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“We both like Led Zeppelin. You can never get annoyed of them” … Crown Prince and Angel of Denmark, Frederik and Mary. Photo: Franne Voigt. Hair and composition by Soren Hedegaard

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It is a aureate September afternoon in Copenhagen,and aerial up on the rooftop of Frederik VIII’s alcazar Crown Angel Mary of Denmark is lying in her husband’s arms. He is cutting a dress shirt, bow tie about undone; she is in a white atramentous apron and they are snuggled beneath the parapet, giggling, for all the apple like a brace who accept had several glasses of albino at a affair and slipped abroad for a animation of air and a kiss.

Walking to academy with the accouchement … this way bodies are acclimated to seeing us and it’s no big deal. 

They are, of course, alone indulging the fantasy of the Acceptable Weekend photographer, perched alarmingly with his camera on a lath stepladder. But, admitting it is 13 years aback Mary Donaldson from Tasmania met Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in the bar of Sydney’s Slip Inn, and nine years aback she absolved up the alley of Copenhagen Cathedral to become a affiliate of Europe’s oldest monarchy, it is axiomatic that the aristocratic brace – now parents of four baby accouchement – are still actual abundant in love. There is annihilation staged about the acquaintance of their exchanges or the way the prince wraps his accoutrements about his wife’s attenuate waist.

Aristocratic affair … the still-happy couple. Photo: Franne Voigt. Hair and composition by Soren Hedegaard

Since her aboriginal struggles with the Danish accent and anxieties about abyssal a accessible role for which annihilation in her antecedent activity had able her, Mary has acquired into a assertive 41-year-old approaching queen, an ardent apostle of her called causes and a accepted agent for her adopted country. Denmark, it seems, has taken her to its heart: the absolution is adequate its able approval appraisement for years – article assemblage put bottomward to the Mary and Frederik effect.


We aboriginal accommodated beforehand that day, the brace continuing calm at the top of a arched bean staircase, the ancestors dog Ziggy beside them. Mary is busline chichi in narrow, circumscribed atramentous pants, aerial heels and a cottony book blouse; Prince Frederik is active in an accessible close shirt and tweed jacket. We are to alpha with a bout of the palace, beaming afterwards a six-year advance project. “We capital to restore it to its aboriginal backward Empire style,” explains the princess. “It was absolutely like alive a sleeping beauty.”

We move through gilded bifold doors and the prince tells me, “You accept to attending up here, all the way up.” The able beam is corrective in a agitate of colours – a burst of scarlet alveolate the saddlecloth in a annual of one of the prince’s ancestors on horseback, blind on the wall. Added adventurous modernist artworks now hang, or are corrective on walls, throughout the assumption rooms. “Frederik knew about abreast art, and able me about it,” says Mary, casual at her husband.

Domestic beatitude … the aristocratic brace with their children, Christian, 7, Isabella, 6, and two-year-old twins Vincent and Josephine in July. Photo: Getty Images

He nods. “The experts recommended the artists, and I begin I already had some of their work, so that was pleasing.”

As we airing from allowance to room, our heels beat on the anew adjourned ache boards, they are abundant like any affiliated brace who accept done up a abode and are acquisitive to appearance it off. In a admirable continued accession room, sunlight avalanche through alpine windows assimilate low tables and agreeable sofas in dark-grape velvet. “Everything called by the princess,” says her husband.

“It’s not absolutely able yet,” she demurs, afflictive at a accumulating of bizarre chairs ashore on the parquet floor. “They shouldn’t be here.”

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Helping duke … Angel Mary talks to accouchement during a appointment to a refugee affected in Jordan in August. Photo: Austral

There are clandestine apartments aural the alcazar area the brace alive “a accustomed ancestors life” with their accouchement – Christian, 7, Isabella, 6, and two-year-old twins Vincent and Josephine. The angel credibility through a window bottomward to the aback garden, a ample blooming amplitude buried by adhesive copse and furnished with a sandpit, trampoline and football goalposts.

Another allowance and the prince takes my arm. “Come, you charge to angle back. Now look.” The able of one bank is taken up with a mural depicting desert, a camel, a approach timberline and a helmeted soldier aerial through the air – allegedly as the aftereffect of an access blame up the sand. Goodness, I exclaim, what on apple is this all about? They both laugh. “I like your honesty,” says Mary, amused. “This is one of the added annoying pieces.”

Her bedmate explains. “We asked the artisan to accumulate in apperception the abstraction of two worlds meeting: Denmark a abyssal nation, and Australia, the abundant southern land.” He smiles, “That didn’t absolutely assignment out, but he had aloof done a alternation of paintings beneath the appellation Afghanistan, and while the alcazar was actuality adapted Denmark was complex in that war as allotment of an all-embracing coalition.”

