In a sign of the times, Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark won’t be hosting a lavish banquet at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen to celebrate her 50th birthday on Friday as planned.
With daily COVID-19 case numbers averaging 40,000 infections, she cancelled the party and, in a People’s Princess kind of way, included the whole country with an emotional magazine interview, a stunning photo shoot and numerous appearances to open exhibitions in her honour.
And among the hundreds of birthday messages and presents from around the world, there’s one cheeky birthday card sent from Tasmanian tourism that will no doubt surprise and delight her.
“The Mary Foundation’s planned birthday celebration is postponed until later in the year,” a statement read on the official royal website.
Princess Mary, formerly Mary Donaldson of Hobart, famously met her future husband Frederik at a Sydney bar during the 2000 Olympic Games.
She moved to Denmark a year later, and went from commoner to royal, marrying the heir to the Danish throne in a fairytale wedding in 2004.
They have four children together – Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 14, and Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, both 11.
In a candid interview last week with Eurowoman Magazine before her milestone birthday on February 5, Princess Mary spoke about the advice her mother Henrietta Donaldson gave her before her death from a heart condition in 1997.
“My mother always said, ‘You can only be yourself’. She was absolutely right about that.
“I have reminded myself of those words when I have occasionally had the experience that I was about to lose myself. For my life has offered great changes – joys and sorrows – that I had to go through.
“There are several landmark events: The grief of losing my mother. The joy of even becoming a mother. My time at university. To meet Frederik. To get married to the Crown Prince and become the Crown Princess for the Denmark and the Danish people that I love so much.
“And maybe to be 50 – who knows …?” she said.
Yes, it is a landmark event, Mary, and the palace agrees.
Princess Mary ‘dazzles’ before week of celebration
On February 2, the palace released a series of 50th birthday portraits of Princess Mary wearing a Ruby Parure Tiara with matching earrings, a bracelet, a brooch and a ring from the royal collection – the same set of jewels worn by her following news of her engagement to Prince Frederik in 2003.
Taken at their home in Copenhagen, Frederik VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg, there were six portraits released, including three of Queen Margrethe’s son, 53, in dress military uniform.
According to Vogue magazine, Mary “dazzles” in a sky-blue gown by Danish designer Lasse Spangenberg.
They both also wear the Royal Orders of Chivalry, with Mary pinning hers, the distinguished Order of the Elephant, to a pale-blue sash worn across the body.
People magazine reports the fascinating history of the exquisite tiara, which dates back to the imperial coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France.
“Désirée Clary, the wife of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was once engaged to Bonaparte, wore the newly acquired jewels at the coronation as she followed Empress Josephine down the aisle, carrying her veil and handkerchief on a pillow,” the magazine wrote.
Prince Frederik was eventually handed down the jewellery collection to be worn by his future wife.
Documentary replaces extravagant gala dinner party
Although Princess Mary won’t get a chance to wear her tiara to Rosenborg Castle, a week of celebrations will culminate in a ‘birthday show’ the whole country can watch.
Mary 50 – We Celebrate Denmark’s Crown Princess will be broadcast on televisions throughout the country on TV2 on February 6.
The official royal website reports the ‘Crown Prince Family’ will attend the TV show, which takes place in the Vilhelm Lauritzen Terminal in Kastrup.
In a trailer for the show, we see archival vision of Mary’s royal journey towards becoming a respected and much-loved member of the family.
She swapped out her Australian citizenship and learnt Danish from scratch, as seen at a formal gala dinner for her husband’s 50th, where she delivered a speech full of tenderness and humour.
There’s shots of her hugging refugee children, playing basketball with school kids, at a present-day press call with her four children and even jumping on a giant inflatable pillow.
According to her official itinerary, on February 2, Princess Mary was set to visit the Copenhagen Zoo, where she will open an exhibition of native Australian animals called ‘Mary’s Australian Garden’ in tribute to her heritage.
Later in the day she’ll open a University of Copenhagen knowledge centre, which will bear the name ‘Crown Princess Mary Centre – solving problems through research and partnerships’.
On February 3, Mary will head across to the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Palace for the opening of an exhibition ‘HRH Crown Princess Mary 1972-2022’, which will display “portraits, clothing and personal items” … [of her] personal history and importance for the Royal House of Denmark and the Realm.
And on February 6, according to local media reports, Princess Mary gets a new stamp, wearing a stunning multi-coloured sweater, which will be released in Greenland.
Aaww … ‘From Tasmania, with love’
Prince Frederik may be buying her some more Georg Jensen jewellery and taking her on a romantic weekend on a yacht somewhere, but Tasmanian tourism gets three votes here.
In a visual overload of Tasmanian food, wine, culture and crayfish, Discover Tasmania has sent a video message cut to music to wish Mary a happy birthday.
In a cheeky, 45-second clip posted on Twitter on February 2, there are just captions written in Danish and English, with no voiceover,
“Dear Crown Princess Mary, we know you don’t live in Taroona anymore … but next time you visit … you’ll see it’s just as hygge* as ever.”
“Happy 50th birthday. From Tasmania”.
[*a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment]