Sunday 1 June 2008

Frederik: a little life history

WE know a little more of Frederik's journey from boy to man according to his own account since the publication of the new biography marking his 40th birthday. The occasion has caused the publication of a number of well known and not so well known stories in a new light. The week has included some retrospective photos of Frederik's life which we will post here as well as a few more anecdotes from the book Frederik - Crown Prince of Denmark and some others we have had up our sleeve waiting for the right moment to post.

From Billed Bladet, no. 22, 2008 'Køre hundeslæde med Christian of Isabella' - Ride a dog sled with Christian and Isabella by Anna Joahannesen (excerpts):
Christian Buchwald about Frederik and children: "Frederik is very attentive to the well being of his children and I'm confident that the Crown Prince Couple will make sure that their children also learn about life outside the polished floors and golden door handles. Our children have enjoyed the company of Frederik. Not just because he is funny and doesn't mind entertaining children, like swallowing a live spider, dance a cossack dance or sing sailor songs ... nor because he knows about the latest music, but because he genuinely listens to them and ask about their lives." Mary about Isabella: "Isabella is the spitting image of her father. It's almost funny to look at. She is completely like Frederik. A female version of him." * We find out that Christian's first word was "baby" and that he later said åbne (= open) to everything. Frederik about bringing up children: "We try not to be fuzzy about them. Children are not made of porcelain but (they are) enormously robust and can handle a lot. As long as we treat them with common sense from the beginning I think it will rub off on them, so that they will become more active and dare to explore the world..." Frederik is looking forward to show Greenland to his wife and children one day, sleeping in a tent on the ice and ride a dog sled with them.
Mary is in a special position to recognise this of course, but many can see the likeness between Frederik and Isabella.

THIS is about Frederik's realisation of his peculiar situation in Danish life:

Marking the 1983 transfer of Schackenborg Manor and estate from Hans and Karen Schack to Prince Joachim, then 14 years © POLFOTO
It is about the day it really dawned on him that he was special and destined to be someone special. it was when he was ten and on a holiday at Marselisborg. Friends Karin and Hans Schack were visiting and were involved in handing over Schackenborg Manor to Prince Joachim.*
"My parents said that my brother should inherit Schackenborg after Hans and Karin. How about me? What do I get? I couldn't quite comprehend it and my mother said: 'But you are going to inherit the whole country one day.' It was a bit 'eeh-what!'. At that age I mostly thought about things in a material context. My brother got a big estate and what did I get? I couldn't understand about inheriting an entire country. It was too big. As a small boy I couldn't relate to it at all. A huge piece of land. What was I supposed to do with that?"

And the day it really dawned on him that he had obligations to the press:

In the early 80's he went to soccer training at a local club near Fredensborg.
"When I arrived for pratice, Mugge# stood there with a photographer and wanted to take pictures. I became terrified and went home on my bike again and told grandmother (mormor - Queen Ingrid): 'I don't want to go to training, there was a photographer'. I just wanted to be allowed to come and go from the football field and training. Why did journalists and photographers have to be there? I really hated it. But mormor was good at explaining that 'You are so and so and you have to do it.' I just wanted to be a part of the crowd and not stand out. Mormor was clearly the best and was the calm, understanding communicator of what my role was - that there was no going back," says Crown Prince Frederik.
After the conversation with mormor - Queen Ingrid - Frederik returned to soccer training and Mugge got his story for Se & Hør. #

* The Schacks were childless and Margrethe and Henrik took over the house and the estate for Joachim at great cost since both were very run down.
# Mugge was a very well-respected royal reporter for Se & Hør for many years. He was also very respected by the DRF, which meant that in return he got quite a few exclusives. Since he retired Se & Hør has declined as a newspaper and has become gutter press.

Surprisingly perhaps, Frederik thinks he has a generally good relationship with the press.

Crown Prince Frederik is probably, in relation to the press, under the strong influence of his wife, Crown Princess Mary. She is the strongest card in the DRF, in regards to the media - and in regards to the relationship with the people in general. It is apparently completely to her credit that members of the DRF today will greet members of the public with personal handshakes at official events. Early on in Mary's and Frederik's marriage it clearly didn't come naturally to Frederik to go and shake hands with members of the public, but he quickly learned from his wife.

Mary says about the future of the DRF when they become regents:
"It's about us developing and that the DRF remains an important institution that Denmark is proud of and very fond of. But you must not underestimate what it means for Denmark that there are some people who can open doors that otherwise wouldn't open that easily. And we must give the Danes a better understanding of the fact that our day to day lives also consists of work. Because it's a misonception among many perhaps that when we are not out on official business, we are doing nothing. That it's only when they see pictures of us that we are working. If you compare the workload of the Crown Prince to how many pictures get into the weekly magazines there is no connection. It's important that this misconception is corrected," says Mary.