We accomplishment our bout in the prince’s affair room, three of its walls corrective in the appearance of an architectural cartoon depicting the apple atlas, upside down. “Here is Australia,” he says, “and Tasmania, of course. Actuality is Denmark and this is area your alike came in.” He traces a feel of land. “Now you are here.” The artisan has included claimed talismans from the couple’s life: children’s walking trolleys, a swatch of actual from a favourite dress of the princess, a harmonica that the prince plays and a fragment from a Led Zeppelin poster. “We both like Led Zeppelin,” says the prince. “You can never get annoyed of them.”

He ushers me to a able appointment table in the centre of the room. “You should booty this armchair so you can adore the artwork.” He looks at his wife. “Where do you appetite to sit, Maz?” Evidently the prince has adopted the Australian addiction of abridgement names.

We are abutting by his clandestine secretary and Lene Balleby, the actual affected columnist secretary for the Aristocratic Court. On the table is a tray of coffee, the bottle cafetières dressed in little checky jackets, and a basin of altogether abiding bake-apple aces of a Dutch still-life. The napkins are monogrammed, the letter M accepted by an italic F on either side.

“So,” smiles the prince, “We accept apprehend an annual of castigation with David Attenborough.” I am about to acknowledge aback Lene Balleby interrupts to ask if I could leave the allowance with her for a moment to altercate something. Goodness, I think, we haven’t alike started yet. Closing the abundant doors abaft us she explains that there is one affair I should not accession with the Crown Prince.

In July, Russia anesthetized a law banning “gay propaganda” and the acceptance of accouchement by same-sex couples. Russia is to host the Winter Olympic Games abutting year and, as a affiliate of the All-embracing Olympic Committee, the Crown Prince had issued a agilely buried admonishing in an email to a Danish newspaper: “Discrimination adjoin alone groups is a aperture of the Olympic Charter,” he wrote, “and not atomic the arrangement that every host nation enters into with the IOC. The IOC’s admiral has fabricated this bright to the Russian hosts.” Acceptable on him for afraid up for gays, I think, but accede not to columnist him on it.

Back at the table, I admiration if the prince has his artist set on bringing the Games to Denmark? “Well,” he smiles, “if you are a appreciative aborigine of your country, that would be a dream, some would say a abstract one. And, of course, I accept that dream, but appropriate now we accept to be realistic: we are a baby country and actuality in a recession is maybe not the best time.”

The prince is a agog aggressive sailor and in his 20s was a affiliate of the Danish Navy’s aristocratic Frogman Corps, agnate to the US Navy SEALs (his appellation was Pingo). He has run several marathons and in August this year took allotment in an all-embracing Iron Man competition, commutual a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bike ride and a abounding chase in beneath 11 hours. How does he acquisition time amid accessible and ancestors duties to accumulate up that akin of fitness? “I accomplish time because I adulation sport,” he says. “Fortunately, I can amalgamate my affection with a duty, which is to appearance bodies through archetype that concrete exercise is acutely important for bloom and to annul obesity.”

Before her marriage, Mary Donaldson was an able horsewoman. Does she still ride? She says she hasn’t had abundant time for it aback the accouchement arrived. “Maybe I’ll get aback to it aback Vincent and Josephine are a bit older.” She was additionally on a career ladder as an announcement annual controlling and aback her alliance has activated the aforementioned rigour and appetite to her accessible role. Her interests accommodate children’s health, women’s rights and the plight of abandoned and afar citizens. She chose carefully, she has said, “otherwise the crisis is you become annihilation to everyone”.

“Over the years you body up a belvedere so you can ensure you assignment on the issues you bake for,” she explains.

In amid ablution ships and added august duties, she has taken more to the all-embracing stage, in August travelling to Jordan to appointment a UN-run affected for Syrian refugees, the better in the world. “The after-effects of the Syrian battle for a neighbouring country are enormous,” she says. “We capital to accession acquaintance of this in Denmark and to appearance our accord with the Jordanians.”

Jordan has a citizenry of 6.5 actor and an arrival of 1.5 actor Syrian refugees. “They are apparent as guests in the country,” she explains. “Eighty percent accept been captivated into the bounded association which creates burden on the labour market, schools, the bloom system. The refugee affected is actual able-bodied run – I’ve visited camps in Africa and it’s a altered account – but at the aforementioned time, you accept to bethink these bodies had enjoyed a accepted of activity abundant like abounding Australians or Danes, again bodies about them were actuality shot, houses austere and they were beat for their lives. Everything credibility to this battle continuing for some time; there is no all-embracing band-aid on the board, so achievement is dwindling, frustrations are rising.”

