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How Mary met Fred: Olympics and royal love stories

When one thinks about the Olympics, love stories are not the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, the international event springs to mind fierce competitions, medals, country pride, and history. There are quite a few royals who have met their future spouses at the Olympic Games. In part one of a four-part series, we take a look at one of the royal couples who met at the Olympic Games and fell in love.

When Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark travelled to Sydney, Australia, for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, he could not have imagined that in a pub in Australia, he would meet his future wife. However, that is exactly what occurred on 16 September in the Slip Inn in Sydney. He was at the Slip Inn with his brother, Prince Joachim, his cousin, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway after the opening ceremony. There they met up with the paternal cousin of Nikolaos, Prince Felipe of Spain. Felipe knew the sister of Mary’s flatmate.

Mary Donaldson, a graduate of the University of Tasmania with a degree in Commerce and Law, went to the pub with her flatmate, Andrew Miles and friend, Beatrice Tarnawski. While there, Beatrice began debating with Mary whether or not a man was more attractive with a hairy chest or not. Frederick, Joachim, and Nikolaos offered to be guinea pigs. After the debate between Beatrice and Mary, Frederick and Mary started up a conversation. They found they had things in common like their love of horses, adventure, and sports. At the end of the evening, Mary gave Frederick her telephone number, and he called her the very next day.

Crown Prince Frederick later said he felt like she was his soulmate when they met. Mary, on the other hand, has said it was not love at first sight since she barely knew him. However, she did admit they shared an immediate connection and that there was a sense of excitement after the meeting.

The relationship began as long distance. First, they corresponded through phone calls, letters, and e-mail. Then, Frederick began to make trips to Australia to spend time with Mary. For a while, Mary was able to remain out of the media spotlight, but that all changed after a little over a year, according to Crown Prince Frederick. She was finally identified as Mary Donaldson, from Tasmania, Australia, in November 2001. In December 2001, she made her first visit to the Kingdom of Denmark. By January, Frederick had confirmed the relationship, at which point Mary was teaching English in Paris. Later that year, she moved to Denmark.

After arriving in Denmark, she began working for Microsoft Business Solutions as a Project Consultant for business development, marketing, and communications. She also began taking lessons in the Danish language.

On 24 September, it was announced that Queen Margrethe intended to give her consent to the marriage of her eldest son to Mary Donaldson when she attended the State Council meeting on 8 October. It was on that day that they became officially engaged. Frederick gave Mary an engagement ring that featured an emerald-cut diamond and two emerald-cut ruby baguettes, which resembles the Danish flag when he proposed on bended knee, in English, on a trip to Rome.

Prior to the wedding, Mary was granted Danish citizenship and converted to the Lutheran Church of Denmark. She had previously been a dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom and a Presbyterian. They were wed on 14 May 2004 at the Copenhagen Cathedral. Mary had her two sisters, Jane and Patricia, as bridesmaids. Frederick’s younger brother, Prince Joachim, was his best man.

The couple’s first child, Prince Christian, was born on 15 October 2005. Princess Isabella followed on 21 April 2007. Crown Princess Mary gave birth to twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine on 8 January 2011. The family currently resides at Frederik VIII’s Palace, which is one of the four palaces making up Amalienborg Palace in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.