Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has met the woman many consider to be the role model for her future: Princess Mary of Denmark, wife of Crown Prince Frederik.
William and Kate arrived in Copenhagen on November 2nd to take part in their first joint humanitarian mission. They travelled to the Danish capital to support Unicef's East Africa appeal and toured the organisation's emergency supply centre. In a royal double act, they were accompanied by Mary and Frederik.
Prince William and Catherine on the East African drought crisis.
A decade apart, Mary could pass for Kate’s older sister. Both are slim, elegant, stylish women with tumbling dark hair and similar make-up, and both were plucked from obscurity to become future queens when they married their princes.
Just a generation ago, neither would have been considered suitable for such elevated positions, but the massive social changes that swept through Europe in recent times have meant that they are not just acceptable but immensely popular and a real asset to the monarchies they have joined.
Kate’s tale is well known, thanks to biographers like TMR co-founder Andrew Morton, but Mary’s is less familiar. She was born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson in Tasmania in 1972, to a middle class family. Also like Kate, she loved sports, especially hockey, and went to university. She held several posts with advertising agencies before moving into real estate in Sydney in 2000. And then fate stepped in.
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark was with his team and his royal pal Prince Nicolas of Greece at the Sydney Olympics and on September 16th they retired to the trendy Slip Inn for a drink. Legend has it that Mary was at a loose end that night, but her friends chivvied her into going out They too decided on the Slip Inn and, just like the song ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, the Crown Prince really did see a stranger across a crowded room. Within hours they exchanged phone numbers, he called her the next day, and so the romance began.
Handsome and dashing, Frederik was nothing at all like the brooding Prince of Denmark of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’: he was a bit of a tearaway, a playboy of the western world, with a fondness for pretty models.
He and his younger brother, Joachim, had been reared in an overly strict manner at the Royal Court by their mother Queen Margrethe, known to other royal families as ‘Daisy’, and the their French born father Henrik. Joachim had married Hong Kong businesswoman Alexandra Manley but they divorced after having two sons. He later married Marie Cavallier, who also bears a distinct resemblance to Princess Mary, and the couple expect their second child in the New Year.
To continue their romance, Mary moved to Copenhagen where she worked for Microsoft, while getting to know her future country and learn its language.
In a fairytale union of a prince and a commoner, Frederick and Mary, married in an elaborate ceremony in Copenhagen Cathedral in May 2004.
They now have four children, Christian (6), Isabella (4), and twins Vincent and Josephine, born earlier this year. The couple were seen recently dancing at a ball in New York, celebrating 100 years of the American-Scandinavian Foundation. Whenever they go to Mary’s homeland, Australia, they are ensured a rapturous welcome.
The fascinating story of the Royal House of Denmark is told in ‘1015 COPENHAGEN K - Mary's Dysfunctional In-Laws’ [Kindle Edition] by Trine Villemann from Amazon.