Danish Royal Watchers

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Berlingske Tidende December 2007 interview blog links

Photo © Steen Brogaard/© Berlingske Tidende

New interview with Frederik & Mary

Steen Brogaard's Berlingske Tidende photo series

Linda Henriksen's Berlingske Tidende photo series

Christian & Isabella: he's mild & she's wild B.T.'s summary of the interview

Berlingske Tidende chapter 1 translation (thanks ambiDK!)

Berlingske Tidende chapter 2 translation (thanks Muhler!)


Saturday, 29 December 2007

Berlingske Tidende chapter 2 translation

Photo © Berlingske Tidende/© Linda Henriksen

Chapter Two

"We want to be a regent couple in our own individual way"
Written by Karen Margrethe Schelin

Published in Berlinske Tidende 23 December 2007

The Crown Prince Couple try to find their own individual way to be a regent couple. In this chapter they talk about the demands upon them as a future regent couple. About observing and soaking up, really absorbing as much as they can from the Queen and the Prince Consort, about having an aim regarding social issues and about frustration that at some point the Crown Princess was practically made synonymous with fashion.

The Crown Prince Couple have had a bit of a rough night. Princess Isabella has kept her parents awake several times. But like all seasoned parents of small children they quickly shake off the fatigue and give no hint of complaint about it.

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik even look in surprisingly good form when we sit in front of each other in their private rooms in the Chancellery House.

The interview takes place the day after Crown Princess Mary visited the Heart Association, where she took part in the handing out of funds for the benefit of research in relation to children suffering from heart afflictions. After the official schedule the Crown Princess went for a trip to Tivoli with the “heart children”. She also went on a rollercoaster with the children.

“What we do may seem like a small thing. But we get a response that is so much greater and in that way it feels like a present that we can do something special with them. And it should be understood in the right way. Its not like we are walking around and performing magic or being something special. We get a tremendous lot back, such as when for instance you learn that you have made a big difference for a small child who met you and sat in the merry go round with you - that she is riding high on that with good spirits and for a short moment has forgotten all about her problems,” says Crown Princess Mary.

The Crown Prince Couple is getting increasingly involved in social affairs.

The Crown Princess is, among other things, patron for a number of associations and organisations with a social aim and lately she has founded the Mary Foundation. The Crown Prince is, among many others, patron for Save the Children and is attached to the Red Cross, with a recent appearance as the up front public face of the Red Cross in a TV campaign.

Q: Is a new social profile for the DRF emerging?

The Crown Prince: “It may be perceived that way. But if you look at my grandmother Queen Ingrid, she was very engaged in social issues. She has, not least of all, left an indelible touch of joy and comfort and also not least, love, in Southern Jutland [to which she was very attached]. Actually I think she was very engaged in social issues for her time. She got involved in issues that were relevant back then – for example polio, which was a big issue right after the Second World War. I also believe she was involved in Mødrehjælpen (Mothers Help). The DRF has always had a tradition of getting involved in social issues, but perhaps it is experienced as something new because male members of the DRF are getting involved as well. That includes my father too.”

The Crown Princess: “It may also reflect a development in the society that we all have become a little more conscious in respect to contributing to society and helping. Personally I feel very strongly that all people have a right to belong and to know that someone cares about them. Through my engagement [with organisations] and work as patron I have often had the impression that social isolation is a particularly problematic factor. That is, that social isolation can be both the result and the cause of a problem. You can say that social isolation and illness is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. That is the basis for the formation of the Mary Foundation which at the same time gives me the opportunity to keep all the threads together which I already have in my social work. It is yet one more platform to hopefully be able to help some people to have a better life. That is something I’m really passionate about and as Crown Princess it gives me a unique opportunity to help make a difference.”

Q: How does it affect you to personally meet vulnerable and sick people?

"It can be hard. But even though I’m often deeply moved, I think that they get a better experience if I show a smiling face and a little encouraging sympathy. There may be something that may give a little hope or perhaps just a good experience they can take with them. It can sometimes be difficult, but we too get so much in return when we meet vulnerable and sick people.”

The Crown Prince: “Yes, and even though there is a lot of commotion going on when one arrives, with lots of people and flashlights right in the eyes, we always try to create a space so we can have genuine contact face to face during the brief minutes that are available. For some people it can be hard to understand that a monarchy like ours has significance in the times we live in, even that it can generate an economic surplus. In theory basically it can’t, but time and time again we experience to our great joy that we do make a big difference for people and that is among the best of experiences for us. That even though it may only last a few minutes, the recipient understands that we mean it from our hearts.”

The Crown Princess: “Yes, it is very important for us that it is perceived as something more profound than just us being present. By engaging ourselves in these issues we also hope to create a debate about a problem and to encourage the possibility that the conditions and the lives of these people are improved in some way. It is about helping to do that, because we cannot do it just by creating attention.”

Q: As the “newly instated” Crown Princess you were criticised in the press for being too interested in fashion. Is this an area from which you have retreated a bit?

“Fashion is an exciting industry and I believe it is almost the third largest export industry of the country [worth more than DKK 20 billion and growing]. I chose to get involved with fashion because it was a place to start and it was where I could be present and get some experience. It’s a big and important industry, but because it was about fashion and money and about dressing up it was regarded as shallow. Had it been windmills it may have been a different matter.

It may also have been a convenient or easy way to fit me in. Perhaps it should have been balanced a bit more, but I think it went off balance because fashion attracts a lot of attention. It was never just the case that I was only involved with fashion. But it almost seemed as though I wasn’t doing anything else and I experienced that as a bit frustrating in the beginning.”

The Crown Prince: “Women like to look good and the rest of us like to keep an eye on what is going on in regard to fashion. And here I might think that instead of criticising the Crown Princess for attending fashion shows, you could say 'Here we have a young woman, who has just arrived in a new country and who has the opportunity to put her mark on a significant industry'. That is, look a bit deeper instead of focusing on what she is wearing today and whether it is a particular brand of clothing.

The Crown Princess may well dazzle with her dress and presence, but what is behind it is hugely important. As far as I understand one out of every eight people in Denmark is one way or another occupied with the fashion industry, and young Danish designers are fighting a hard battle in shark infested waters.”

The Crown Princess: “I think it went off balance because there was so much focus on that in the media. But I also chose to get involved in the field because I really like Danish fashion. It is very international and often times it is among the very best. The fashion industry has been very appreciative of my effort and I entered at a moment when Danish fashion really started to bloom. But I also then had many social issues besides that and since then I have quietly evolved my work more in that direction. It is something I have been giving a lot of thought and I spend a lot of time working on figuring out how I can best approach it. And as I said before, I believe that every person hopefully will contribute to society and help where they can. And, in my capacity as Crown Princess I have a unique opportunity for creating attention in a number of areas which at the same time also interest me.”

Q: How do you view your future role as regent couple? The demands expected of you are different than those when your mother became regent?

The Crown Prince: "Yes, absolutely. The demands on the regent couple will constantly change. Every era has its own particular demands. My mother was only 32 and she was a woman, so back then there were very formidable demands made of her when she woke up one morning and was Queen. You may say that we benefit from the tradition and that we have been able to observe the impressive way my parents – and your parents-in-law, Mary – fulfill their role. We observe and absorb as much as we are able to."

Q: But the Crown Prince Couple belongs to a new generation and you live differently to your parents. What will be your particular interest as a regent couple?

The Crown Princess: “As Frederik is saying, we are right now trying to figure out where our path will lead us as we continue to take in as much as we can. But we cannot prepare ourselves 100 per cent. We cannot move into or teleport ourselves into the future and see how it will be. We will do it in our own individual way, just as the Queen and the Prince Consort do it their own way. As Regent Couple they reflect the time they live in and we will too, when we get there. We don’t know yet how things will look at that time. We ready ourselves, so that we are prepared to embark on our journey in the best possible way.”

The Crown Prince: “To dare be ourselves has turned out to be a plus for both of us. It may be that some people see it differently. I think I have come farther than I believed possible by being myself. Some may have thought that I was a bit too different, but in this regard I have said to myself: 'What you see is what you get'."

The Crown Princess: “Otherwise it will be an unhappy life.”

The Crown Prince: “Yes, you can only smile your own smile. And fortunately it turns out that in general people like to see that you show a human face. Many even give praise that you shed a tear.”

Q: That must be a healthy acknowledgment to reach with all the expectations that have always been on your shoulders as Crown Prince?

“Yes, and I no longer see it as something embarrassing to show my feelings. I may have done ten or fifteen years ago and I certainly do not expect that others should express themselves in the same manner. But that’s how we end up doing it, because in every respect we can only be ourselves.”

Q: How do you handle the balance between being royals and style icons like other celebrities?

The Crown Princess: “We don’t consider ourselves style icons. But we are of conscious of the fact that we must dress neatly and correctly for the events in which we take part. I don’t think people would be thrilled if we showed up improperly dressed. We are very conscious that we represent Denmark and that we do it in the correct manner. And it can really be frustrating if you are out an event and there is more focus on your clothes than on what happened.

The dress is part of our 'uniform' but we are not out to outshine the event itself, or look like a Christmas tree. So of course we have many considerations as to how we engage in what we do. We think carefully. Sometimes it’s just a case of 'I want to do that'. Every event we attend has a very strict schedule, almost down to minute by minute, but of course there should also be room for spontaneity.”

Q: Isn’t it a bit odd to have to wait for a position you have no idea about when it begins?

The Crown Prince: “No matter what new job you are facing there will always be some uncertainty. If you could see it all in advance you would be over-qualified. The challenge lies in the margin of unpredictability there will always be. Otherwise the job wouldn’t be experienced as a chance for development. That’s the way I try to handle it and it has actually been something of a revelation for me when I began to view it in that way. You cannot prepare yourself for everything.”

The Crown Princess: “No, it’s just like having a baby. You can read and talk and absorb from all directions, but you cannot know how it will actually be in reality.”

The Crown Prince: “That’s how I felt when I left for Greenland in 2000. Yes, you were physically capable. You trusted your psyche and were well prepared. We trained as much as we could and built most of our things ourselves and so on. However we could never go before a rostrum and say: 'We will absolutely get through at such and such time'. In the case of Greenland it’s the moods of nature that decides whether you will get through it all. Physically you can be unfortunate and get injured and then you have to quit before time. It’s the same thing in sports.

The more you train – that applies to our future too – and gain experience of life through practical experiences, the more you minimise the unforeseen things the job as monarch involves. To be well prepared is the most important thing and here experience of life comes in. That is what we will pass on to our little boy, so that he hopefully will be allowed to maintain his curiosity and interest for his surroundings. He might travel and live abroad so that he will have an opportunity to get to know himself. The most important thing is to be able to be at peace within himself, to obtain a centre of gravity. And you get that through experience of life and that only comes through time.”

The Crown Princess: “We believe it is a very essential part of our work to carry on the traditions and history which make the monarchy something unique and a rallying point for Denmark. Continuity is very important but there must also be room for development, so we will fulfill the role in our unique way. That’s the way every regent couple has done it.”

Q: What thoughts do you have as the Crown Prince Couple in regard to the future of Prince Christian?

The Crown Prince: “I have thought about that a lot, especially before his birth. Jeez, do stay inside in your mother’s belly! You shouldn’t come out into the big, raging world!”

The Crown Princess: “Nooo…" thoughtfully, "We must ensure that he will be so well prepared that he can face all the challenges that will come his way. That he will become a happy boy and will get the chance to live a life like everybody else, but still with this difference… And that he can carry it with pride. He must be proud of who he is. Naturally there will be times in his life where he may not want to have all the pressure of expectation on his shoulders. So then it will be our job to support him.”

The Crown Prince: “He surely must question things along the way. Why are the reactions are as they are in regard to him. He will surely do that, and here we will be 100 per cent present. If it must be put briefly, it’s our hope that he shall live as an ordinary person in an extraordinary world. But there will surely be times where he will find it difficult to be different.”

The Crown Princess: “That’s how all children feel it. You would rather be like everybody else. You’d rather not stand out in any way. You want to belong to the group, to the community.”

Q: If the Crown Prince were to write a letter to himself as a young man, how would it read?

“I would write that I was fortunate to be given a lot of freedom. Innermost as well as externally. I really was allowed to develop myself and have my own experiences and that has been worth pure gold. I could not have bought that. It was cool that I had that freedom and those experiences. And I was allowed to keep my curiosity and challenge myself physically as well as mentally.

In the Frogman Corps for example, there were many times when you thought, 'It wasn’t you who did that!' You would never have believed you were capable of it, but you managed it in some mysterious way. By working through the issues and listening to your own thoughts you pulled through. It was best when you faced some measurable demand that had to be honoured, otherwise it was just 'goodbye and thank you' with a good conscience but neverthless downcast, right?

That gave a lot of insight within yourself and also courage. I became aware that you could actually set some extreme goals for yourself, and honour them. Physical well-being gives a good mental balance, so yes, it has also been a help in respect to my future job as regent. It applies to all people that you get cheered up by physical exertion.

In my letter I would write that it’s important to get the freedom to experience things. Without wanting to be too aloof I will refer to a single sentence by Piet Hein: 'Remember to love, while you dare. Remember to live, while you do'. You could say that to yourself, but only as seen in the rear view mirror, because as a teenager you cannot forsee your life, but you do live much more intensely and have a lot of emotions. So yes, you must not forget to love.”

Q: Does the Crown Princess to have an advice for yourself as teenager?

"I think that it is important that you learn a lot from the experiences you have along the way. I believe you should live in the present and also look ahead, even though I don’t always remember it. But I believe in it. I’m certain that I could give myself a lot of advice today with retrospective effect, but I don’t think I would have been able to receive it when I was a teenager or younger, because at that time I didn’t have the experience to accept it that I have today. I think I would say to myself: 'Good luck on the journey'."

The End

go to chapter 1 (thanks ambiDK!)

  • As so often here at the blog, a huge thank you to Muhler for translation. As always in translations there are fine lines of interpretation to get across the meanings and idioms which are not exactly the same in different languages. We attempt to do this as best we can with as much care as possible. We are not professional translators however, and urge anyone wanting to use this material to contact Berlingske Tidende and the journalist Karen Margrethe Schelin. To any in the Australian media tempted to distort the material here, you will be called out on it! Otherwise, fair use is encouraged since that is what we are interested in here at the blog - bridging the Danish - English (Australian) language and culture divide.

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    Berlingske Tidende chapter 1 translation

    Photo © Steen Brogaard/ © Berlingske Tidende

    Chapter one

    ”We start the day by making oatmeal”

    by Berlingske Tidende's Karen Margrethe Schelin

    Translation of the first chapter of the interview with Frederik and Mary by Berlingske Tidende's Karen Margrethe Schelin.

    Kronprinsparret - kapitel 1: »Vi begynder dagen med at lave havregrød« (Crown Prince Couple - chapter 1: ”We start the day by making oatmeal”)

    For the first time the Crown Prince Couple talk about the joys and the challenges of having become a family in two chapters. In this first chapter, they talk about their view on bringing up children and on the love they have for each other and the kids. [They also talk] about not fussing exessively about their children, about showing their feelings [emotion] in public and about how hard it can be when the press gets too close.

    The fire is crackling in the fireplace when we enter the Crown Prince Couple’s cosy living room in the Chancellery House at Fredensborg Palace. Two big Christmas stockings with “Isabella” and “Christian” embroidered on them are lying over the armrest of the sofa. A simple row of string lights is glistening in the magnolia tree outside the windows.

    Crown Prince Frederik puts another log on the fire and nods to ensure the comfort of the guest [ie: the journalist] and makes himself comfortable on the sofa next to Crown Princess Mary. They are both dressed in casual clothes. The Crown Prince is in worn jeans and a big sweater and the Crown Princess is in fitted jeans and a small checked woollen jacket.

    A generous dish with biscuits and two jugs filled respectively with coffee and green tea stand on the square table between us. The mugs are Mega Mussel from Royal Copenhagen. It is the first time the Crown Prince Couple has invited the press into their home.

    In one of the corners, behind the long table with tall-backed chairs, lies a big pile of toys. The living room is decorated with modern, comfortable furniture with room for playing, family time and being together with friends. This is where the Crown Prince Couple relax at night after the kids have been put to sleep and they can “drink a glass of red wine and look each other in the eyes”.

    Through the white-framed windows and the double doors, the garden with the naked winter trees can be seen. Two prams are standing under one of them. One of them is an older model. The pram belonged to Queen Ingrid, who used it for her oldest daughter. Queen Margrethe found her old pram by coincidence in a storage room at Fredensborg, and in the spring she had it restored and gave it to the Crown Prince Couple.

    “My mother did not use it for either my brother or me when we were young, so it has skipped a generation. But the Queen thought it would be fun to have it restored. She was very proud and happy when she came and gave it to us. We use it for Christian now for when he has to have a nap because it is bigger than an ordinary pram,” says Crown Prince Frederik. [It is customary for Danish babies to have a daily nap outdoors, even in cold weather.]

    Princess Isabella is also napping while the interview with Berlingske is happening. The now eight month old princess lies in her own pram, which stands close to her brother’s under the tree in the back garden of the Chancellery House.

    The Crown Prince Couple don't hide the fact that it has been a radical change for them to become a small family. There is a lot that has happened since the wedding in Copenhagen’s Cathedral in May 2004. But they seem to have found a good rhythm, and the Crown Prince Couple are obviously enjoying being a family with young children. And this is so even if it sometimes ruins their sleep at night.

    The Crown Prince: “Both kids are with us at night. Christian doesn’t sleep in our bedroom anymore, but he did until he was about 10 months old which was as long as he was deeply reliant on his mum [being breastfed]. He has his own room now and Isabella is of course still sleeping with us. We still have contact with Christian at night via his baby alarm, so if he has bad dreams or something else, then we can go to his room quickly. Everything has happened so quickly. One should keep a diary as there is so much happening with the little ones. Of course, we take photos of them every now and then and we also videotape them sometimes. We must try to get it organized in some way.”

    Crown Prince Frederik adds that for him the word “massive” pretty much sums up having started a family.

    “It is both a massive life change and also definitely physically demanding, affecting everything in our life. It forces one to become more organised and it is both pleasurable and momentous. With our lives the way they are, rather irregular, with other things constantly pushing into our everyday lives, we don’t really have a permanent daily routine from eight in the morning until six in the evening. Our work comes in doses and it comes at any time.

    The Crown Princess: “Time becomes more valuable when you have children. There is a new dynamic involved and that is very demanding. One has to find a new balance, or re-balance, to make everything work as it did before. On the other hand, we have more flexibility in our everyday life than most other people, and we also get good help and support every day from our staff members. For example, we don’t have to wash the floor ourselves or go to the supermarket to shop.”

