Danish Royal Watchers

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Frederik & Mary in US PARADE Magazine

Last Sunday (we have it on good authority from some of our readers) some U.S. followers of Danish royalty were astonished to find Frederik and Mary on the cover of PARADE Magazine,which is a light-Sunday-style insert with a circulation of 33 million and a distribution in more than 470 newspapers across the U.S. The main article is by Simon Winchester who visited Amalienborg. The editor Janice Kaplin also wrote something/an editorial, but we are not sure what she was smoking at the time. Maybe it was just a bad day. Perhaps she is accustomed to dealing with celebrities and doesn't realise that a royal court is more like dealing with, say, the White House, in terms of protocol. We're not sure Simon Winchester had his sense of humour with him when he was writing up the interview either. Hopefully he got Frederik's joke when he was with Frederik and Mary at Amalienborg!

So, here is the interview:

What Is Royalty In The 21st Century?
by Simon Winchester
published: 19 April 2009

As I entered the courtyard of Copenhagen's Amalienborg Palace, soldiers in tall, black bearskin hats stood guard. Outside one of the buildings, the Palace of Christian VIII, I pressed a tiny brass button next to a plaque that read "Their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess."

I was buzzed in. The palace entrance was gilt, scarlet, and robin's-egg blue. A lady-in-waiting, the light- blue badge of royal office on her left shoulder, stood beside an oil painting at the top of a curving staircase. She showed me into an immense, high-ceilinged receiving room where I would wait to meet Frederik Andre Henrik Christian. Or, as he is officially known, His Royal Highness Prince of Denmark, the Crown Prince, Count of Monpezat--and heir to one of Europe's oldest royal families.

As I sat, soft-footed servants came and went. I heard an occasional cough, the distant clink of bone china. A functionary came in and whispered that there would be a brief delay. It gave me a chance to ponder the question that had brought me here and that had long been troubling me: What is the point of royalty today?

It's not a new question. Sixty years ago, King Farouk of Egypt said that soon there would be only five of his kind left--the King of England and the four kings in a deck of cards. For a time, he was almost right. After a coup saw him fall from grace in 1952, he joined the kings and queens who had toppled like bowling pins since the end of World War I.

However, the thinning has slowed. Royalty remains in places as varied as Japan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Tonga, but the greatest concentration is in Europe. While the grandest-seeming family is in the United Kingdom, even Queen Elizabeth does not preside over as lengthy and uninterrupted a monarchy as Denmark's, which began in 936 A.D. with the colorfully named Gorm the Old.

Denmark is a nation doubly blessed by circumstance and history. By one recent reckoning, the 5.5 million Danes are the world's happiest people. They also have the good fortune to reside under the genial supervision of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe, the mother of Crown Prince Frederik.

As the prince entered the room with his wife, the tousle-haired 40-year-old looked more like one of the Backstreet Boys than the scion of the venerable family of Gluecksborg. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary comes from humbler origins. She was born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson in Australia in 1972. They met in a pub in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic Games. She worked in advertising, and although educated and well-groomed, she was not an aristocrat. What ensued was the dream of royal watchers the world over: The handsome prince fell for the beautiful commoner from the back office.

The couple sought and won the approval of the queen and married in Copenhagen Cathedral in 2004. They have two children: one prince (Christian, 3) and one princess (Isabella, almost 2), both adorable. To join the Danish royals, Princess Mary gave up her Australian citizenship, family name, and religion. She became a Lutheran and learned to speak Danish--which she does almost flawlessly. During our talk, she sometimes struggled for words in English, which she now seldom uses. At the breakfast table, she said, the couple speak Danish.

"Honestly?" I asked.

"Honestly," said the prince, with a wink.

The pair had arrived that morning from their current home, the 18th-century Chancellery House at the Fredensborg Palace. They had driven themselves, leaving the children with a nurse. They have a staff of about 25 who, among other tasks, make sure the car's gas tank is full. Not that the prince or princess couldn't stop for fuel--both possess credit cards, which bear their titles rather than family names.

Having a staff and a generous income--the state gives Prince Frederik about $2.5 million annually to cover his duties, employees, and personal expenses--means that "I don't have to make my own bed," as he put it, and that everyday stresses are kept at a distance. "But only somewhat," he added. "We try as hard as we can to be at one with ordinary Danish citizens. We try not to be too elevated. We represent them. We are part of Denmark, and it is important to us that we display that all the time."

The pair said they'll raise their children in a manner different from the prince's own upbringing. "My mum"--what he calls the much-loved queen, who has reigned for 37 years--"had me brought up by nannies and governesses. I didn't have much to do with my parents until I was 21. When I was small, I was presented to them, washed and brushed, before I was put to bed. I still see Nanny--she came to our wedding--but there is no way our two will be brought up like that."

Crown Prince Frederik made one amusing mistake during our chat. When explaining his constitutional role as head of state, he said, "You have to realize that I am the son of the Queen of England." His wife gently chided, "No, you're the son of the Queen of Denmark." He replied, "Oh, yes, so I am" and winked at me. The prince is actually not far removed from Buckingham Palace--because of the web of intermarriage that links much of European royalty, he is distantly related to Queen Victoria.

The role of the crown prince is, putting it bluntly, to wait. "I am just an apprentice," he said. "You can say I am learning the ropes. My mum sees the prime minister once a week to find out what is going on in government. I attend a bigger meeting once a month. I sit on her right-hand side at a table with the ministers, and I watch as she signs bills and so forth. All the time I am learning, watching. And, yes, waiting." There is much for him to do while he waits. He promotes trade, opens hospitals, dedicates parks, and shakes his subjects' hands.

His wife has thrown herself into Danish life with great energy. People I spoke with in Copenhagen were full of praise for her. "She has set up a foundation," a man said, "for victims of the darker side of Danish life. Perhaps it took an Australian to see a dark side to Denmark. We all think it is a wonderfully content place. She reminded us that some of our people need help."

The two-year-old Mary Foundation was started with money collected as wedding gifts. Its goal is to prevent and help social isolation resulting from problems such as domestic violence and bullying. "Nearly 22,000 children and 28,000 women are victims of domestic violence in this country," Princess Mary said. "People don't think of that in Denmark. We are trying to remind people and to help."

The couple are known for their humble ways and good manners. "You see them in the street, walking without security--or at least not visible security," said my Danish friend Naja. "Once in a while someone will go up to them, and they are very nice.

"I sometimes think they are what all Danes would like to be. They are ideal versions of us," Naja continued. "And they remind us of our history, which is very long and something we should be proud of. They go around the world and give a good impression of our country. Those are some of the reasons why they are loved, even though the idea of kings and queens seems to younger people like me to be out-of-date and wrong."

Prince Frederik and Princess Mary are acutely sensitive to this perspective. So I asked him the question that had occupied me: What is the point of monarchy in the 21st century? He answered, "However much society may change in the future--and our family will be bound to change to reflect it--there will surely be a need for strands of continuity. I hope we will provide that."

He added: "My mum speaks to the Danish people every New Year's Eve. Almost everyone sits down with a glass of champagne to listen to her, and she gives reassurance and comfort and hope for the year ahead. My role as king will be much like my mum's as queen, so long as I remain in tune with the people."

With our conversation at a close, we stood and shook hands, and the pair vanished into the ancient palace. The lady-in-waiting escorted me out.

It was time for the changing of the guard. The courtyard, so silent before, was filled with soldiers marching to barked orders. I glanced up at the palace window, and the lady-in-waiting was there, watching me. She smiled and waved. I waved in return, then walked across the cobblestoned courtyard and back into the bustle and noise of the modern world.

Europe's Royals

The United Kingdom is home to the continent's best-known monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth's clan has a budget estimated at $80 million a year. But Europe has nine other reigning royal families--in Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. While these rulers all hold symbolic importance for their citizens, some, like Prince Hans-Adams II of Liechtenstein and Prince Albert of Monaco, also possess official political responsibility. Both these princes are their lands' highest authorities and possess final approval over legislation.

PARADE Contributing Editor Simon Winchester is the author of 20 books, including "The Professor and the Madman." His most recent is "The Man Who Loved China."