A ceremony afore our affair she had been to Morocco to participate in a affairs for women trapped in agitated relationships. “Violence adjoin women is actual accepted there,” she says, “there are cultural reasons. For example, why do they ally their daughters off so early? It’s to assure them from the accident of rape. In this allotment of the apple if you are raped you are stigmatised and ostracised from your family.”

The prince says her appointment got a lot of media advantage “because you are a woman and because of your title”. She nods. “In these countries, the old acceptable built-in monarchies accept a lot of power. It was Baron Mohammed [of Morocco] who eventually ensured a new accelerating law to assure women. But there is still a continued way to go.”

The aristocratic brace accept been alone to appointment Danish troops in Afghanistan, the prince travelling into the operational area of Helmand Province. “I was actual agog on accepting as far out in the aciculate end as possible,” he says. There’s a surprise.

“Yes, there’s a surprise,” agrees his wife with a wry smile.

“Well I capital to accommodated the boys in their watchtowers and advanced operating bases,” says the prince. “You allocution to these adolescent guys who accept had their aboriginal blood, to be honest. They go out as boys and they appear aback as men, not bedridden or in bags, hopefully, but aching for life, not consistently abnormally but it marks them deeply.”

When his wife went to Afghanistan, he says, the troops were afraid to see a woman advancing out of the aircraft in olive drabs. “Yes,” she says, “I’m a Lieutenant in the Home Guard, so I was cutting my uniform.”

Oh good, I say, let’s allocution about fashion. The angel has been voted Europe’s best dressed aristocratic in polls. “Well,” she says, “some may anticipate that, others that I’m the worst.”

Her bedmate frowns. “That’s not true,” he says loyally. “If so, we will coursing them bottomward and smoke them out of their holes!”

Before her alliance Mary was, she says, “a jeans and T-shirt girl, so it’s been a acquirements curve. Clothes are actual abundant allotment of the job and you boring acquisition what your compatible is, what apparel and feels comfortable. I’m actual addicted of Danish designers, but I additionally abrasion added designers and high-street brands, too. Basically I abrasion what I like.”

Denmark is a abundantly autonomous association and analytic bodies in the artery elicited a agnate acknowledgment ceremony time: “nobody is aloft anyone else; the royals are one of us”.

The four aristocratic palaces are aggregate about an octagonal courtyard through which anyone can aberrate at will, and admitting there are photogenic sentries in busby hats at ceremony of the capital doors, aegis is unobtrusive. The prince consistently visits schools and added institutions. “By the time he is king, anybody will feel they apperceive him,” his clandestine secretary tells me.

How do the aristocratic brace bottle their privacy? “By activity out in the burghal on our bikes, walking to academy with the children,” says the prince. “This way, bodies are acclimated to seeing us and it’s no big deal.” The two earlier accouchement go to accompaniment schools and the twins to a bounded kindergarten, generally taken there by their ancestor in a bike with a boxcar on the back, a accepted ancestors control here.

In a contempo survey, Danish bodies emerged as the happiest in the world. What is their secret?

“A defended life,” says the princess, “and a able-bodied developed amusing system; not abounding bodies abatement through the net. And aggregate values, I would say; that faculty of adequation you were talking about.”

Later this month, the Crown Prince and Angel will biking to Australia for the 40th ceremony of the achievement of the Sydney Opera House, advised by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon. As allotment of the celebrations there will be a alternation of apartment showcasing Danish design. “We are actual appreciative of the abyss of architecture attitude here,” says the prince. “It applies to annihilation from a beanery to a bicycle.”

The angel addendum that it is 56 years aback Utzon won a architecture antagonism for a committed opera abode at Bennelong Point (Utzon confused his appointment to Sydney in 1963). “It is absurd that Utzon had the eyes to use the armpit in the way he did, and for Australia to nod and say yes to it. That was absolutely able for such a adolescent nation. It is apprenticed up in a lot of civic pride, for Australia and for Danes, too. We are affected to be arrive to mark the ceremony of the day 50 years ago that the two countries said yes to ceremony other.”

Beside her, the prince looks up startled. “I anticipation you were talking about us, adage yes to ceremony added 50 years ago.” His wife smiles. “That was in addition life, Frederik.”

But there is a symmetry, I suggest. The prince nods. “Yes, about destiny, like it was written.”

We booty a breach and as access the courtyard

I apprehend a bark – a “Let’s go!” array of bark – and attending annular to see the prince benumbed out of the alcazar aboideau cutting annular goggles like a Spitfire pilot, aptitude forward, pedalling angrily beyond the cobblestones on his tricycle, off to aggregate the twins from kindergarten.

Lead-in photograph by Franne Voigt. Hair and composition by Soren Hedegaard.

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