    The Crown Prince Couple say that both of their children have been good at sleeping all night through. However, there have been some problems with Princess Isabella during the last few weeks. In the Crown Princess’ own words, there’s been a bit of a hick up in the usual sleeping pattern.

    “Perhaps there are teeth on the way or maybe she is just growing. Overall, Isabella is much more temperamental than Christian. He was an extraordinarily calm and mild baby. Isabella can be really happy and then she can [suddenly] be really angry. But the kids are two different genders. I have heard from my girl friends, that girls are often more hot-tempered than boys as babies. But apart from that, she is very calm and when she smiles, you are helpless…”

    The Crown Prince: “No, then you are just sticks of liquorice.” [Danish expression meaning like putty]

    In spite of a busy everyday life, the Crown Prince Couple make a priority of being with their children. They want to at least “turn them on and close them down”, as Crown Prince Frederik says it. [another expression meaning be there first thing in the morning and last thing at night]

    The Crown Prince: “The morning ritual consists of one of us getting Christian up, quickly change him and put him down in his pyjamas. Then we go out into the kitchen to make “oat-food”, which Christian calls it. It is, of course, good traditional oatmeal. That keeps one going very well.”

    The Crown Princess: “When we have made the oatmeal, we all sit around the dining table. Isabella also, as she is big enough to sit in her high chair now. She also gets some oatmeal and then we talk and eat, and Ziggy* (the Crown Prince Couple’s dog) runs in and out. It is really cosy. When Christian is finished eating, he plays and has some fun with Ziggy before he needs to get dressed and go to the nursery.”
    * Ziggy is a female

    Q: Do you take Prince Christian to the nursery yourselves?

    The Crown Prince: “We take him there and pick him up from there as much as possible. And it is not something you have to exert yourself to do. It is so natural and lovely, and he likes it when we take him there. All together, he is very happy to be in the nursery. When the weather allows it, I take him there in the “Christiania”-bike but it is a little too cold right now, and he doesn’t want to wear his mittens. There are just those contrary times when one doesn’t want to wear mittens and elephant hat, and then you can’t do anything…But it is then we take him there in the car.”

    The Crown Princess: “But it is mostly you, as we have Isabella as well now, so we share it between us.”

    Q: Can you avoid prying looks from the other kids and parents in the nursery?

    The Crown Prince: “I think it’s very relaxed. It is kind of a fast package delivery central for parents, and the more they see us, the more we blend into the picture. And as you say good morning and say a quick hello to each other, that quickly breaks the ice. There is not an avenue of flags every day!”

    Q: Will Isabella attend the same nursery?

    The Crown Prince: “We have signed her up there, so we will have to see at that time if it fits her development and her personality. But it is always a good thing to be prepared.” Prince Christian is good at speaking and he can also say a few English words, says the Crown Princess: “We speak Danish with him most of the time. But Christian learns more and more English. He also gets it from my family and my friends and he can say both “grandad” [for John Donaldson] and “grandpapa” [for Prince Hnerik] and “farmor” [Queen Margrethe - literally 'father's mother' for paternal grandparent]. He has it all under control and he is indeed very good at speaking. He talks very clearly and says real sentences, so he is well on his way, I would say.”

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, he runs around and is not afraid to test himself. He also has a big vocabulary, and he can come up with some phrases where we are left thinking: 'Where does he get this?' The teachers from the nursery have also confirmed this. He is not just repeating things like a parrot, but seems to consider what he is saying.”

    The Crown Princess: “Christian is also very good at reading body language and facial expressions, and maybe that’s because of the fact that he meets so many different people in the house every day, he gets so many impressions from all kinds of people whom he meets during the day.”

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, the members of our staff can’t help but talk to him, so he has to answer all kinds of questions and relate to many things. Sometimes, he goes into their office to fiddle with things, disturb their work or make some trouble – for example, paint on the big whiteboard with our calendar. But I think he has been told to draw in one specific spot on the whiteboard now.”

    Q: How did the Crown Prince Couple prepare before becoming parents? Did you read Jesper Juul’s Dit kompetente barn (The Capable Child) or any other books about becoming parens?

    The Crown Princess: “One can read a whole lot about it, but can never know how it will turn out in reality. We did read different books but I think the most important thing was family and friends, who we could ask for advice. To me, my sisters were a big help, especially during the first months after we had Christian. It was just to be able to call and ask a question if something happened.”

    The Crown Prince: “I also asked my brother about what he had done with his two lads * – especially the first time. I wouldn’t say that one copies just anything, but it is good to gather some inspiration from different sides and then say to youself: 'We are the way we are, and we are not a copy of other parents.' One can’t copy others 100 percent.”
    * Frederik's word in Danish demonstrates a kind of rollicking (boys?) relationship with his nephews

    The Crown Princess: “Yes, that is very important, because what works for us and our everyday life is not necessarily the same as what works for others. All families are different. But the routines are important to us. It gives us a good feeling that the children follow their routines regardless of whether we are with them or if they are taken care of by the nanny. Of course it is only me who can take care of the breast feeding. But the kids and the nannies know when they have to sleep and eat and that gives you a confident feeling when you are away from them.”

    The Crown Prince: “It works well, I think, and already from back when the kids were newborn, Mary and I have actually had our evenings together, so that we were able to sit down, have a glass of wine and look each other in the eyes and say: “Whew, we have made it this far!”

    Q: Does the Crown Prince remember routines from your own childhood?

    “Ooh, that is a question of how far back, one can remember. But yes, we actually did. Partly, it is that my brother and I were almost raised like twins. There’s exactly twelve months between us. We also had a permanent nanny with whom we spent a lot of time. Mostly there were of course the routines concerning mealtimes and later on homework, when that time came.”

    Q: But you and Prince Joachim did not spend a lot of time with your parents in your everyday life?

    “The time was different back then. My parents had children quite soon after they had married, and two different cultures had to work together [Danish-French]. And then one shouldn’t forget the fact that my mother became queen when she was only 32 years old and had a big challenge before her to fulfill her new role as monarch.”

    “I remember when I turned 32, I though': 'Oh my, if I suddenly had to go through what my mother went through back then!' But then I can also remember that many, many years ago, I decided that when my time came, it was to be a journey with the children as well, as much as it might be possible. I have always been convinced of that. I was anxious to see if those earlier thoughts would become reality, and they have, I can say.”