Added: Meant to include this FYI - Frederik is not a "distant relation" of Queen Victoria. Descendancy from Queen Victoria is taken rather seriously and is meticulously recorded. He is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria through his mother the Queen, his grandmother Queen Ingrid, his great grandmother Crown Princess Margarita of Sweden (born Princess Margaret of Connaught) who was a daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, third son and seventh child of Queen Victoria. Therefore Frederik is the great, great, great grandson of Victoria, which also makes Christian and Isabella direct descendants. This is the first time we have heard Frederik referring to the Queen as "mum" in an interview. He normally says "the Queen" or "my mother". We wonder if Simon Winchester used some license in how he recounted the interview in this respect. In finishing his interview with this:
"While these rulers all hold symbolic importance for their citizens, some, like Prince Hans-Adams II of Liechtenstein and Prince Albert of Monaco, also possess official political responsibility. Both these princes are their lands' highest authorities and possess final approval over legislation."
Winchester demonstrates he doesn't realise some of the constitutional differences between the monarchies he mentions. In the Danish case the regent is the constitutional head of state and has more than just symbolic importance.

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Happy birthday Princess Isabella!

Today Princess Isabella turns two. Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe is Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat, and was born at Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet) on April 21st, 2007. Isabella is third in the order of succession to the throne after Prince Christian and she was christened at Fredensborg Palace Chapel on 1 July 2007. Early last November Anna Johannesen and Jan Bergman of Billed Bladet reported that Princess Isabella began visiting the same day nursery Christian attends to become accustomed to it. Queen Louise's Day Nursery (Dronning Louises Børnehus) is in Fredensborg, not far from Chancellery House, and Crown Princess Mary took her to become familiar with the idea of nursery school and also the routines. According to the head of the nursery, "Princess Isabella has been to visit and say hello so she can get to know us and feel secure before she starts in the day nursery. The introduction period is important both for the child and the parents, but also for us, because that gives us all the best start," said Helle Zacho. Anna Johannesen later reported (Billed Bladet no.45, 2008) that Isabella has started in the Sprouts. Just as Christian did, she begins in the room with the youngest children, which the day nursery calls the Sprouts. There are about ten children in the Sprouts, while Christian has of course moved on to an older group. And just as Frederik and Mary did with Christian, they started out slowly with short visits to the kindergarten before leaving Isabella there for a longer period. All the children in the kindergarten bring their own lunch and because it is an integrated institution the children also interact between different age groups. This means that Isabella and Christian will often eat lunch together. Last November it was Mary on her own who took Isabella for her first visit to the kindergarten because Frederik was out hunting. That meant Mary had to decline an invitation to go to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with Queen Margrethe and Princess Marie for the 'women's program' at the time. From the start most will recall there was a bit of a fuss at Isabella's birth, known then before her christening as 'Lille prinsesse' or as Lillepigen (little girl=lil-pea-'n) by her parents, since she was the first girl born in the Danish royal family since Queen Margrethe's youngest sister Anne-Marie was born in 1946. Prince Henrik, always keen on having lots of grandkids, pronounced himself very happy at the birth of his fourth grandchild and is no doubt eagerly looking forward to his fifth, due imminently. The Queen also expressed her joy and was seen walking across to Chancellery House to visit after Isabella arrived home. Mary and Frederik held a little welcome party for family and friends to meet the new member of the family a week after she was born. The nanny engaged to help care for Isabella was Ann-Alicia Thunbo but she has long since left the service of the family to marry (Christian's original nanny has also returned to her career as a paediatric nurse). The wish of Frederik and Mary to be the most important figures in their children's lives has come to pass, with nannies being familiar carers when necessary, but not their primary carers.
From the start Isabella has been a traveller, going to New York while Mary was still breastfeeding for a Creative Nation working visit in September 2007, she has been to Miami twice, her first visit to Australia, a couple of visits to Switzerland and various private visits including to Sweden. Some other things of note, Isabella vomited on a Se&Hør reporter at 5 months, she has a training route for joggers near Fredensborg named for her, the Princess Isabella Route, one of 500 such routes inaugurated by DR, Danish Athletics, local municipalities, Danish Physiotherapy and the Danish government, we learned she can hum all of Frère Jacques (from Anna Johannesen while in Australia) and she is called Bella by the family.

