Friday 14 March 2008

Mary completes her Home Guard training

Photos © Jyllands Posten/Jørgen Kølle/Hjemmeværnskommandoen
It has been reported this week that Crown Princess Mary, and also Caroline Heering who accompanied her, have completed basic training in the Danish Home Guard. Yesterday it was announced on the Crown Prince Couples' website that from March 9-11 the Crown Princess had completed the last part of her training in recent days. The Danish Home Guard was established in 1949 and originally mostly comprised former resistance movement members in reaction to the occupation of Denmark by Germany in World War II (1940 to 1945). There are four Home Guard branches with 56,000 volunteers open to both men and women aged over 18. Currently there are proposals for restructure and re-orientation of the activities of the Home Guard to fit new national needs and circumstances. The Home Guard training included learning how to handle a weapon, sleeping outdoors in a bivouac and assisting the police in search and rescue operations, plus first aid and shooting skills. A part of the training has taken place at the Home Guard's education centre at Christiansminde near Jægerspris. Queen Margrethe was also trained in the Home Guard, where she became a major in the then named Women's Air Corps.

Since there was some comment on Mary's Danish military training in Australia when she began with the Home Guard in January, some context is in order. This volunteer service is comparable to volunteer emergency services in Australia, although the origin of the Home Guard comes with a different history, which reaches back to the home defence of Denmark during World War II. For this reason it has military aspects to it, which are not familiar for this kind of volunteer service in Australia. There is a very strong culture of volunteerism in Australia with one of the highest rates of participation per head of population in the world. As a teenager Mary got her volunteer stripes as a surf lifesaver on one of the southern-most beaches in Australia, for which she needed a Bronze Medallion awarded by Surf Lifesaving Australia (generally attained at 14 years of age). The standard volunteer activities in Australia which complement the professional services include surf lifesaving, bush fire fighting and emergency services (helping with storm damage, floods, fires, accidents). There are other kinds of volunteer services based in the community too, such as helping the disabled and disadvantaged, the elderly, conservation projects and so on.

Berlingske Tidende 'Mary gennemfører sin uddannelse i hjemmeværnet' - Mary completes her training in the Home Guard 'Mary har bestået hjemmeværnsprøven'
B.T. 'Mary med hø i håret' - Mary with hay in her hair
Århus Stifstidende 'I svigermors fodspor' - In mother-in-law's footsteps
TV2 article 'Nu kan Mary håndtere bøssen' - Now Mary can handle a gun
Jyllands Posten 'Mary kan skyde og slukke en brand' - Mary can shoot and extinguish a fire 'Princess Mary [sic] finishes military training'

Billed Bladet gallery

The Danish Home Guard - Danish Ministry of Defence
The Danish Defence Agreement 2005 - 2009: Home Guard - about the new orientation for the Home Guard
Danish Home Guard (Wiki)

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