    Crown Princess Mary adds that she thinks it’s a shame that there’s the perception that Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim didn’t have enough time together with the Queen and the Prince Consort during their upbringing.

    “When I think of the memories, you have shared with me about your mother and father and the funny and good stories I hear from your family about the time when you were kids, I get the impression that you spent more time together than most people think. I think there’s been way too much focus on the fact that you didn’t eat your meals together when you were very young. That doesn’t mean that you didn’t spend time together during the day.”

    The Crown Prince: “You are right. I will never forget the indignation which my brother and I caused – I think it was in connection with my mother’s 50th birthday – when we told how we had our first meal together with our parents by the time we were four years old. But we only told the anecdote because it felt very natural to us. If it had been a bad experience for us, we would probably not have mentioned it. So to us, it wasn’t as bad as it might sound to other people.”

    The Crown Prince Couple say that they agree “surprisingly” well on how to bring up their children.

    The Crown Princess: “One would think that we might have had different outlooks, as I come from Australia and Frederik comes from Denmark, and at the same time, we have very different family backgrounds. But we are much alike when it comes to the specifics of the children's upbringing. We agree about how we should take care of the children and make sure that they are well, and that shows that we have had some of the same basic values during our own upbringings.”

    “Actually, I think we agree surprisingly well. And the part about having the children sleeping in the bedroom has been the right way for both of us. And then I must say that we have been very lucky, as both of our children have been very good at sleeping. If not, it would have been a lot harder, and then we would have had to make more use of the wonderful nannies we have who help us.”

    Q: Which values would you like to pass on to your children?

    The Crown Prince: “They will always have a safe harbour. That’s also how I remember my own childhood.”

    The Crown Princess: “I think we agree when it comes to the major basic outlines. I grew up in a safe and loving home as well, and we would like to pass that on to our children. If you speak about the details, it is a bit harder as the children are still so young. Both of us take things as they come. In my family, they were also very consistent, and that is something, you Frederik, talk a lot about too and I agree with you about that.”

    The Crown Prince: “We try to do as much as possible with the children in the morning and in the evening. One can say that we turn them on and close them down, and that is very special. The guiding line is the continuity, but one shouldn’t forget the most important thing – the love for them. One can pour one’s love into them. I remember that it was a great experience for me when that little boy there – Christian – threw his arms around my neck. 'No, that’s not happening,' I thought. It is so momentous. And I see this as a result of the fact that we have spent so much time with him from the beginning. It is always so exciting to be with your little child.”

    “But the fact that he could, at six months, show his love in this way…this is all the more a sign that one is never to sacrifice this. And this is even though we know that we usually have some pretty tight schedules. But then again, you can concentrate 100 per cent on your children when you’re with them, and I consider his reaction a sign of the fact that he feels safe.”

    The Crown Princess: “We can also see it in the way Christian enters a room filled with grown up people. He is completely calm. He actually seems to feel good in situations one might think could seem a bit overwhelming to a child. He seems to feel very safe and happy.”

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, we experienced that at Isabella’s christening, where we had an outdoor lunch arrangement. Christian just walked around on his own between the different tables and talked to people. We don’t fuss over him. Of course that doesn’t mean that one should have one’s back to him and let him wander off on his own. But he should be allowed to test himself and he might get a few bruises so to speak, but one should be careful not to overprotect him. He is not supposed to put his hand on a hotplate, but it is not a problem if he gets a bit too close to the fireplace and senses that there is a source of heat which he should stay away from.”

    The Crown Princess: “Perhaps his mum is a bit more fussy… but Christian has a good level of confidence and that is very important. Right now, it is very important to give love and protection and enjoy Christian. At the same time, this is also the time to begin to be a bit more consistent. He can’t get exactly what he wants whenever he wants it.”

    Q: Is there one who is strict and one who is the opposite, when it comes to the upbringing?

    The Crown Prince: “No, and that could easily sound like one of us is the tough one, whichever of us it might be, and I don’t think that’s the case. Whoever is the one of us who is the closest to him takes over right there and then. It is not a science. It is just something you do.”

    The Crown Princess: “It is also important that the children get the same message and the same ground rules from both of us. They aren’t treated in one way by one of us and in another way by the other. We have to stand together as a team. That will be even more important when they get older, but there’s no reason why we can’t practice a bit…”

    Q: As a family with young children, it can often be hard to find time for each other as a couple. Is it hard for you too?

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, but I think you just have to be patient. With Christian, we put ourselves into it with 100 percent, and then I thought that with the second, it wouldn’t be as if you were landing on the moon. It might be 50 per cent more. But that is not so. It is more like double and that is perfectly fine. You can be tired and have less energy [feel drained] when you have put the kids to sleep at night, and then we sit in the same spot as where we are sitting right now. But patience has to win out in that situation and then later on [when the children are older], a lot of time will come back to you. One has to look forward and try to find small oases or small deserted islands with palm trees, where one can lie down in the shade and relax – metaphorically speaking. And you are there too, Mary! But of course you can’t improvise in the same way as you could before you had the children.”

    The Crown Princess: “It is also hard to be away from the children, so when you have some spare time, you would like to spend it with them. It’s not as if you lose each other just because you’re with the children. It is just another way to spend the time together, and that is one of the best parts.”

    “Of course, we sometimes have a busy schedule all day and perhaps have to go out at night too. But two days later, we have a little more time off where one can go for a run with the children, ride horses or just have a lovely dinner at home and watch a movie.”

    Q: What has it meant to the Crown Prince to become a father?

    “You find some hidden sides of yourself, right? Only it is for the better, if you ask me. First and foremost, you are excited by the joy of expectation. How will you react? It is all of the intense feelings one experiences of love for the small creations which we have made. Perhaps some men find it hard to accept those feelings, but I don’t feel that. I think it is fantastic to experience the overwhelming feelings. It is so overwhelming.”

    Q: The Crown Prince even has a reputation of being a soft man?
    “Yes, and then some say that you’re not a man of the time or that you are a man of the time. I can’t figure out which one is popular right now. Perhaps one can say that I am me of the time. And then you can be happy about the fact that it obviously evokes a certain sympathy in the public. Therefore, I am not bothered to shed a tear in public places in connection with big family events.”

