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The early life of a baby born to be queen

She’s about to mark a very important moment for her family and for the royal dynasty that she married into. It will be a day marked with a glittering gala and appearances on a famous palace balcony. In October 2023, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will see her eldest child, Prince Christian, celebrate his coming of age in festivities that will include royalty from across Europe. Her baby boy, now an adult, is in line to reign in Denmark one day. And his proud mother is set to be the country’s first queen consort in decades when her own husband, Frederik, takes the throne. It’s a far cry from the early life of a woman born to be queen.

Who knows if she imagined, when she was a little girl, that she would end up living her own fairytale on the opposite end of the globe and beloved by the people for whom she will one day serve as Queen Consort. 

Mary Elizabeth Donaldson was born an ordinary baby when she came into the world on 5 February 1972, the youngest of four children born to Henrietta and John Donaldson. Henrietta was an executive assistant to the vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania, and John was a mathematics professor. 

She has three older siblings: sisters Jane and Patricia and brother John. 

In 1974, Mary began her schooling at Clear Lake City Elementary School in Houston, Texas, because her father was working in the Lone Star State in the US. Only one year later, the family moved back to Sandy Bay, a suburb of Hobart in Tasmania, where the future Crown Princess attended the rest of elementary school until 1977. 

From 1978 to 1983, she attended primary school at Waimea Heights, and she was in Taroona High School from 1984 to 1987. 

She studied at Hobart Matriculation College between 1988 and 1989 and went on to study at the University of Tasmania from 1990 to 1995, when she graduated with a mixed Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Law. Between 1994 and 1996, she attended a graduate program that qualified her with certificates in advertising from the Advertising Federation of Australia and the Australian Direct Marketing Association. 

The family experienced the worst grief possible when Henrietta died from complications of heart surgery on 20 November 1997. Mary was 25-years-old. 

After her 1995 graduation, she worked for both Australian and international advertising companies, changing many jobs before eventually landing in Denmark. 

In 1995, she moved to Melbourne, where she worked as an account executive at DBB Needham, one of the world’s largest advertising companies. When DBB Needham became DBB Worldwide in 1996, Mary became an account manager at Mojo Partners, a company whose name was discontinued in 2016. 

In 1998, six months after her mother’s death, she resigned from Mojo Partners and travelled around America and Europe. In Edinburgh, she worked for three months as an account manager at Rapp Collins Worldwide before moving back to Australia. In early 1999, she got a job as an account manager at Young & Rubicam international advertising agency, located in Sydney. 

A few months after, her life changed drastically when she met Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark at the Slip Inn pub in Sydney on 16 September 2000. The Crown Prince was in Australia for the Olympic Games and was taking some time off with his friends/relatives (and royals) then-Prince Felipe of Spain, his brother Prince Joachim, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, and his cousin Prince Nikolaos of Greece. Felipe managed to introduce the two, as he knew Mary’s flatmate. 

Following the encounter, the two maintained a long-distance relationship until Mary moved to Paris in 2002, where she worked as an English tutor. Mary’s native language is English, and she studied French during her school years, which made it easier to communicate with her father-in-law, Prince Henrik, who was born in France. In 2003, when in Copenhagen, she studied Danish as a foreign language at Studieskolen.

In the second half of 2002, she moved to Denmark, where she held the position of project consultant for business development, communications and marketing at Microsoft Business Solutions. She worked there from 5 September 2002 until 24 September 2003, a date that coincides with the announcement by the Danish Royal Court that Queen Margarethe was to consent to their marriage during the next State Council, scheduled for 8 October 2003. 

That day, Crown Prince Frederik and Mary became officially engaged, and the rest is history. 

Crown Princess Mary has brought a lot of her work experience into her life as a royal, visible not only in the causes she chose to support but also in her work ethic and her time management skills, which were on full display in the various documentaries about the daily life of the Danish Royal Family that have been broadcast in the years since she became one of its most famous members.

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