It’s an ordinary story – during the 2000 Olympics, a young Australian woman, Mary Donaldson, goes to a pub in Sydney, where she meets and ultimately marries a man named Fred. In this case however, Fred just happens to be His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, heir apparent to the Danish throne. Being a modern princess must come with its own set of challenges, full stop, and it’s a subject I broach with the Crown Princess later in the day. Once she realised that marriage was on the horizon, was she ever daunted by the fact that she was about to join a monarchy, and leave behind her previous life? Crown Princess Mary looks reflective.
“I’m the sort of person that takes things as they come,” she answers thoughtfully. “I never look too far ahead of myself. The way I came into this situation was gradual. By the point marriage was a consideration, I was too far gone on the personal side to turn back. I was beyond the point of return. I knew I could deal with this because I was in it for all the right reasons. I am with the person that I love.”“But of course there were times when my best friend and I used to joke about it. ‘How did I get myself into this mess?’” she laughs. “It was almost too surreal to actually think about at times. The word surreal is probably one of my most commonly used words right now! So I am lucky that I am of that nature where I tend to take things as they come, otherwise I may have run away from it. Maybe? But I wasn’t in his world, I didn’t see him in his everyday world. I was in Australia. So it came about from a pure place, from love. You really don’t know exactly how you’re going to react in a situation until you’re in that moment so it’s important to focus on that moment.”
I ask her if she believes in destiny. Surely hers is a story that illustrates it more than most?
“Destiny is a very big question, I think it’s a comforting and helpful thing to have some belief in. It gives you some comfort, that there’s some reason behind why things happen the way they do. Not only the good but also the bad. If you experience a large grief in your life, in order to understand it and accept it, you have to believe that there is a reason behind this, something bigger.”
As we head down the drive to return to Copenhagen, I glance back at the vast and imposing palace, flanked by uniformed guards. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a princess, and it is extraordinary. But then, Crown Princess Mary is not an ordinary woman. She had exactly what it takes to be modern royalty all along. Crown Prince Frederik just had to go to Sydney to find her.
Vogue Australia December 2004
I love this spread which was written less than a year after Crown Prince Frederik and Mary’s wedding in 2004. It’s a classy introduction to the Australian-born, now Danish Princess’s new life abroad.
I think the Duchess of Cambridge could have benefitted hugely had she done something similar after her nuptials in 2011. Maybe someday.
Features like this give royals a great opportunity to share a more intimate look at their lives, while controlling the terms.
When done right, Vogue and other magazine spreads can be a brilliant move for monarchs.