    Q: This thing about being very emotional, when did that happen to you for the first time?

    “When we were getting married. At that time, it was very, very hard to keep the emotions hidden and then I though to myself: 'Whatever'. I have something special about churches. The sound in a church is very sacred, as it is called in the technical way. That elevated feeling and the organ music. Some people find the sound bleak, but it hits me deep inside in a good way. And I felt this at the three or four rehearsals we had in the cathedral before our wedding. I didn’t consider it as something wrong when I became emotional. It was amazing. I remember and enjoyed every second in the church.”

    Q: Were you able to keep your mind off the media circus which your wedding set off?

    The Crown Prince: “I believe I did, yes. And you can track that all the way to where we sit today. I constantly kept it in my mind, that I couldn’t let it overshadow the fantastic joy and happiness it was, to say our yes there in the church both in private and in public. The public part was the fact that the whole world was watching. The private was the fact that two persons were standing alone in front of the altar, who knew that they loved and love each other and were happy about this.”

    “To us, it was about making the moment a private moment. For me, it can lead to the fact that whether the church was filled or if there was only a single witness in the back row, the moment was still as special as it was. The most important thing about those seconds were to remember what going up to the altar means. That it is not just about a bride dressed in white, who looks perfect, but it is about what happens inside the heart.”

    Q: What thoughts does the Crown Prince Couple have on the kids’ future in light of the enormous attention from the media?

    The Crown Prince: “We really appreciate the involvement [interest] the public has for our family. At different times, we are often asked if our children can join us, and the other day Christian attended a smaller formal event. I can see from my own past that it is good to bring the children into it, as the earlier we do it in a calm way, the better they can handle it later on.”

    The Crown Princess: “We are very aware of the task it is to make them as prepared as possible so they can meet the challenges ahead, that we prepare them well so that they have the confidence it takes. And, as Frederik just said, that they come along sometimes and get a bit of experience. That way it is not something completely strange which they have to think about, but that they are slowly introduced to it from the beginning because it will be a big part of their lives.”

    Q: Can that seem scary as parents?

    The Crown Prince: “When I look back on my own youth, the media is much more comprehensive today, especially the electronic media. Everything is covered and it is spread around the whole world. Of course one can’t stop such a development, but one could wish that there was more consciousness and responsibility concerning the use of the media. That counts for every journalist and every man and women – for example, when it comes to photos taken with mobile phones.

    The Crown Princess: “But one shouldn’t generalise as it only concerns very few people. Generally, the Danes are very happy to see their royal family walking down the street. And when we take a walk in the park in Fredensborg, we are seen as any other family. I feel the same way when I walk around in the city of Fredensborg. People say hello and nothing more than that. It happens rarely that you’re met with cameras from ordinary people. It is different at official engagements, but in general I think the Danes are good at respecting some distance.”

    Q: How has the Crown Princess experienced the loss of your anonymity?

    “It is hard to find the words for it, I think. It was a gradual transition, a process. But it really became clear to me when we had our first child, Christian. Suddenly, you are much more vulnerable. You always want to protect your children at any price, and I realised that there are some things just I can’t protect them against, and that they will always live with the pressure of being in the attention of the public. At times, it has seemed to be a very high price to pay but then I look at what I have gained and I wouldn’t want to trade. I look at my beloved husband and the children we have created together, the lovely country I live in every day now and which is my home and where my heart is. I feel very much at home here in Denmark. The more I have gotten to know Denmark and the Danes, the more I love it.”

    “At times, it has been a high price to pay, but it is a cost for me compared to my role as crown princess. That’s where the attention comes into the picture. On the other hand, it puts me in a unique position when it comes to creating awareness for some important causes. I can help with making a difference, so in that way I am gratified by the attention. But when it hits at our privacy it can be hard, and I don’t think I will ever get used to that. I have never tried to be the centre of attention. I am a little shy. So yes, at times it has been a high price but I wouldn’t trade, and what I have now has made me the person I am today. And, I am incredibly happy for that.”

    Q: How has the Crown Prince supported you in this process?

    “Frederik has helped me a lot. He gives me the perspective it takes. And that comes from his experience because it has been a part of his whole life. That experience – and then just his love also - when there are some bad front pages in the weekly press for example. The fact that I know he is standing right behind me means a lot and that everything is going to be alright.”

    Q: What does Your Royal Highness say to the Crown Princess?

    “Try to skate over it!”

    Q: Does the press respect the court’s request to protect your children?

    The Crown Princess: “We think so, and we are very thankful for it, and we hope for it to continue. Frederik and Joachim have told me that they were allowed to do things, some which did not go well, without being judged in front of everybody. They were allowed to live their lives and try things out without being afraid of failure. We hope that the press will follow that policy with our children as well. When Christian began in the nursery we allowed the media to take pictures of him on the first day and then we asked the press to leave him alone after that, and they have. I am happy for that – especially when I take him there in training pants, straight from bed…”

    Q: But it can’t be fun to wake up to different stories in the coloured press? Do you ever feel like talking back?

    The Crown Princess: “Some days are more fun than others. But no, there’s no reason to talk back. If we had to comment on this article one day and that article the next day, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else.”

    Q: Is it the same with a book like Ekstra Bladet’s1015 København K” which is entirely based on anonymous sources?

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, I have heard about it. We don’t want to comment on that book. I think it has lived its life. Generally, we have a good dialogue with the press in Denmark and we respect this relationship, even though there can be imbalance from time to time. It probably pains the Crown Princess more than me. Also, because the foreign press has a tendency to copy the bad press from here and refer to so-called royal experts and so on. But then we have to say to each other that fortunately we know where we have each other. And that’s what matters the most.”

    The Crown Princess: “Yes, you can only try to get a laugh out of it, and as Frederik says, we know the way it is in our real world, how much we love each other and the lovely family we have created. We just have to look each other in the eyes and say: ‘That is not true!’ Fortunately, you see that around the country, shops won’t sell the magazines if they cross the line and you see book shops who won’t sell that book in their shop. They make up their own minds about this.”

    The Crown Prince: “And then it is a good thing that lots of people love to comment on this and that these days. No matter if it is our family or politics, so we don’t have to spend our time on that. People are almost lining up to have a say. That is our liberty.”

