Wednesday 9 January 2008

Alexandra & Jefferson: an interview

Here's a bit of a wrap on the always elegant Princess Alexandra zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and her family. In a recent interview with Billed Bladet we have an insight into the very busy life they have these days. Alexandra is the second child of Princess Benedikte and her German husband Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. This last November Alexandra turned 37 years old. In 1998 Alexandra married Count Jefferson von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth (40) at Gråsten Palace and so by marriage the princess became Countess von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth. During the past year we have seen her at various family events, but there have also been suggestions her marriage was in trouble. These murmurs seem to have begun last Christmas. It coincided with her husband Jefferson's new job as managing director of the Paris branch of the Sal. Oppenheim Bank in January 2007 when Jefferson did not appear in public too often with Alexandra. Jefferson had previously worked within the finance industry in London, Paris and Frankfurt. For the big Danish royal family Christmas gathering at Fredensborg Palace in 2006, Alexandra, Jefferson and children Richard and Ingrid did not attend because a close friend was gravely ill with cancer in Germany and so they decided not to go to Fedensborg.

In February Billed Bladet (no. 5, 2007) reported the couple attended an Armani fashion show:
Alexandra så på mode – Alexandra checked out the fashion
Princess Alexandra brought her newly appointed bank manager, Count Jefferson, to a distinguished fashion show in Paris. Count Jefferson has a lot to do since he was appointed manager of the Swiss bank Sal Oppenheim's new branch in Paris last month. But the 39 year-old count found time to go with his wife Princess Alexandra... when the French fashion house Georgio Armani invited them to a Spring 2007 fashion show... for a select audience who are able to buy. Princess Alexandra is very interested in fashion and she enjoyed watching the elegant mannequins on the runway. Alexandra was up with the fashion herself in a white silk blouse with a dark blue velous jacket and a long pearl necklace and a pair of elegant long pearl earrings. Count Jefferson followed the spring show with interest as well and perhaps it was he who was invited, due to his new title as bank manager? Which ever way, Jefferson wasn't the only man among the audience who was wearing a suit.
Then from Billed Bladet (nr. 31/2007) from Gråsten in South Jutland in July 2007:
Ingrid nyder ferien på Gråsten Slot – Ingrid enjoys the holiday at Gråsten Palace
Lady Ingrid follows in Queen Ingrid’s footsteps and enjoys the summer holiday with the royal family at the palace in South Jutland. Little Lady Ingrid is a sure guest at Gråsten Palace every single summer and she knows to step forward on the stairs to follow the weekly change of guard at Gråsten Palace. Lady Ingrid is only four years old, and this year is the first time the little girl has become aware that she is a member of a very special family.
In previous years, Ingrid has been a bit perplexed and has stayed close to her mother when she stood with the other members of the Royal family to listen to the military music and to watch the soldiers marching by. This year Lady Ingrid was much more independent and she listened to advice from her older brother, seven year-old Count Richard... Lady Ingrid is Princess Benedikte’s youngest grandchild so far, the daughter of the 37 year-old Princess Alexandra and her husband Count Jefferson, who also have a son Count Richard (now eight)...The family lives in Paris, where Princess Alexandra of Berleburg works for UNESCO while her husband has a big job as the general manager of the bank Sal Oppenheim. So the holiday at Gråsten Palace is a highlight for the two children, who can do everything they want to around the big palace and its huge park and swimming pool if the weather allows it. Often, they can also play with their second cousins Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, who are around the same age (but not this year as they were on vacation with their mother)...
Wedding in the chapel of the palace
Instead Richard and Ingrid will have the chance to get to know Prince Christian and little Princess Isabella better, as they will be staying at the palace for a few days with their parents, the Crown Prince Couple. While Count Richard has always been a careful boy, Lady Ingrid is much more fearless and often throws herself into new adventures though she might get a bit knocked about. In that way Ingrid is a lot like her grandfather Prince Richard...To begin with, this year Ingrid and Richard had a good time with their grandmother, as both Princess Alexandra and Count Jefferson had to work for a few more days. Actually, their father wil not even make it to Gråsten this year, and Benedikte was also away from the Palace for a few days. Along with Prince Richard she was at the Danish Championships in dressage at Broholm Estate on South Funen. The two Queens, Margrethe and Anne-Marie, acted as nannies to Ingrid and Richard together with Prince Henrik, and then on the Monday Princess Alexandra joined the holiday group. To her, Gråsten Palace has always been a very special place, and she has a lot of happy memories from her childhood and later in her life too... During childhood Queen Ingrid was the unshakable centre of the gathering, and now she can enjoy how both Lady Ingrid and Count Richard enjoy their holidays to the full in the same way. To Princess Alexandra, the love of Gråsten Palace is unique. This was also where she was married to Jefferson in the chapel of the palace in the summer of 1998. (written by Ken Richter and kindly translated by ambiDK!)
Photos from the album at Gråsten 2007: 1) Alexandra at Legoland with her children Richard and Ingrid, 2) helping out with Christian on the slippery dip at Legoland, 3 & 4) on the steps at Gråsten, 5) going to the customary concert in the palace chapel with brother Gustav and Carina Axelsson following.

