Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will be the first Australian-born monarch

She married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark on 14 May 20042 and became the heir apparent to the Danish throne. Following the abdication of Queen Margrethe II in favour of her son, Frederik, on 14 January 2024, Mary is expected to become queen consort of Denmark. She will become the first Australian-born person to become queen of a European monarchy.

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Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth of Denmark will become the country’s Queen Consort later this month, completing the fairy tale climb of an Australian sales professional to the highest levels of European royalty.

The sudden abdication of Queen Margrethe II, who declared her intention to step down on January 14, paved the final leg of Mary’s road from Tasmania to the Danish throne on New Year’s Eve.

It’s an extremely uncommon move in Denmark, where a king hasn’t abdicated since King Eric III handed up the throne in 1146 to enter a monastery, according to the Royal House.

Crown Prince Frederik, Margrethe’s eldest son, will become King, while his wife, Crown Princess Mary, will become the first Australian to become Queen, a development that has pleased her fans at home.

It’s a fitting conclusion for many of Mary’s Australian fans to a courtship that famously began in a boisterous Sydney pub around the time of the Olympics in 2000.

According to legend, the two caught eyes in the Slip Inn, an unusual location to discover a Danish royal, let alone the origins of a pair who would eventually become Denmark’s future King and Queen.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Australian born Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth Donaldson married in May 2004.
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Australian born Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth Donaldson married in May 2004.

Millions watched the couple get married in 2004. Two decades later, their ascension to the throne is expected to captivate audiences worldwide – from Copenhagen to the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, where Mary was born.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said in a statement on Monday that the state “could not be prouder of Crown Princess Mary.”

“With her demonstrated humility, grace and kindness I am sure Crown Princess Mary will be embraced as Queen alongside her husband, King Frederik, once proclaimed later this month,” Rockliff said.

“I look forward to watching the next generation, and Tasmania’s own-born Queen, lead Denmark’s future.”

Abdication of the throne

For the most part, Queen Margrethe’s New Year’s Eve address covered familiar ground: a monarch summarizing the highs and lows of the previous year.

She discussed the misery of war, the loss of innocent life in Gaza, the growth of antisemitism, and the significance of Denmark’s support for Ukraine. She discussed climate change, the problems of artificial intelligence, and her joy in her 18-year-old grandson, Prince Christian.

Then the monarch turned to her own life and how recent successful back surgery had given her cause to think of the future. More specifically, she said she considered “whether now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation,” and she concluded that “now is the right time.”

“On January 14, 2024, I will abdicate as Queen of Denmark, 52 years after succeeding my beloved father.” “I will hand over the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik,” Margrethe said.

The statement abruptly interrupted New Year’s Eve celebrations in Denmark, requiring royal journalists to relay further information as soon as possible.

“Nobody was aware of this,” Kristian Ring-Hansen Holt told Australia’s ABC morning show.

According to Juliet Rieden, editor-at-large for The Australian Women’s Weekly, most Danes expected Margrethe to stay in the job indefinitely, similar to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who governed until her death in September 2022.

However, in retrospect, some decisions indicated that Queen Margrethe had been preparing to step down, as Reiden informed CNN. For instance, her efforts to streamline the royal family and revoke royal titles from the children of her youngest son, Prince Joachim, and his wife, Princess Marie, who expressed discontent and recently relocated to the US.

“I believe she did it so that her son, Crown Prince Frederik, wouldn’t have to handle it in the early stages of his monarchy. She wanted to address everything beforehand so that he could commence with a clean slate,” suggested Rieden.

This move also aligns with the rationale of a pragmatic monarch aiming to present the royal family as a cost-effective institution, led by two of its most popular members, according to Rieden.

“The royal family enjoys an 82% popularity rate in Denmark – figures that politicians can only dream of,” Rieden added.

Denmark’s royals have a limited constitutional role, with parliamentary power. Monarchs fulfill a crucial ambassadorial function and approve new legislation.

In 1972, a popular queen Mary was born to a Scottish math professor and a British executive assistant. Her official biography states that she began her schooling in Houston, Texas, before returning to Hobart to attend school and university.

Mary began her career as an advertising executive and traveled around Europe before landing a position with a Sydney-based property business. She met Frederik, a young Danish royal whom she subsequently married in a grandiose ceremony broadcast internationally at Copenhagen Cathedral.

Four children followed, including Prince Christian, who is currently the heir apparent.

Apart from being admired for her grace and fashion sense, Mary has garnered a devoted following due to her unwavering commitment to social causes through The Mary Foundation, established in 2007.

Juliet Rieden expressed, “She’s a fierce advocate for the sexual rights of women and girls. She’s a fierce advocate for refugees. So she’s proved her worth as a serious role model and leader in Denmark, and I think Australia can be very proud of the sort of royal she has become.”

While Mary’s visits to her home country typically attract local attention, not all of them have been well-received. Last year, global media covered stories about Prince Frederik’s alleged romance with Mexican-born actress Genoveva Casanova.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JANUARY 30: Danish Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Mary Elizabeth Donaldson is seen outside Designers Nest during the Copenhagen Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 18 on January 30, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Casanova strongly refuted the claims and threatened legal action against Lecturas, the Spanish magazine that published images of them during a night out. The Royal House has not commented on the matter. Rieden suggested, “I think that that was probably an annoyance, one of those ‘never complain, never explain’ scenarios from the Danish royals. Nothing happened as far as they were concerned.”

When the new generation of Danish royals assumes the throne, there will be no elaborate coronation ceremony similar to Britain’s King Charles III last May. Although details are unconfirmed, the Royal House indicates that Queen Margrethe will abdicate at the Council of State, an advisory body for the monarchy.

Rieden anticipates that on January 14, the new King and Queen will likely appear on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace with the Danish prime minister, possibly waving from Amalienborg, the royal family’s official residence in Copenhagen. She stated, “I think we will see Mary and Frederik on the balcony, and I think we will see all of their family around them. And this will present the new modern monarchy of Denmark, and I think it’s going to be a very powerful image.”

Rieden believes that Mary’s popularity in Australia will likely increase, noting that featuring the princess on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine typically leads to higher sales. She remarked, “She’s a very, very popular cover star. So I think that popularity can only increase now she is to become a Queen.”

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