Perhaps people expect too much of public figures who are presented in fairy-tale terms. Whilst it’s true that royals tend to have to display a happy public face 24/7, which most of us don’t and there’s no such thing as a sickie, domestic pressures are eased, although they’re still there and for the same reasons.
There has been gathering comment about the Danish young royals which seems to have spread beyond the pages of the hatebloggers and Women’s Weekly and there have been various flags here and there.
Mary Donaldson is of that set which is the closest Australia has to an aristocracy, her manners would be impeccable but she’d be feisty and would know what she wanted. I had a certain time with that set and they are upper middle, a quite distinct group from the middle-middle.
Mary Donaldson, a young lady from Tasmania, has caused a sensation with the tabloids in Denmark and Australia . Mary Donaldson is an ordinary, good looking and energetic young woman whose life has changed dramatically since meeting the Crown Prince in Sydney at the Olympics.
Mary Donaldson accompanied her flat mate Andrew Miles and his friend Beatrice Tarnawski to the Slip Inn. It turned out to be the same night that the Danish women’s handball team were at the Slip Inn celebrating their gold medal.
Also present was Princess Martha of Norway, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Prince Frederik of Denmark and his brother Joachim. At the time Mary was working as an advertising director for Young and Rubicam.
Mary was introduced to Frederik the Crown Prince of Denmark by the Spanish Crown Prince Felipe who knew her flatmates’ sister. Mary and Frederik instantly were attracted to one another and spent the rest of the evening laughing and talking.
The two discovered that they had a lot in common including a love of the outdoors, sports, adventure and horse riding.
The big decision was made, the move was made, the learning of Danish was done. It was a fairytale romance and wedding:
The children came along – one, two, twins and Mary grew older, perhaps not quite as well as he did.
There’s a reason for saying that. The context is his younger brother who was married to a woman five years his elder whom he’d met at a disco in Hong Kong – disco ducks the two of them, which has implications for stability of marriages.
She endeared herself to the Danes, being a mix of various races inc. Chinese, English, German and she spoke the latter two fluently. This in turn made Danish easier for her to learn and many Danes said she spoke almost without accent. It was a huge factor in Denmark.
Into this came Mary who did not speak Danish and had no grasp of languages per se. She’s done well to learn it from scratch but is not quite Alexandra, Joachim’s wife. She also lacks the common touch or even the effusive maternal instinct of Alexandra.
For whatever reasons, the Joachim/Alexandra marriage went sour and one of the indicators speculated about by a Dane on a blog I read was that the King and Queen, far from disowning the woman, actually kept her on the civil list and let her retain part of her title. She settled in Denmark with a new man.
The divorce was brought on by Joachim – she had taken to putting him down publicly, becoming cranky and morose. Some Danes have speculated that the way the King and Queen fell over themselves for her is that Joachim was at fault, i.e. unfaithful.
There were suggestions that he, being five years younger than her, was looking for someone more like the new Mary of his older brother’s.
A Danish commenter shows how Alexandra was viewed, a tough act for Mary to follow:
Alexandra was a wonderful asset to the Danish royal family. She knew how to be the perfect princess for us. She is warm, smart, kind. She learned Danish quickly and well. She speaks perfectly Danish. There is no comparison with the horrible choice of Frede for wife. It is not comparable.
This “wonderful asset” appears to have involved Joachim in a messy divorce and taken him to the cleaners and yet she is still revered. Interesting.
Frederik and Mary have been copybook royals around the world, Mary has apparently been an exemplary mother and yet all begins to seem not well in the state of Denmark.
Women’s Weekly brought rumours of a split with F and M but how would they know? Plus one of the scandal blogs saying there were marital problems but it had photos which seemed to suggest things were OK between the two.
Certainly the Danes have been grumbling about Mary’s excessive spending on the public purse, with Fred not far behind. Given that he has no assets of his own as yet and she was a salaried employee in Australia, they are dependent on the public purse and the Danes expect her to be the Princess Di of style.
One commenter wrote:
The Royal House Of Denmark 2005 annual reports showed the princess and her husband Crown Prince Federik’s private expenditure totalled $933,000 last year – $167,000 above their yearly budget of $3.4m.The fashionable royal is a style icon in Denmark and enjoys splashing out on designer labels.
According to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, on top of spending $2500 a day on clothes, shoes and furniture, the social couple also racked up a party bill of $212,000.While Mary may be refusing to cut the spending, her mother-in-law, Queen Margarethe, is making very public savings.
Last week the monarch’s budget cuts were criticised by the royal chef, who quit in disgust over heating up left over food for the royals. The Japanese-born chef, Takashi Kondo, saw the royal food budget reduced by £8,500.
