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Everything we know about Queen Mary of Denmark

Crown Princess Mary was named Queen of Denmark during her husband’s coronation on 14 January

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 15 January 2024 14:14 GMT
Related: Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II announces shock abdication in New Year’s Eve speech

Following the abdication of Queen Margrethe II, her son - Crown Prince Frederik - has ascended the throne as Denmark’s new monarch. His wife Crown Princess Mary has officially become Denmark’s newest queen - making her the first Australian-born queen of a European monarchy.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark shockingly announced her abdication in her traditional New Year’s Eve speech earlier this month. In the televised speech, she explained that her decision came after back surgery she underwent in February 2023. Her eldest son succeeded the throne on 14 January - 52 years to the day she became queen following the death of her father, King Frederik IX, in 1972.

The King of Denmark, whose full name is Frederik André Henrik Christian, has been married to his wife since 2004. They share four children together: Crown Prince Christian, 18, Princess Isabella, 16, and 13-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

Prior to their relationship, Queen Mary led a successful career outside of the monarchy. Ever since her chance encounter with King Frederik at a pub, she has become a vocal advocate for several social issues - including taking part in anti-bullying campaigns, advocating for immigrants, and voicing her support for LGBTQ+ rights.

Not only has the new queen worked with many charities and organisations, but she’s also been recognised numerous times as one of the world’s most fashionable people.

Here’s everything to know about Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark

Mary, Queen of Denmark was born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson on 5 February 1972 at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Battery Point, Hobart - the capital city of Tasmania. She is the youngest of four children to Scottish parents, Henrietta (née Horne) and John Dalgleish Donaldson. Her mother served as an executive assistant to the vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania, while her father was a mathematics professor. Henrietta died in November 1997 following complications from heart surgery. In 2001, her father married British author and novelist Susan Elizabeth Donaldson (née Horwood).

At two years old, Mary’s family moved from Australia to Texas when her father began working as a professor of applied mathematics at NASA’s Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre in Houston. She then moved back to Tasmania where she continued her primary education and secondary schooling. From 1990 to 1994, Mary was a student at the University of Tasmania, where she graduated with a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws degree. She then enrolled in a graduate programme and completed her certificates in advertising from the Advertising Federation of Australia and direct marketing from the Australian Direct Marketing Association.

King Frederik and Queen Mary of Denmark visit Seoul, South Korea, on 10 May 2012 (Getty Images)

Following her education, Mary embarked on a career in advertising and worked for several Australian and global advertising agencies. In Melbourne, she was promoted from trainee to account executive at DDB Needham - a worldwide marketing communications network. After her mother’s death, she relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland, and began working as an account manager with Rapp Collins Worldwide. However, soon after she moved back to Australia and worked multiple jobs as an account director.

The King and Queen of Denmark first met in 2000. They came across each other at the Slip Inn in Sydney, where Frederik was visiting with his brother - Prince Joachim - and other members of European nobility during the 2000 Summer Olympics. At the time, Mary was working at real estate firm Belle Property as a sales director.

The pair were reportedly introduced through a mutual friend; Prince Felipe of Spain, who was travelling with then-Crown Prince Frederik, and who knew the sister of Mary’s flatmate. Frederik and Mary felt an instant connection and began a long distance relationship shortly after first meeting, with Frederik making discreet visits to Australia. The couple were able to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, until Danish weekly magazine Billed Bladet named Mary as Frederik’s girlfriend.

By 2002, Mary was teaching English at a business school in Paris. When it came time to make her permanent move to Denmark, she began working for Microsoft Business Solutions as a project consultant for business development, marketing, and communications.

On 24 September 2003, the Danish court announced that Queen Margrethe II intended to give her consent to their marriage at a State Council meeting the following month. In October that year, Frederik and Mary became officially engaged. He reportedly proposed with an engagement ring that featured a 1.5 carat emerald-cut diamond and two emerald-cut rubies, invoking the colour of Denmark’s flag.

Their wedding took place on 14 May 2004 at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, the city’s cathedral. Prior to their nuptials, Mary was granted Danish citizenship and had converted from Presbyterianism to the Lutheran Church of Denmark. Mary’s two sisters, Jane and Patricia, served as bridesmaids, while Frederick’s younger brother, Prince Joachim, was his best man.

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wave from the balcony of Christian VII’s Palace after their wedding on 14 May 2004 in Copenhagen, Denmark (Getty Images)

The future crown princess wore a wedding dress crafted by Danish fashion designer Uffe Frank, while her veil was previously worn by Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden in 1905 and her daughter Ingrid in 1935. The veil, made from Irish lace, was even worn by her mother-in-law during her wedding to French diplomat, Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, in 1967. Mary was the first and only person not born into the royal family to wear the veil, while her tiara was a gift from Queen Margrethe II.

Upon their wedding day, Mary was given the title of Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark. The event was celebrated by the public as a “fairy tale” union between a member of the royal family and a commoner.

Their first child, Crown Prince Christian Valdemar Henri John, was born on 15 October 2005 in Copenhagen, followed by Princess Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe on 21 April 2007. Mary then gave birth to twins Prince Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander and Princess Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda on 8 January 2011.

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark with Queen Margrethe II and their children in April 2022 (Getty Images)

In September 2007, she established her own charitable organisation, The Mary Foundation, which focuses on initiatives such as anti-bullying, advocating for domestic violence survivors, and combating loneliness.

To mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in 2016, Mary delivered a speech on LGBTQ+ rights in Copenhagen. During her speech, she called for an end to discrimination, oppression, and violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Two years later, she delivered another address about LGBTQ+ rights at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

That same year, she became the first member of the royal family to attend the Danish Rainbow awards - an annual award ceremony organised by Rainbow Business Denmark, to pay tribute to individuals and organisations that are creating better living conditions for the LGBTQ+ community. She attended subsequent awards ceremonies in 2019 and 2020. In 2021, she served as patron of WorldPride Copenhagen - carrying out numerous engagements in connection with the event and even giving the closing speech for the week-long celebrations that August.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark delivers speech during WorldPride parade in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 August 2021 (Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima)

Mary’s sense of fashion and style was acknowledged by Vanity Fair in 2010, when she was named on its International Best-Dressed List. She’s been featured in several fashion magazines, including Vogue Australia and German Vogue.

During a Council of State in October 2019, her mother-in-law requested to appoint Mary a rigsforstander - a person who functions as regent when the monarch is unable to perform royal duties. After having sworn to respect the Danish constitution, Mary became the first person not born into the royal family to assume the position of rigsforstander since Queen Ingrid of Sweden in 1972.

Following Frederik’s ascension to the throne on 14 January, her husband has assumed the new title of King of Denmark while Mary will be henceforth known as the Queen of Denmark. The Danish Royal House has confirmed that their eldest child, Prince Christian, will also be given the title change of Crown Prince Christian.

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