What happened in France in 1988:

The press conference the day after the crash in August 1988 © Berlingske Tidende
This is a well known story in the annals of the Royal Family, when Frederik was 20 and Joachim 19, from Billed Bladet (1989) 'Prinserne fik en opsang' – The Princes got a dressing down.
Prince Joachim and Crown Prince Frederik were close to death on August 23rd, 1988, when, along with mates Peter Heering and Anders Moltke-Leth, they crashed in the DRF’s speedy little Peugeot 205.
In the middle of the afternoon the princes and their friends went whooshing way too fast along the narrow winding roads near the family’s Château de Cayx in Southern France when the accident happened.
Joachim (who was driving) turned so that the right front wheel ended up on the verge of the road to avoid a car coming from the opposite direction. This is how the Prince lost control of the car, which proceeded towards some trees on the opposite side of the road, swivelled around and landed on the roof down near the bank of the deep River Lot.
Crown Prince Frederik who sat in the back seat with his friend Peter Heering, was knocked unconscious, fractured his collarbone, got a laceration on the back of his head and was flung out of the car. Peter Heering too was knocked unconscious and flew out through the shattered rear window, but came to when he landed in the river.
Prince Joachim and Anders Moltke-Leth miraculously escaped from the accident with minor cuts.
Local fishermen on the river raised the alarm in the nearby town of Luzech and police and ambulances arrived quickly and took the Princes and their friends to the hospital in Cahors.
The next day, after Crown Prince Frederik was the last to be released from the hospital, the Princes had to face a dressing down at a press meeting at Cayx, where both the Queen and Prince Henrik talked in very short shrift and did not hide how glad they were for the miraculously good luck of their sons, but also how annoyed and angry they were at their inconsiderate driving.
(Muhler's comment: I remember that press meeting. Prince Henrik seemed slightly in shock, though annoyed. But Queen Margrethe, jeez! she was mad! She was visibly angry. And Joachim and Frederik looked like they hoped the ground would open up and swallow them.)

Billed Bladet (20, 2008) reminds us that among the stories of Frederik's childhood, there was 'quality time' once Frederik and Joachim were four years old and joined their parents at the dinner table. At this time the family was together a hundred percent. The Crown Prince has never neglected to remember with joy the almost daily out-loud reading of stories that followed in the wake of the communal evening meals of the family: it was when Mum came up to the prince’s room and read stories aloud, often lasting an hour. It wasn’t just Winnie the Pooh or similar stories, it was also the big adventures like Tolkien and H. C. Andersen. This is where the Queen was a super mom.

Crown Prince Frederik during childhood:

Going to high school:

Prince Joachim and Crown Prince Frederik giving their 'ping pong' speech at their parents' 25th wedding anniversary dinner to the amusement of all, hanging decorations at Fredensborg for the anniversary, the wedding anniversary gala, the Kavaler cottage at Marselisborg where Frederik lived with Holger Foss as a student at Aarhus University, with Holger Foss in the kitchen:

Frederik with his beloved mormor Queen Ingrid and cousins, in the last photo in this section Queen Ingrid had just presented him with the sabre of his grandfather Frederik IX:

Frederik reaching 18, with his musician friend Alex Nyborg Madsen in 1995, in the Copenhagen Marathon and beginning official duties:

Frederik in the military. The last two photos were taken ten day before Frederik met Mary in Sydney:

At the Olympics in Sydney, where Frederik supports Denmark and tries his hand at bowling a cricket ball (needs some work), with Joachim at various times and events, playing the harmonica last year in a surprise appearance in Copenhagen, meeting President Clinton in the Oval Office in 1993:

In Greenland to mark Denmark's Sirius Patrol:

Engagement to Mary 2003, marriage 2004, summer cruise 2004, Athens Olympics 2004, Greenland 2004, birth of Christian 2005, Christian's christening 2006, the Queen's birthday 2007, birth and christening of Isabella:

Photos © Berlingske Tidende, Politiken, Jyllands Posten, Billed Bladet, POLFOTO, Jens Dresling, Thomas Borberg, Rasmus Baaner, Martin Lehmann, Peter Hove Olesen, Tine Harden, Lars Harden, Morten Langkilde, Jacob Maarbjerg, Erik Gleie, Lars Krabbe, Torben Stroyer, Thomas Larsen, Steen Wrem, Mik Eskestad, Ole Lind, Johan Mikkelsen, Lars Bertelsen, Carsten Ingemann, Alex Hultzelsider, Ulrich Borch, Bo Svane, Kurt W. Sørensen, Carsten Andreasen, Holger Bundgaard, Finn Fransden, Steen Brogaard, and others unknown.

Video clips of Frederik as a child from


Huge thanks to Muhler! And to cph!

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