Gitte Redder & Karin Palshøj
Excerpt from the biography Frederik: Kronprins af Danmark [Frederik: Crown Prince of Denmark] (Høst & Søn, 2008)
During 2001, Frederik and Mary also find time for a couple of holidays alone together. At the summer hideaways of Mary’s friends, Frederik gets to see some of Australia’s most stunning areas of natural beauty.
“During one of my visits we stayed in a little cabin right up by the border to Queensland where the climate is subtropical, everything there is so lush and very, very beautiful. On another visit, Mary took me off south of Sydney to a lovely house right on the coast. We went for long walks along the beach, prepared good food – or rather I did, because Mary isn’t that good at it – so we were able to really get to know each other. It was all laughing and talking and gradually opening up for one another. Just being there with each other.”
Frederik recalls these clandestine romantic getaways down to the smallest detail. Frederik himself says he made no special effort to tell Mary about the Royal House or what it might take to be a crown princess in the world’s oldest monarchy.
“Not at all. It was all more about the joy and innocence of being together. She knew of course who I was. I don’t know how much she checked me out on the web – at any rate she found nothing to frighten her off. We didn’t talk that much about how things were back in Denmark, about our parents, or where we came from. It was more the fun things, the tenderness, as it is at the outset of any romantic relationship. The feeling of being in love escalates. It was wonderful, innocent, a total romance. We looked very much out for each other, and for ourselves individually. Not quite wanting to reveal too much, how much it actually meant, even though we obviously couldn’t hide the fact that we were in love.”
Frederik smiles awkwardly at the recollection of that difficult balancing act of showing one’s true feelings and at the same time hiding them for fear of becoming vulnerable.
Frederik’s love for Mary grows steadily during that first year. There is a new-found profundity, a joy and naturalness about his feelings for Mary that he has never experienced before. He is in no doubt about the nature of his love.
“It was just everything about her I was attracted by. It’s difficult to pin down more exactly, loving her as I do. To begin with it was her eyes and her relatively dark voice, and then of course she is such an exciting person, but also very responsive.”
In October 2001, Frederik again travels to Sydney to be with Mary and to enjoy springtime in Australian. They have now known each other for thirteen months, and it is during Frederik’s two-week stay that they decide that Mary should move to Europe. Things have become unmanageable with the couple being able to see each other so seldom. Now their love must stand the test. For Mary in particular, this is a radical decision with far-reaching consequences. She will be leaving her family, her friends, her job. Yet neither of them is in any doubt that they are doing the right thing as they kiss each other goodbye on Friday, November 9, 2001.
This was to be their last time together in Australia as an anonymous couple. After a secret romance lasting more than a year, the Danish press finally gets wind. Who is she? Who will get the story first? Less than flattering methods are brought into play. The print-runs of the weekly gossip magazines are set to sky-rocket with news of royal romance. Se og Hør and Billed-Bladet go all-out to be first with the story. Already in September, 2001, Se og Hør – much to Frederik’s amusement – identifies his new girlfriend as Belinda Stowell, a sailing gold-medallist at the Sydney Games.
Years of living under the constant eye of the press have taught Frederik that it is a matter of time, weeks or days, before news gets out. But he and Mary have more than a year’s head-start on the gossip press and are as yet still able to enjoy a stroll around Sydney away from prying eyes.
All that changes three days after Frederik’s return home. When Mary Donaldson leaves her office at Belle Property late in the afternoon of Monday, November 12, Billed-Bladet’s journalist Anna Johannesen is waiting to pop the question: Are you going out with the Crown Prince?
“No comment,” is Mary’s reply. A photographer reels off a series of pictures and on Thursday that same week Mary appears on the front cover of Billed-Bladet, which thereby is able to live up to its slogan “Denmark’s Royal Weekly”. As if by the wave of a wand, Mary Donaldson of Belle Property is now famous in Denmark. Peace and anonymity are lost for ever. Her office is descended upon by press photographers and journalists. One of the Danish gossip weeklies hires an Australian freelancer to go through Mary’s rubbish bin in the hope of digging something up about the shopping habits of the Crown Prince’s new girlfriend.
But Mary and Frederik have made their decision. Mary hands over the lease on Porter Street to her friend Andrew Miles, packs her bags and moves initially to Paris. Closer to Frederik. Now they are able to meet at weekends.
Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken
© Gitte Redder & Karin Palshøj and Rosinante&Co/Høst & Søn, 2008
Translation © Martin Aitken, 2008