders as Crown Prince?

“Yes, and I no longer see it as something embarrassing to show my feelings. I may have done ten or fifteen years ago and I certainly do not expect that others should express themselves in the same manner. But that’s how we end up doing it, because in every respect we can only be ourselves.”

Q: How do you handle the balance between being royals and style icons like other celebrities?

The Crown Princess: “We don’t consider ourselves style icons. But we are of conscious of the fact that we must dress neatly and correctly for the events in which we take part. I don’t think people would be thrilled if we showed up improperly dressed. We are very conscious that we represent Denmark and that we do it in the correct manner. And it can really be frustrating if you are out an event and there is more focus on your clothes than on what happened.

The dress is part of our 'uniform' but we are not out to outshine the event itself, or look like a Christmas tree. So of course we have many considerations as to how we engage in what we do. We think carefully. Sometimes it’s just a case of 'I want to do that'. Every event we attend has a very strict schedule, almost down to minute by minute, but of course there should also be room for spontaneity.”

Q: Isn’t it a bit odd to have to wait for a position you have no idea about when it begins?

The Crown Prince: “No matter what new job you are facing there will always be some uncertainty. If you could see it all in advance you would be over-qualified. The challenge lies in the margin of unpredictability there will always be. Otherwise the job wouldn’t be experienced as a chance for development. That’s the way I try to handle it and it has actually been something of a revelation for me when I began to view it in that way. You cannot prepare yourself for everything.”

The Crown Princess: “No, it’s just like having a baby. You can read and talk and absorb from all directions, but you cannot know how it will actually be in reality.”

The Crown Prince: “That’s how I felt when I left for Greenland in 2000. Yes, you were physically capable. You trusted your psyche and were well prepared. We trained as much as we could and built most of our things ourselves and so on. However we could never go before a rostrum and say: 'We will absolutely get through at such and such time'. In the case of Greenland it’s the moods of nature that decides whether you will get through it all. Physically you can be unfortunate and get injured and then you have to quit before time. It’s the same thing in sports.

The more you train – that applies to our future too – and gain experience of life through practical experiences, the more you minimise the unforeseen things the job as monarch involves. To be well prepared is the most important thing and here experience of life comes in. That is what we will pass on to our little boy, so that he hopefully will be allowed to maintain his curiosity and interest for his surroundings. He might travel and live abroad so that he will have an opportunity to get to know himself. The most important thing is to be able to be at peace within himself, to obtain a centre of gravity. And you get that through experience of life and that only comes through time.”

The Crown Princess: “We believe it is a very essential part of our work to carry on the traditions and history which make the monarchy something unique and a rallying point for Denmark. Continuity is very important but there must also be room for development, so we will fulfill the role in our unique way. That’s the way every regent couple has done it.”

Q: What thoughts do you have as the Crown Prince Couple in regard to the future of Prince Christian?

The Crown Prince: “I have thought about that a lot, especially before his birth. Jeez, do stay inside in your mother’s belly! You shouldn’t come out into the big, raging world!”

The Crown Princess: “Nooo…" thoughtfully, "We must ensure that he will be so well prepared that he can face all the challenges that will come his way. That he will become a happy boy and will get the chance to live a life like everybody else, but still with this difference… And that he can carry it with pride. He must be proud of who he is. Naturally there will be times in his life where he may not want to have all the pressure of expectation on his shoulders. So then it will be our job to support him.”

The Crown Prince: “He surely must question things along the way. Why are the reactions are as they are in regard to him. He will surely do that, and here we will be 100 per cent present. If it must be put briefly, it’s our hope that he shall live as an ordinary person in an extraordinary world. But there will surely be times where he will find it difficult to be different.”

The Crown Princess: “That’s how all children feel it. You would rather be like everybody else. You’d rather not stand out in any way. You want to belong to the group, to the community.”

Q: If the Crown Prince were to write a letter to himself as a young man, how would it read?

“I would write that I was fortunate to be given a lot of freedom. Innermost as well as externally. I really was allowed to develop myself and have my own experiences and that has been worth pure gold. I could not have bought that. It was cool that I had that freedom and those experiences. And I was allowed to keep my curiosity and challenge myself physically as well as mentally.

In the Frogman Corps for example, there were many times when you thought, 'It wasn’t you who did that!' You would never have believed you were capable of it, but you managed it in some mysterious way. By working through the issues and listening to your own thoughts you pulled through. It was best when you faced some measurable demand that had to be honoured, otherwise it was just 'goodbye and thank you' with a good conscience but neverthless downcast, right?

That gave a lot of insight within yourself and also courage. I became aware that you could actually set some extreme goals for yourself, and honour them. Physical well-being gives a good mental balance, so yes, it has also been a help in respect to my future job as regent. It applies to all people that you get cheered up by physical exertion.

In my letter I would write that it’s important to get the freedom to experience things. Without wanting to be too aloof I will refer to a single sentence by Piet Hein: 'Remember to love, while you dare. Remember to live, while you do'. You could say that to yourself, but only as seen in the rear view mirror, because as a teenager you cannot forsee your life, but you do live much more intensely and have a lot of emotions. So yes, you must not forget to love.”

Q: Does the Crown Princess to have an advice for yourself as teenager?

"I think that it is important that you learn a lot from the experiences you have along the way. I believe you should live in the present and also look ahead, even though I don’t always remember it. But I believe in it. I’m certain that I could give myself a lot of advice today with retrospective effect, but I don’t think I would have been able to receive it when I was a teenager or younger, because at that time I didn’t have the experience to accept it that I have today. I think I would say to myself: 'Good luck on the journey'."

The End

go to chapter 1 (thanks ambiDK!)

  • As so often here at the blog, a huge thank you to Muhler for translation. As always in translations there are fine lines of interpretation to get across the meanings and idioms which are not exactly the same in different languages. We attempt to do this as best we can with as much care as possible. We are not professional translators however, and urge anyone wanting to use this material to contact Berlingske Tidende and the journalist Karen Margrethe Schelin. To any in the Australian media tempted to distort the material here, you will be called out on it! Otherwise, fair use is encouraged since that is what we are interested in here at the blog - bridging the Danish - English (Australian) language and culture divide.

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    Blogger Kirstine said...

    I love the challenge to the rubbish Australian womens magazines! I refuse to buy such publications because they make up the stories, and reference "close family friends" and "royal experts", much like Trine Velleman. If I want the truth, I will check this blog, but I don't look for controversy like people who read those magazines. I look for hope and happiness in a new generation of royals, which has linked Denmark and Australia for all time.
    You do a wonderful job of REALLY reporting the news of the Danish Royal Family!

    8:18 am  

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