From Billed Bladet (no. 52, December 2007) an insightful interview by Annelise Weimann about their life these days. Lykkelige som aldrig før – Happy as never before

Alexandra and Jefferson after nine years of marriage - Our love is just as strong as it was on our wedding day, says Princess Alexandra, 37, and Count Jefferson, 40.

"Of course you change over 10 years. We have as well. Life itself changes. But our love for each other is just as stong as the day we were married and our relationship is also just as strong."
Princess Alexandra of Berleburg and her husband, Count Jefferson, sit with arms around each other at home on the big white sofa in their apartment in Paris. They have known each other since 1985 where they attended Louisenlund Boarding School in Northern Germany together. They were married in Gråsten Palace Church in June 1998, and they have been inseparable ever since then.
Rumours of divorce
"A year ago there was rumours saying that we were getting a divorce, we were surprised by that ...Perhaps the rumours arose when we cancelled on the big family Christmas at Fredensborg Palace last year, and because we weren’t seen so much together for a while. But there was a good reason. Last Christmas, when the Royal Family was gathered at Fredensborg, one of our very good friends was passing away in Germany. Instead of going to Denmark, we decided to visit him and support his wife, who is the same age as me," Princess Alexandra explains. "We are glad that we did it, because the man, who also had a young child, passed a way soon after."
"At the same time, I had said no to some invitations due to my work," Count Jefferson continues. "On January 1 this year I began as the chief executive director in a new bank and that was a deep secret until then. Sal. Oppenheim is the biggest privately owned bank in Europe, and it was opening a branch in Paris for the first time. Nobody was allowed to know anything about this, but I was working a lot. In the beginning, I was the only employee, today we are 11, and we will be even bigger in the next two years."
Q: How do you keep the love alive?
Alexandra says "We make sure that we have time to be together. It can be hard with two young children and an exhausting job. But sometimes I pick up my husband from work and then we go to a café and have a good time for an hour or so before we go home. We might also drive off on our own on a Saturday afternoon, we enjoy that."
"Yes, and then we email each other at least four or five times each day. And we also call each other from work," the couple says. "We make sure that we have time with the kids as well," Jefferson explains. "Every morning all four of us lie in the same bed and have a nice time before I have to go to work, it is really lovely that the kids are awake so that I can say goodbye to them. They are usually up when I get home as well. Richard is up no matter what, so even though I don’t see them for so many hours during the week, we still get some quality time together. My working week is 70 hours long because a usual day at work is 14 hours, but I try to have the weekends off."
Princess Alexandra also works a lot. When the kids were smaller, she worked half time at UNESCO, where she is responsible for the department which preserves cultural and natural assets in Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives.
" I spend more time at work now and only have Wednesday and Friday afternoon off," says the Princess, who is happy with the Danish au pair who lives with them. The family also gets help with the cleaning three times a week.
Ingrid is an allergy sufferer
Q: Do you have time for hobbies?
" We like playing golf but don’t think that we’ve got enough time for it. But we love to cook together, Thai, Japanese, all kinds," says Alexandra.
Q: Who is the best chef?
"That is definitely my husband, he is more creative than I am. And then he is good at sauces. But we both love shellfish and fish."
Every day two kinds of food has to be made in the home as four year-old Lady Ingrid suffers from allergies.
" She can’t have eggs or flour, and she is allergic to fish and shellfish, mustard and nuts," Count Jefferson says. Princess Alexandra is also an allergy sufferer, she is allergic to cats and horses as well as other things, and her son is also allergic to these as well.
Q: Previously, you have said that you want more children. Is the third one on the way?
" I am happy that there’s four years between Richard and Ingrid, in that way I have had the time to enjoy both of them while they were young. I think I have enough to do with my work, the children and their school right now, but if I didn’t have to work so much some day, I would definitely like to have another child," says Princess Alexandra and emphasises “I am not pregnant now.”
The couple lives in the heart of Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower and only a 15 minute walk from Count Jefferson’s work.
"We love living in Paris and have settled well. But we are not French and will probably move someday. It is exciting here but it is also a stressed life, and we would like to live in the countryside. But right now, our work is here. Who knows, if we were offered work in Denmark some day, if there is a bank who can use me, we are definitely willing to move," Count Jefferson says.
Summer holiday in caravan
Princess Alexandra is naturally the one among Princess Benedikte’s children who sees her parents the least. Her siblings, Prince Gustav and Princess Nathalie, live at home at the palace in Berleburg.
" Earlier on, Jefferson and I often drove to Berleburg with the kids, but that was a long time ago. Richard attends school until 4.30pm, and it takes six hours to drive to Berleburg, so it is too much for an ordinary weekend. My parents could of course come and visit us here, but my father hates big cities, he thinks Copenhagen is okay in size, and his dentist is there, but Paris is too big. My mother comes here sometimes but she is so busy and her last visit was two years ago now," Princess Alexandra says.
With a busy everyday life, the family looks forward to the holiday.
" We have already begun to plan our summer holiday. We have plans to go to the US and driving around in a caravan. That would give us a chance to be together all four of us all the time, which is the exact kind of holiday we enjoy the most," Alexandra says. (written by Annelise Weimann and kindly translated by ambiDK)
From Billed Bladet:

