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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Blogger Europa said...

Is there a way to get an actual copy of the article?

8:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, see what you mean about the editorial!

Interesting article - it's interesting to see it from a non-Monarchy-fan point of view ... but it's like all things, when you know the background and someone makes such flippant remarks, it does make you cross!

Thanks for sharing.

4:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this article, and the editor's letter, quite dismissive and I was a bit annoyed. The one line about leaving the palace and going back to the modern world especially. The royal world is part of the modern world, especially for those of us who live in countries with royal families. I find it to be a very arrogant position that just because royals don't make sense to American society, it must therefore be an outdated and weird.

"We didn't mind showing respect to the country and its traditions, but we figured we deserved some in return. Denmark has five million people, which is good. PARADE has 70 million readers, which is better." I'm sorry but this is a ridiculous statement. Respect should be given based on population size? So China should be the most respected nation on earth then? And no one deserves respect; they earn it. The attitude of this editor is so very arrogant. It's so nice that they "didn't mind showing respect". How patronizing of them! Imagine, going into someone else's home and deigning to show that person respect!

"We're American, after all, and not among those willing to bow and scrape."

Well, anyone with the respect for the culture and history of the nation they are visiting, as this editor claims do be, would be willing to "bow and scrape" as is the custom. A bow or curtsy isn't an act of submission any more than a handshake is unless you make it one. It is just a way of saying hello. Like a salute in the military.

And Americans are willing to "bow and scrape". Look at the reverence reserved for the President and the first family. If it were the custom to bow to a president you can bet there would be people who would. Anyone who thinks there isn't a hierarchy in the States like there is in Europe is a fool. There is a reason names like Hearst, Rockefeller or Guggenheim mean something.

5:02 am  
Blogger lotte said...

Europa, according to the website the info is as follows:
To purchase a back issue of PARADE Magazine from 1995 to the present, please send a letter indicating the issue you would like. Because of the volume of requests, there is a $3.00 service and handling charge for each back issue requested. For issues prior to 1995, we will send you a photocopy of the article you are requesting if we do not have an original issue. The cost for a photocopied article is $1.50. To obtain reprints and back issues, send your request, along with the prepaid service and handling charge (check or money order made payable to Parade Publications) to:

Reprints and Back Issues
711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017-4014

IMPORTANT: In order to find an article published prior to January 2000, we will need certain information. The best thing you could supply us with is the EXACT ISSUE DATE. If that is not possible, we will need a VERY CLOSE guess. If you are unable to supply us with a date, we will need the MAIN SUBJECT or SUBJECTS that the story might have been filed under at the time it appeared. Our records before 1988 are filed by SUBJECT only. It would also be helpful if you could supply us with the WRITER'S NAME and any FAMOUS EVENTS, FAMOUS THINGS and/or WELL KNOWN PEOPLE who appeared in the story.

Check the contact and FAQ page here: http://www.parade.com/faq/faq.html

To Jenny re the editorial - yes, I think you are right. We follow more closely so general media stories are frequently incorrect or just plain wrong.

Anon re the editorial. It is most likely just a total ignorance about Denmark in the first instance and royalty in the second. There is an assumption there that a republic is best. There is also an assumption that U.S. citizens don't bow and scrape as an ideal notion - there are plenty of examples of money producing all sorts of strange behaviours, including bowing and scraping from my observation ;)

4:29 pm  
Anonymous Nicole - CA USA said...

It was a complete shock to see their picture on the front page! My husband almost threw it away accidentaly - how dare he! (Poor guy - I'm sure he is tired of hearing about royal families! - oh well!!) The article was very flippant and so out of touch with royalty, let alone Denmark. The editorial was outrageous! You could tell that they didn't know the subject that they were writing about. It was very nice to see TRH though and was very grateful for their openess with our US press. *Ü*

7:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Crown Prince Frederiks 'mum'? He is apparently confused himself...is it the Queen of England, or the other one?