    The Christmas peace seems completely undisturbed in the home of the Crown Prince Couple, and as a guest, you feel unusually comforted in the kind atmosphere which dominates in the Chancellery House. Christmas will be celebrated in Århus at Marselisborg Palace together with the rest of the royal family, as tradition determines.

    Q: Finally, we would like to hear how the Crown Princely Couple does the Christmas present race – Prince Christian must have reached the gift age?

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, he believes that everything which has been wrapped is a gift for him. For the first two to three years of children’s lives, it is very inexpensive but then it gets very expensive!”

    The Crown Princess: “Our approach is that Christian only gets a certain number of gifts so that he appreciates each and every one. We also experienced this approach at his birthday. He didn’t just pull the paper off and continue on to the next gift. He was happy and was interested in every gift. He didn’t get a lot. Right now he has his advent calendar which the Queen has embroidered and came over to give it to him herself. It hangs in our dining room and so he gets a little gift each morning. Just small things – some raisins or a little car.”

    Q: Do the public send gifts for your children as well?

    The Crown Princess: “Christian and Isabella have been endowed with a lot of good and child-friendly things. And we would also like to take the opportunity to say that we are very happy and thankful for the great support from the public and that so many people showing an interest in our lives. We get so many congratulations from children, young people and older people. It is something we appreciate a lot.”

    Crown Princess Mary slips out of the room for a few minutes and when she returns, she has Princess Isabella in her arms. The little princess is dressed in tights with a teddy bear on her behind and a matching dress in rose coloured baby velvet. On her feet she has small socks knitted from musk ox wool. She has inherited them from her big brother and “they will soon be too small”. She “talks” brightly and looks curiously at Berlingske’s reporter.

    After a few minutes of talking in "baby language" the Crown Princess passes her little girl to me as any other proud mother would.

    “She is so straight and fine,” I say.

    The Crown Prince: “Yes, just like her mother.”

    The end of chapter 1

    go to chapter 2 (thanks Muhler!)

  • A great big thanks to ambiDK for translation of this (long!) part of the interview, and at Christmas time too! For non-Danish speakers, there is a formal and an informal "you" in Danish which is lost in English. Royals are referred to and addressed with the formal "you" which explains some of the circuitous language in English

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    More royal Christmas cards

    In this week's Billed Bladet the Christmas cards of the extended Danish royal family are published. The Greek royal family card is a photo taken last summer on a cruise of the Greek islands when the family was celebrating Queen Anne-Marie's 60th birthday at Porto Heli. The photograph of Princess Benedikte and her husband Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg was taken in Benedikte's apartment at Amalienborg Palace (there is a photograph of Frederik IX in the foreground). Queen Margrethe's and the Prince Consort's card is one with their grandchildren Nikolai, Christian, Felix and Isabella taken at the time of their 40th wedding anniversary. Finally, there is a new card in the ranks. It is Prince Joachim with sons Nikolai and Felix, fiancée Marie Cavallier and newest "royal dog", little Winston, at Schackenborg.

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    Joachim & Marie to have giant wedding concert

    Billed Bladet reports there will be a big public concert to celebrate the wedding of Prince Joachim and Marie Cavallier in the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen the day before their wedding in Møgeltønder in southern Denmark. The Crown Prince Couple experienced the Rock 'n Royal concert for Save the Children in Parken before their wedding in 2004, and now Prince Joachim and his Marie Cavallier will also have a concert in honour of their wedding as a gift.

    The music company World of Sound is behind the national gift, which will feature both modern and classical music.

    "We are already having a good dialogue with the royal house and are planning and making arrangements for the concert, which will be free for everyone. TV 2 would like to broadcast the concert and now we are looking for sponsors and of course artists who will entertain kids and adults, and the couple too.

    Among the bands we have lined up are Gnags (a band from Århus) and maybe also Crown Prince Frederik's favourite band Led Zeppelin-Jam.

    We'll not only celebrate Joachim's and Marie's wedding on May 24th, but also Crown Prince Frederik's 40th birthday on May 26th," the organizer Max Bonnen from World Of Sound said.

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    Thursday, 27 December 2007

