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Before they were royal: The life of Princess Marie of Denmark

In an interview for her 40th birthday in 2016, Princess Marie of Denmark said: “I had a great life – I didn’t need to be rescued by some Prince from Denmark.”

Marie Agathe Odile Cavallier was born on 6 February 1976 in Paris, France. She is the only child of Alain Cavallier -a partner in an advertising agency – and Françoise Moreau – the owner of the Château de la Vernède in the South of France. However, she has several step-siblings through her parents’ other marriages. She’s also the granddaughter of the late Baroness Odile de Sairigné.

When Alain Cavallier and Françoise Moreau (later Françoise Grassiot) divorced when Marie was 11-years-old, she followed her mother and her stepfather to Geneva, Switzerland. About the divorce, she said: “Because of the divorce, my family was no longer the safe haven that I once knew. My father was very sad, and my mother had a new man I’d never met before. It’s no secret that I was not fond of my mother’s decision. I was actually very angry with her. […]Although my mother has always been great to me, I’ve always loved my father very much, and I began to fantasise about getting away.”

At 13-years-old, she decided to go to an international boarding school in Switzerland, the Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil, a very prestigious school where members of the Luxembourg Grand Ducal Family, such as Princess Claire, have also studied. Princess Marie then went on to study economics in Geneva from 1994 to 1995 before studying international business and economics at Babson College in Massachusetts from 1995 to 1997. She also earned a Bachelor in Arts at Marymount Manhattan College from 1997 to 1999. During her studies, Marie worked as the assistant to the public relations manager at Estée Lauder in 1994 and as an assistant to the manager at ING Numismatic Group in Geneva in the summer of 1997. She also taught French.

After her studies, Marie went on to develop a career in marketing. She worked as international marketing coordinator for DoubleClick Inc. in New York before moving back to Paris in 2002 where she worked for the Media Marketing agency. In 2004, the future royal became an assistant to the managing director of the financial news agency Ridanz in Geneva. From 2005 to her wedding to Prince Joachim, she worked as an executive secretary in ING Numismatic Group.

Marie speaks French, English, Italian, and Spanish as well as Danish, and she went on to promote the teaching and learning of the French language in Denmark in her work as Princess of Denmark.

She met Prince Joachim in 2002 when he was still married to his first wife, Countess Alexandra of Fredensborg, but they didn’t start dating until 2006. Marie said in her 40th birthday interview: “I’d been fending for myself for years, and it felt overwhelming that suddenly everyone apparently had an opinion about me[…] There was no doubt in my heart that I loved him, but I had my life. I was happy, and I had my pride. I simply was not ready to get married and take on the responsibility it would be to become part of the [Danish] Royal Family.” She revealed that she was also worried by the sudden and overwhelming attention from the media and the Danish people, and she did wonder if it was worth it.

However, Prince Joachim and Marie Cavallier’s engagement was announced on 3 October 2007, and they got married on 24 May 2008. Ahead of the wedding, she renounced her French citizenship and became a Danish citizen. She also converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of Denmark.

At the Bakken theme park in 2017, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, with their two children, Prince Henrik and Princess Athena. Photo: Henrik Petit (CC BY-ND 3.)/ Bakken

Upon her marriage, Marie became HRH Princess Marie of Denmark, Countess of Montpezat, and she became the stepmother of Prince Joachim’s eldest children Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix. Prince Joachim and Princess Marie have two children, Prince Henrik born on 4 May 2009 and Princess Athena born on 24 January 2012.

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