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Crown Princess Mary, a very modern royal

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is one of the busiest royals in Europe with a wide range of issues attracting her support as she continues a packed agenda covering areas such as early years and work against bullying.

Her story has been billed as a fairytale after she met and fell in love with the future King of Denmark when he visited her home country, Australia, for the 2000 Olympics. But Mary has built a strong royal role of her own. Meet the woman who will one day been Queen Consort of Denmark.

Birth and Childhood

Mary Elizabeth Donaldson was born on 5 February 1972 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. She was the youngest child of John and Henrietta Donaldson. She has two older sisters, Jane and Patricia, and an older brother, John.

Mary’s mother died in 1997, and her father remarried, to Susan Horwood, a British novelist, in 2001.

As a child, Mary excelled in sports and music. She played basketball and hockey and studied the piano, flute and clarinet.

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Pre-royal Life

Mary lived abroad periodically due to her father’s work, and started school in Texas, but was back in Tasmania by 1977. Starting in 1978, she attended Waimea Heights, followed by secondary school at Taroona High School. She matriculated at Hobart College in 1989.

Mary attended the University of Tasmania from 1990-1994 and graduated with a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Law degree. She then studied in a graduate programme and received certifications in advertising from the Advertising Federation of Australia and the Australian Direct Marketing Association.

Mary moved to Melbourne and worked in advertising at DDB Needham. She also worked for Mojo Partners, Rapp Collins Worldwide, in Edinburgh. After her mother’s death, Mary travelled around the world, spending time in the United States and Scotland.

She returned to Sydney and took a job with Young & Rubicam. In 2000 she worked briefly for Love Branding but left to work as a sales director for Belle Property, which dealt in luxury properties. In 2002, she moved to Europe and taught English in Paris, but when she moved to Denmark permanently, she began working for Microsoft Business Solutions. There, she was a project consultant for its business development and communications and marketing.

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An Olympic Relationship

Mary met her future husband, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark at the Slip Inn in Sydney, while he was there as part of the official Danish delegation for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Mary only found out about his identity after they’d met, but the two couldn’t deny the attraction and corresponded daily after he returned to Denmark.

In November 2001, the Danish tabloids reported that Mary was Frederik’s girlfriend. By December, she had moved to Denmark. Less than two years later, the couple was officially engaged, with Queen Margrethe giving consent to their marriage at the 8 October 2003 State Council meeting. Mary’s engagement ring features two emerald-cut rubies and an emerald-cut diamond, meant to resemble the Danish flag.

To prepare for the wedding, Mary renounced her Australian and United Kingdom citizenship and converted from Presbyterianism to Lutheranism.

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On 14 May 2004, Mary finally married her prince in the Copenhagen Cathedral. Her wedding dress was designed by Danish designer Uffe Frank and her veil was Irish lace, and it had been worn by every Danish royal bride since Queen Ingrid (who inherited it from her mother Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden). Mary’s sisters and friend, Amber Riley, acted as her bridesmaids, and Prince Joachim served as his brother’s best man.

After the wedding, Mary’s bouquet was taken to Scotland by one of her aunts to lay on her mother’s grave.

Upon her marriage, Mary was officially created as Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. In 2008, she gained a secondary title, Countess of Monpezat. When Crown Prince Frederik ascends to the Danish throne, Mary will become Queen Mary of and will be the first Australian woman to hold the title.

Crown Princess Mary has four children: Prince Christian (born 15 October 2005), Princess Isabella (born 21 April 2007), and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine (born 8 January 2011). Prince Christian will succeed his father as King of Denmark.

A Busy Crown Princess

Almost immediately after her honeymoon, Crown Princess Mary dove into her new role. By the end of the summer, the royal couple had travelled around Denmark in the royal yacht, visited Iceland, and attended the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She has since travelled around the world.

Crown Princess Mary is the patron of many charities and organisations including the Children’s Aid Foundation, the Danish Cancer Foundation, Rare Disorders Denmark, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe.

Crown Princess Mary is also renowned for her fashion sense and routinely appears on best-dressed lists around the world. She was inducted into Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 2016. She and her family have appeared in Vogue Australia several times. She lends her help to the Danish fashion industry in many ways and acts as the patron of the annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Crown Princess Mary during her work with the Mary Foundation. Photo: Steen Brogaard/Mary Foundation

Crown Princess Mary set up her own Mary Foundation in 2007, with the initial donations gifted as a wedding gift. The aim of the Mary Foundation, per its official website is, “To improve the lives of children, adults and families who – as a result of their environment, heredity, illness or other circumstances – find themselves socially isolated or excluded from society.” Currently, the foundation supports 11 initiatives in Denmark and Greenland.

The future

Crown Princess Mary can act as regent in Denmark if needed. Her eldest child, Prince Christian, also assumes that responsibility in 2023 as he turns 18. The Crown Princess played a central role in celebrations for Christian’s coming of age in October 2023.

Dennis Stenild, Kongehuset ©

As her first born reached the age of 18, it was his mother who took an official portrait of him and who was at his side as he greeted crowds from the royal balcony.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.