    Christian & Isabella: he's mild & she's wild

    B.T. , Berlingske Tidende's tabloid sister, has reported on the contents of the Crown Prince Couple's interview: Børnene er som nat og dag – The children are like day and night:
    The heirs to the throne Prince Christian and Princess Isabella have been born less than two years apart, but they are very different. He’s mild, she’s wild.
    In contrast to big brother Christian, kid sister Isabella has during her lifetime of only eight months already revealed a definite temper which has added some extra zing into the daily lives – and nights - of the Crown Prince Couple.
    That is what mum and dad, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, say in the frank interview with the happy family at Fredensborg Palace published today in
    Berlingske Tidende.
    And they say it’s nice to be parents. But also it is hard.
    In particular, this has been so during the past couple of weeks when the little princess has had a little problem sleeping through the night at the palace.
    “Perhaps she’s teething, or perhaps she’s just growing. Isabella is generally far more temperamental than Christian. He was an unusually calm and mild baby. Isabella can be really, really happy and then she can be really, really angry. But the children are, of course, two different genders. I’ve heard from my (female) friends that girls are often more temperamental than boys as babies. But apart from that, she’s very calm and when she smiles you’re helpless,” admits a proud Mary.
    After keeping quite a low profile for quite a while in regard to interviews, the Crown Prince Couple have invited a journalist into their living room in the Chancellery House at Fredensborg Palace for the first time ever. While the fire crackled in the fireplace and the two big Christmas stockings with "Isabella" and "Christian" embroidered on them hang on the armrest of the sofa, Mary and Frederik talk about the many joys and worries which life as parents bring.
    Crown Prince Frederik has never hidden the fact that he will raise his children in a less strict and more present way than what he and Prince Joachim experienced as children. To the Crown Prince Couple it has indeed seemed very obvious and natural to share the royal bedroom with their babies.
    Crown Prince Frederik: “Christian is no longer sleeping in our bedroom, but he did until he was about ten months, which was as long as he was deeply dependant upon his mother [ie: breastfeeding]. Now he has his own room and Isabella is of course still with us. We have contact with Christian too during the night via his baby alarm, so if he has a bad dream, or there is something else, we can quickly get to him.”
    Frederik: “Everything has happened so fast. You almost ought to write a diary because so much happens with these little people. We photograph them continuously of course and also record them on video sometimes. We must pull ourselves together and get it into a system.”
    Frederik reveals that he is utterly and completely won over when Isabella smiles, just as it was a huge experience for him when Christian, at age six months, put his arms lovingly around his neck."
    Mary and Frederik do not hide the fact however, that for a royal couple too, it is a big change to have children.
    Frederik: “It’s a huge experience truthfully speaking, but it is certainly also huge speaking of the physical impact too. It also forces you to be more organised and that is both a good thing and necessary. Perhaps this is particularly so in our life, because other chores happen constantly in our daily life. We don’t have a fixed schedule from eight in the morning to six in the evening. Our work come in doses and at any time,” says Crown Prince Frederik who likes to take Prince Christian to day nursery on his “Christiania-bike”.
    According to Mary, the children have made their daily life different: “You need to find a new balance, to make everything fit together as it used to. On the other hand, we have more flexibility in our daily life than so many other people and we have very good help and support in our daily life from those around us (in the form of staff and nannies). For example, we don’t have to clean the floors or go shopping in the supermarket.”
    The Crown Prince Couple emphasise that despite their different family backgrounds from Denmark and Australia, they are surprisingly in agreement about how to bring up Prince Christian and Princess Isabella. An upbringing where love, feeling secure and consequences for actions are the key words. And both admit that as new parents they have benefited greatly from asking for advice from their more experienced siblings in regard to the children.
    As tradition dictates, the Crown Prince Couple and their children will celebrate Christmas at Marselisborg Palace along with the rest of the DRF gathering this year.
    According to Frederik, Prince Christian thinks that everything that is wrapped is a present for him. Because of this, Mary has emphasised that the little Prince only has enough presents so that he can appreciate each one. Here in the Christmas month he does however get a small calendar present each morning – for example some sultanas or a small car – from a wall-hanging gift calendar that his grandmother has embroidered.
    Crown Prince Frederik openly says how big a change it has been to become a father.
    And not just during the first time when the couple had Prince Christian, but also very much so too when Princess Isabella arrived.
    Frederik: “With Christian we were 100% switched on and then I thought that when we get number two, it’ll hardly be like landing on the Moon again. It’ll probably amount to 50% more. But that’s not true. It’s double up on everything and that’s fine. And then, you certainly can get tired and have a little less excess energy when you have put the children to bed, and we sit here where we sit right now. But in this respect patience shall prevail, and later, there will be plenty of time left.”
    He and Mary make sure they have time for each other, and have made that work.
    Frederik: “From when the children were infants, it has actually been the case that Mary and I have had our evenings together, so that in fact we have been able to sit down, drink a glass of wine, and look each other in the eyes and say "Whew, we made it this far!" says Frederik.
    The Crown Prince Couple now believe to have found a good balance, which ensures that life with the children doesn’t put a strain on their relationship. Even though they have a busy daily life with many duties, it can sometimes be difficult to find time for each other.Mary: “Time becomes more precious when you have children,” says Mary, but she also emphasises that the couple still has a good relationship.
    Mary: “It’s not like you lose each other because you are with the children. It’s just a different way to be together and that’s some of the best part of it all,” says the Crown Princess.
    And finally a few quotes:
    Mary: “Perhaps the mother fusses a little more”.
    Frederik: “The one who is closer takes over in the here and now. This isn’t rocket science.”
    Mary: “Most of the time we speak Danish with Christian.”
    Frederik: “...Then we go out into the kitchen and make 'oat food', as Christian calls it, in the morning." (summary written by Birger A. Andersen and Jeppe Krogager and absolutely kindly translated by Muhler!)

  • there is much more to come - translations of the full articles.
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    Wednesday, 26 December 2007

    Danish royal Christmas @ Marselisborg

    As we know, the royal family is spending Christmas at Marselisborg. Marie Cavallier attended the Christmas Eve church service at Århus Cathedral with Prince Joachim, the Queen, Prince Henrik, Frederik, Mary and Prince Christian. On December 25 Queen Margrethe, Prince Henrik, Mary and Joachim returned to the cathedral to attend another Christmas service.

    24 December 2007. Photos: TV2/Scanpix, SogH

    25 December 2007. Photos Sanne Vils Axelsen/Jyllands Posten

    TV2 Østjylland news clip (01:56) - December 21: Today the Queen and Prince Henrik arrived in Århus, where Christmas will be celebrated this year. The clip shows the arrival or the Queen and Prince Henrik (and the royal daschunds) in the royal carriage on the train from Copenhagen to Århus.

    TV2 news clip (00:27) - (brief) arrival of Frederik, Mary, Christian and Isabella at Marselisborg.

    TV2 Øst webTV (01:40) - clip of Mary waving on arrival with Frederik driving (the children are in the back seat). The lady speaking to the reporter is saying her son Jonas is participating in the Guard's ceremonial turning out and that it is an honour that he is serving the royal family.

    Jyllands Posten 'De kongelige holdt fast ved traditionen' (The royals stick to tradition)
    There was a surprise for the many spectators at Århus Domkirke on Christmas Day when the royal family arrived for a church service. It's a long-standing tradition that Queen Margrethe participates in the church service on Christmas morning in Århus Domkirke, during the time the family is at Marselisborg for Christmas. But every year there is the same excitement. Who is she accompanied by? At exactly at 9.59 yesterday the Crown 19 car pulled up in front of the main entrance on Store Torv, and this year there wasn't only the regent couple. Long-standing friend Reverend Peter Parkov was there as usual, [Peter Parkov officiated at Alexandra's wedding] and there was also a Prince Henrik, a Prince Joachim and a Crown Princess Mary. Curious citizens outside the cathedral and the 1,000 churchgoers inside had to do without Crown Prince Frederik and Joachim's fiancée Marie Cavallier. Prins Henrik left the church before Communion and at the end of the church service the royal family was accompanied to the exit by the day's preacher, bishop Kjeld Holm.

    Art&Architecture gallery photo gallery of Århus Cathedral in black & white

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    Sunday, 23 December 2007

    Linda Henriksen's Berlingske Tidende photo series

    Berlingske Tidende - Linda Henriksen's photo series of Frederik and Mary together in Fredensborg Palace Park.

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    Steen Brogaard's Berlingske Tidende photo series

    Berlingske Tidende's Steen Brogaard photo series of the Crown Prince family at home at Chancellery House.

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