A gallery to mark Isabella's birthday:

Photos © Hanne Juul, Jesper Sunesen, Peter Grosen, All over, Birger Storm/BilledBladet, Niels Henrik Dam/Avisen.dk, SeogHør, Kjeld Navntoft/Getty/AFP, Jens Nørgaard Larsen/AFP/Getty Images, Steen Brogaard, DayLife, Billed Bladet, HerogNa.no, Henning Bagger/Berlingske Tidende, Kurt Kammersgaard/Radio Humleborg

Crown Prince & Crown Princess website gallery - after Isabella's birth, April 2007
Crown Prince & Crown Princess website gallery - Isabella's first birthday

Meanwhile, last Friday the Crown Prince Family participated in a local nursery school activity with other Fredensborg parents and kids at the Queen Louise Day Nursery attended by Christian and Isabella. It is a tradition to go in procession to visit the statue of the patron and namesake of the day nursery, Queen Louise, located in Fredensborg Castle Park, obviously aided by some dress-ups to add to the occasion. Queen Louisa was the consort to Frederik VIII and so is the great-great-great grandmother to Christian and Isabella:
LocalAvisen.dk 'Prins og Prinsessen gik i Samba-optog' - The Prince and the Princess went in a procession
About 200 children and the adults from the nursery school in Endrup went in a procession on Friday morning through Fredensborg town to the palace park.
Present in the parade were both Prince Christian and Princess Isabella with both their parents as well as the family's dog.
The Crown Prince Couple both looked like ordinary parents and were able to stay that way.
There were not too many who discovered the two.
It was busy in Fredensborg because Queen Margrethe had an official reception for three new ambassadors at Fredensborg Castle.
The ambassadors were transported from the King's suite at Fredensborg Station to the castle in a royal coach with a Hussar Guards procession to accompany them.

Humbleborg Online 'Samba optog gennem Fredensborg' - Samba procession through Fredensborg
About 200 children and parents from the [Queen Louise] Day Nursery in Endrup were in a procession through the pedestrianised street of Fredensborg with a route to the Castle park.
The goal was the statue of Dronning Louise which it has become a tradition to visit for all the children and a number of parents this Friday morning.
There was some confusion in the pedestrianised street when there was a meeting with the Hussars procession for the ambassadors attending a reception at Fredensborg Castle.
Among the many parents who participated along with the many children was the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and you could see that the Crown Prince had thrown away the crutches in favour of a "guide dog".

TV2 article 'Tillykke: Prinsesse Isabella 2 år' - Congratulatons: Princess Isabella is two
Billed Bladet 'Tillykke Isabella - to år i billeder' - Congratulations Isabella - two years in pictures

Billed Bladet gallery large gallery of Isabella from birth
Se og Hør gallery

Thanks Muhler! Thanks Valentine! Thanks jema! And, thanks mls and cph!

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Sunday 19 April 2009

Frederik in Danish Royal Yacht Club regatta to christen new training boats

Photo © Per Heegaard/Bådmagasinet Sejl
Crown Prince Frederik took part in a local regatta to christen new training yachts sailing under the auspices of the Royal Danish Yacht Club on April 18, 2009 in Rungsted, reported Bådmagasinet Sejl. The local regatta was to christen the Royal Danish Yachtclub's six new J-80 yachts. To mark the new training boats to be used by the club, the J-80s were sailed by teams made up of sponsors and well known identities in Danish yachting, including Frederik and some of his Farr 40 team mates. J-80 yachts are American J class sports racing boats for open water sailing outside harbours and lakes - the kind of water Denmark has plenty of to develop their sailing prowess. The boats were christened with the names of Nordic goddesses and so are christened Frigg, Saga, Gefion, Freyja, Fulla and Nanna.