Although the maths there is all over the place, the point remains that the King and Queen are making public savings … and the young ‘uns are not. Not even trying to. Which brings on these sorts of comments:
I think that is brilliant for the Danish press to put the two of them in an article together. If ever there was a time for Mary to consider what she’s doing to the image of the Danish monarchy, this should ring as a clarion. But I doubt she will take the hint now, or ever. It is a very good, very accurate comparison, and shows what happens to people who have no innate sense of culture, refinement, duty and responsibility marry into a high-profile family. They only think of themselves and continue blissfully spending money as if there were no bottom to the coffers.
This though begged to disagree and pointed out that she has the second lowest salary in the palace.
A poll syndicated around the world had her voted by 68% as the most stylish royal in the world. The public don’t seem to mind that – it’s the excess they have trouble with, as reported by their avidly read press. Princesses do spend but she appears to have gone beserk, the most criticized being the Birkin bag she had with her in Uganda. Estimates range from $AU5000 to tens of thousands for that item.
Ostentatious flashing of wealth in a third world country, which a born to royalty figure would not do beyond the normal pomp and circumstance. Di was expensive but not profligate. Not whilst still under The Firm. Kate keeps it within limits so far.
One Danish commenter wrote:
I’ll bet their private quarters are the cluttered mess of hoarders.
On a visit to Tasmania, she specifically shouted, in Danish, at the Danish media and demanded they leave, something she did not do with the other media. They bitterly resented the snub and have been getting stuck into her since then. The public is affected by the drip, drip, drip of negativity and many bloggers began joining in the chorus.
The book the Women’s Weekly quoted was the source of the split rumours. She read a few pages and threw it down in disgust. She knows she has enemies.
Then came the altered pre-nup. She’d signed one before marrying but this was brought to her already married and after having children:
PRINCESS Mary has been forced to change her prenuptial agreement in an embarrassing backdown to the Danish royal family.
Days before flying to Australia for her recent tour, Mary agreed to remove passages from her original agreement that ordered Prince Frederik to pay for a “new suitable house” if they divorced. A clause saying Frederik had to pay a one-time sum of money to his wife as a supplement to her new household was also removed.
The embarrassing details have been leaked to Denmark’s racy Ekstrabladet morning newspaper and reveal the fragile nature of the Danish royal family’s finances.
The new prenup, it is believed, is a response to the recent bitter experience of Frederik’s younger brother Prince Joachim following his divorce from Princess Alexandra. It is also a response to the startling revelation that Prince Frederik would be unable to pay for a house, in or out of Denmark, if he ever faced a divorce.
Despite being heir to the throne, he has no assets.
The new prenup was registered in court the day before the couple flew to Tasmania and is the same as the original except for the two removed passages.
The only good news for Mary, pregnant with the couple’s second child, is that despite the removal of the clauses, section 56 of Danish law promises her alimony if the pair split.
You might read that as an insurance clause for what he sees as inevitable or the family firm does but I read it more as a hint to her that if she gets itchy feet or goes grumpy at Fred’s roving eye, there’s not a lot out there for a post-40 year old non-princess.
Given the matriarchy we now live in though, she’d be sure to be able to resume her former work and much else as a result of the past ten years. Certainly in Australia.
She was recently interviewed and indicated that, now 40, she has no plans to do anything but continue what she’s doing.
So why is there a suggestion all is not well?
She’s grumpy, morose, she’s been increasingly distanced in public, he puts his arm around her in public, she keeps her hands to the front or by her side, her eyes are not on him much of the time. Yet some photos belie that.
The anti-Mary media is vociferous and calls her cold, non-maternal, a money-grubber and of all that, she was certainly never effusive, he was the one in love with her, she was doing the Jacquie Onassis in many eyes. To me, that’s the Danish media getting its claws in. Once that starts, there’s no way back.
One thing the couple are locked into and there’s no real way out is the adulation of the young and the average Dane and Australian, plus quite a few in other countries.
I don’t accept they don’t work, sponging off the people.
Their excessive spending is certainly sponging but their meeting and greeting does have a place. Many Danish street questions have revealed that the average Dane, whilst cynical and irreverent in general, nevertheless see these two as good value for money, drawing attention to the nation and fulfilling their figurehead roles. They do bring money in, however much is your guess.
My bet is that they’ll stay together, provided he can curb the roving eye. The difficulty there is that he is linked to two young Danish women, one whom many thought was in line to be his betrothed but she was dropped at the Slip Inn that day. He’s apparently been seeing her. There’s another former flame as well.
And this becomes cyclical. If she becomes morose and shrewish about it, which she’d have every right to be, it would only send him into the arms of one of the others. She doesn’t have a similar advantage, lumbered as she is with four children.
So, ten years down the track from the fairytale wedding, they’re still together, still appearing in public to adoring crowds but the storm clouds are there in the distance. Whether they can come to some terms on matters between them – your guess is as good as mine.