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Mary: Crown Princess of Denmark

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark
By Karin Palshoj & Gitte Redder,
translated by Zanne Jappe Mallett
Published in Australia by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 1 74114 749 2

By LIA VAUGHN | Once upon a time, in a land far away … This pleasant book, written by two Danes and translated by a third, doesn’t quite start that way. However, it does begin with the birth in Hobart, Tasmania, of Mary Donaldson on February 5, 1972.

On the same day, the writers point out, it was at freezing point in Denmark, 16,202 kilometres away to be exact, and three-year-old Frederik was yet to learn what it was like to have a mother who was a queen, as Margrethe II had succeeded to the throne just three weeks earlier.

That Frederik and Mary would meet in a Sydney pub 32 years later and fall in love is usually called a fairytale. Fairytale, of course not, but greatly against the odds and so very romantic — which is where the hype and media hysteria began.

In an effort to avoid this, the two Danish journalists say in their Preface that they have not indulged in speculation with the risk of being accused of passing on rumours and innuendoes, but rather have stuck to the facts to let readers get to know the Crown Princess; her childhood, homeland and cultural roots.

They wrote for a Danish audience, a public with great affection for the queen and her family, extraordinarily content to continue with an hereditary monarchy (oldest in the world) in a symbolic role. Much of this public, it would appear, just can’t get enough ‘Mary’ and the book does its best to fill them in on every known fact.

The book also features several pics of the elegant Crown Princess, and a couple from her younger years when she was simply the nice, friendly Mary Donaldson of Sandy Bay.

In addition, this book gives some interesting background material, describes Mary’s many palaces, and then explains how fragile the Danish/Nordic monarchies are. It’s ironic, but their contention is that marrying a commoner as many royal scions are doing today, despite being popular at the time, does make monarchies more vulnerable.

Apart from this chapter of quite serious analysis, the rest of the book is a step-by-step account of Mary’s upbringing, Frederik’s too, their meeting, courtship, and the wedding in minute detail. The list of wedding presents alone is mind-boggling.

In other words, it’s seriously a book for serious Mary watchers — and not badly written either. Below, the couple pose in front of one of their castles.

Footnote: Unlike the other new book on the market called There’s something about Mary, by newspaper columnist Emma Tom, a colleague (Danish, and probably biased) who wrote a review for Tasmanian Times says it’s quite trivial and is mostly about how this Sydney super-scooper failed to get her girl. Evidently a sort of non-biography. If you too don’t believe in the princess X factor, check it out here with all its Tomfoolery

Next entry: The Mary Phenomenon

Previous entry: The Spud Wars

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