Minbåd.dk 'Lyninterview med Kronprinsen om J/80' - Lightning interview with the Crown Prince about J/80
We talked with Crown Prince Frederik today.
It in the sailing boat press the much talked about J/80 got some extra exposure today when the Royal Danish Yacht Club invited Minbaad.dk to see their six new club boats christened, with an overall cost around DKK 2 million... Crown Prince Frederik was on the water with his Farr 40 mates, including Christian Jensen, Jesper Riise and Anders Myralf.
They took a place in the middle of the field where they emerged fastest... the Crown Prince told Minbaad.dk, "It moves nimbly, it's a very lively and light boat. I very much look forward to sailing in it again."
...The Crown Prince said he will sail the Farr 40 World Championship later this year in Sardinia. The Farr 40 team will sail in Capri in May.
The winner of the day's battle was the former America's Cup sailor Sten Mohr, who had fellow team mate Mikkel Røssberg with him, as well as Torben Bjørn Christensen.
The head of the sailing school Per Sindholt made a speech after the race and then the boats were of the Nordic goddesses so the boats are now christened
Frigg, Saga, Gefion, Freyja, Fulla and Nanna.
Congratulations KDY (Danish Royal Yacht Club), maybe other yachting clubs will replace their old training boats.

Photos © Per Heegaard/Bådmagasinet Sejl, Troels Lykke/Minbaad.dk

Thanks cph, thanks gudinde!

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Thursday 16 April 2009

Happy 69th birthday for Queen Margrethe!

Queen Margrethe is celebrating her 69th birthday today and has appeared on the Amalienborg balcony to greet, and be greeted, by thousands in Amalienborg Palace Square. The Queen was joined by Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary with Christian and Isabella, Prince Joachim, Princess Marie and Nikolai and Felix.

Photos © Hanne Juul/BilledBladet, Keld Navntoft/Berlingske Tidende (including lead photo), Jens Dige/POLFOTO/Fyens Stiftstidende, Peter Grosen/SeogHør.

Berlingske Tidende 'Dronningen fejret på Amalienborg' - The Queen popular on Amalienborg
Mikkel Sander Rydzy | April 16th 2009
Thousands were [at Amalienborg] at noon to shout hurrah! for Queen Margrethe, who turns 69 years old today.
Kindergarten children, pensioners and tourists with ready-to-shoot digital cameras made up the large assembly gathered together on Amalienborgs Slotsplads to pay tribute to Queen Margrethe shortly after noon today.
Together with husband, children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren the now 69-year-old Queen and birthday girl appeared on the balcony to the delight of the crowd.
The royal waves from the balcony were reciprocated with eager flag waving while thousands joined in cheers that the Queen herself 'conducted'.
Among those who attended was Anne Sophie Hollesen, who had brought her three children Laura, Sebastian and Carl Christian along in a Christiania bicycle. "We have come in to say congratulations to the Queen, and it isn't the first time we have beene here," Anne Sophie Hollesen says to berlingske.dk.
The two older children are free from Krebs School for the royal birthday...both Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim went there and Prince Joachim's eldest son, Nikolai is in 4th grade...
From their place in the crowd it may be difficult to catch a decent glimpse of the Queen. Maybe for this reason it's not entirely easy to decide the birthday person's age.
"I think that she will stay 100," 6-year-old big brother Sebastian says.
Big sister Laura, seven, is a little closer to the correct number.
"I think she turns 67," she says after a bit of time to think it over.
Their mother must admit that she isn't certain about the answer.
But it is in fact 69 years that Denmark's Queen reaches today.

Billed Bladet 'Hele familien bag dronningen på balkonen'
The Copenhagen Post 'Thousands wish Queen happy birthday

Berlingske Tidende gallery
Berlingske Tidende gallery - the Queen's year in review
MSN Starlounge gallery
Billed Bladet's gallery - the Queen as grandmother
B.T. Queen's birthday gallery
TV2 gallery
Fyens Stifstidende gallery

JP webTV (01:44)
DR.dk clip
TV2 clip (02:50)
SeogHør clip (01:47 - the article says it is getting crowded on the balcony but all eventually fit in, including Marie's pregnant tummy, and Isabella was especially happy to wave at the crowd - scroll down page for clip)

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