Some more photos from the album: 1) Princess Alexandra's childhood home Berleburg Castle 2) Gråsten wedding in 1998, 3) leaving University Hospital in Copenhagen (Rigshospitalet) after the birth of little Ingrid in 2003, 4) Ingrid's christening (Frederik and Mary are there pre-wedding)

1 & 2) In January 2006 at Christian's christening with brother Gustav and chatting with then Countess Alexandra, 3) in Norway last summer for the birthday celebrations of Queen Sonja (in the rear of group photo), 4) Alexandra with Ari Behn, 5) Jeffersen with Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and 6) on another occasion Alexandra with Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit

With Frederik and Mary before their wedding:

At Isabella's christening at Fredensborg last July, Richard went up to the font with Nikolai and Felix at the moment of baptism and the family was very much part of the ongoing celebrations at the Chancellery House afterwards (swimming and barbecue party):

Gråsten 2006: 1) Alexandra and Princess Benedikte at the ballet in the park, 2 & 3) royal grandmothers and cousins at Legoland with the third generation, 4 & 5) family photocall and watching the guards march past

Many thanks to ambiDK, cph and Muhler!

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Blogger Sternchen said...

Count Jefferson has a lot to do since he was appointed manager of the Swiss bank Sal Oppenheim's new branch in Paris last month.

Well, Billed Bladet must have misunderstood something, as Sal. Oppenheim was a German private bank :) before they moved to Luxembourg in July 2007, so after the article was published :)

They could have found out easily, if they would have bothered to visit their website :)

9:33 am  
Blogger Leah Grantham said...

Great article!! I really enjoy reading articles about the less famous members of the DRF.


4:01 pm  
Blogger Leah Grantham said...

What is Billed Bladet? Is that like an American tabloid magazine? Do they often get their facts wrong? I see they are often a source for the blog entries here.

4:10 pm  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Billed Bladet is a Danish weekly magazine which concentrates on royalities among normal celeb-story. Its not a tabloid in the ordinary sense, as they normally writes their stories with respect for the royal people - and therefore often get good interviews with s a socalled "nice" magazine :o)
/Charlotte from Denmark

11:42 am  

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