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the blog,

1:21 am  
Blogger lotte said...

1. Nicole - ^_^
2. Anon - your funny bone playing up too?
3. Anon - Thanks :)

4:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK...totally off-topic and seemingly superficial comment here...Fred is HOT! All the more so for his lack of pretension and sense of humour :) Can't resist a man with a sense of humour. And as though that weren't enough, his comment about being hands-on raising his kids...*faint* Good thing that Mary is as Hot as he is :) What a lovely couple...

1:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ususally I enjoy your news blog, Lotte, but your comments about the author and editor of this article is a bit harsh.

What ever happened to your fair and balanced commentaries?


8:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No American IS willing to "bow and scrape" to anyone. Royal, President, or whomever. It is actually UNAmerican.

8:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no bowing whatsoever!!! i cant believe mary bowed to margethe the first time. its pointless unless you are a citizen of said country.

8:16 pm  
Blogger Europa said...

Lotte, thank you so much for information on how to get a copy. I very much appreciate it. Thanks.

6:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an American living in the United States. We need to understand that as great as our country can be, we are not the only ones on the planet. We really ought to show respect to other countries and how they operate if we are wanting respect in return. Respect begets Respect. I love this blog and check it daily! Thank you so much for helping this American from Oklahoma understand European Royalty! God bless you very much! (I guess I should get a blogger account! :-) )

9:59 pm  
Blogger Diana Brito said...

I am an American and a proud American at that. If I were ever to have the pleasure of meeting any member of the royal family in a formal setting I would curtsy, bow or whatever showed respect. Because etiquette encourages you borrow the custom of the culture which you are greeting. At least that is how I have been raised.

Many of us here in the US are fascinated and love the many royal families - but just like there are people like me there are many who are ignorant due to lack of knowledge. The article wasn't bad for such a rag of a paper. Too bad they weren't interviewed by a more respectable publication. But none-the-less, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary are wonderful representatives for their Denmark. As a PR consultant I think they are more of an asset than a liability.

Forgive me but if it wasn't for Princess Mary I may not have followed this blog or for that matter the royal family of Denmark. I now know so much more about Denmark and its wonderful people.

During the time I have read this blog I have been quite interested in the negative comments toward Princess Mary by the commentators. As if it really mattered how often she visits her family in Australia, or that she and her husband spoke to Australian athletes at the Olympics. Or the ridiculous comparisons to Princess Marie. What I care about is that this is a young vibrant couple, who obviously love one another, they have dear children, they seem to love their people and will someday rule their country. They, in a way, give me hope.

Thank you for your time and allowing me to comment. I read your blog just about every day...

Diana from San Francisco

6:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

1:00 am  
Blogger Michelle said...

hey, just so you all know - IT'S A PRINCE!!!!!!!!

Princess Marie had a baby boy this morning. News just broke, details still coming in... can't wait to see what all you manage to track down & translate & point us to! I'm finding tons in danish but that doesn't do me any good. :-P

- michelle

6:37 am  
Anonymous Iris said...

Very nice picture!

2:37 pm  
Blogger Islay said...

I agree that you are being unusually harsh with the author for such a small and unimportant article. I used to enjoy your even and unbiased manner in this blog, but more and more it seems overly critical and more biased than ever. I, too, am disappointed.

4:22 am  
Anonymous Glenda said...

I love them both there great amazing there nose is not so high up in the air like some of them! Remember he human just like us! Everyone make mistake so what he say the Queen of England is his mum who cares! At else he corrected himself! Why make a big thing out it! Look at the larger pictures in life! Stop picking on small stuffs life get a life if your one these people's! So many humans look for the small things, get a life and live and enjoy! I love that fact he came from history's get there traditon making it ok too be all differents in this world cos we real are that just face it been like this for long time! Yes in the future but it nice to have the pass also! I think it wonderful! I love them Both The Royals Family in Danish! Love Glenda from Canada Toronto!!

5:33 am  

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