Princess Mary of Denmark’s unlikely roots in an Australian suburb

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, among her nation’s most popular royals, marks her birthday on February 5, with wishes of goodwill being sent from across the globe. While much is known about the Dane, her relationship with Australia and Scotland is often overlooked. Here, takes a look at her ties with the two countries.

Born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson in 1972, the princess was welcomed into the world in Hobart, Australia, the child of John Donaldson and Henriette Horne.

Her parents were both Scottish, married on August 31, 1963, the same year they moved from Britain to Australia. By 1974, the family had emigrated to Houston, Texas, with the royal taking a place in Clear Lake City Elementary school because of her father’s work.

Soon they were back in Australia, where Mary would attend Sandy Bay Infants School and Waimea Heights Primary School between 1975 and 1982, both in the heart of Hobart.

Her academic career saw her enroll at Taroona High School, where she excelled in sports, before taking up a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Law from the University of Tasmania in 1989.

With her career in law beginning to flourish, Mary experienced devastation when her mother Henriette died. Within six months she resigned from her job, opting instead to travel through America and Europe, visiting her parents’ homeland in Scotland.

After spending three months in Edinburgh, she returned to Australia in 1999 and started work in Sydney. It was here that her life took an unexpected turn.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark was a member of Denmark’s delegation team for the 2000 Olympic Games, which were being held in Sydney.

A delegation of Frederik and his friends, including his brother Prince Joachim and cousin Prince Nikolaus of Greece, as well as King Felipe VI of Spain, all headed to the Slip Inn, a stereotypical Aussie bar.

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After getting to know each other, the couple exchanged numbers, with Frederik calling her the next day. They would engage in a long-distance relationship, spending the next year getting to know each other.

In secret, Frederik would visit Mary in Australia, until in 2002, the Australian decided to move permanently to Europe, first settling down in Paris, France. There she taught English but soon moved to Denmark’s capital.

Their engagement was announced a year later, starting a new life for Mary as part of one of the world’s oldest royal families.

Mary and Frederik wed on May 14, 2004, with a special ceremony held at Copenhagen Cathedral, before festivities at Fredensborg Palace. In the years since, their family of two has blossomed into six, with the couple welcoming Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine to the world.

Last year, Frederik’s brother, Prince Joachim, and his family were in the headlines after their mother Queen Margrethe made the bombshell decision to strip her grandchildren of their royal titles, in a move to slim down the Danish monarchy.

As of January 1, 2023, Margrethe said, his children could only use their titles as “counts and countess of Monpezat, as opposed to prince and princess.

In a statement, the Queen said: “Prince Joachim’s descendants will thus have to be addressed as excellencies in the future. The Queen’s decision is in line with similar adjustments that other royal houses have made in various ways in recent years.

“With her decision, Her Majesty The Queen wishes to create the framework for the four grandchildren to be able to shape their own lives to a much greater extent without being limited by the special considerations and duties that a formal affiliation with the Royal House of Denmark as an institution involves.”

Reacting to his mother’s statement, Joachim told BT how “sad” his children were, and that they “don’t know which leg to stand on”.

He continued: “What they should believe. Why should their identity be removed? Why must they be punished in that way?”

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