Copenhagen - A Surprisingly Royal Visit
On a recent visit to my home town of Copenhagen I was attending the Nordic Fashion Summit and ended up, by pure chance, sitting directly opposite from Princess Mary of Denmark during the finale of the event – an eco-fashion show stunningly staged outside the Copenhagen Opera House, overlooking the habour in glorious sunshine.
In between admiring the scenery and wondering how someone could possibly have made a dress out of material fashioned from crab shells, I could not help but be struck by the utter poise of Mary and how elegantly she carried herself. I silently congratulated myself on not being a royal - it is difficult to quantify exactly how much I would suck at emulating this kind of ladylike behaviour whenever in public, but let's just say – it's a lot!
Before I carry on, let me make this clear - I am not a devoted follower of the monarchy, be it the English or the Danish version. During this recent trip however, I could not help but notice the uncanny parallels between the heirs to our thrones.
In 2004 Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark married “commoner” Mary from Tasmania, Australia who has since had four children and become the sweetheart of the Danish people. She is pretty, trendy and extremely active in her patronage of various causes, including eco-fashion. To top it off, her and Frederik and their mini-tribe behave like a normal family as much as possible. Frederik can even be spotted carting some of his numerous offspring to kindergarten in a bicycle trailer – a traditional Danish custom. It is anyone's guess how much of this is a PR stunt and how much stems from a deeper desire to truly be "one of the people". Either way - it's seems to be working!
Fast forward to 2011 and Crown Prince William marries “commoner” Kate. Not only does the (now) Duchess of Cambridge look rather similar to HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, William is not a million miles in looks from Frederik (had to drop the titles there, they were getting just a bit too long winded!). So except for the slight time lapse, the modern monarchies of Denmark and the United Kingdom seem to be developing in conspicuous synchronicity. Now Kate just has to drop out a few little ones and the picture is complete.
This alone was however not what spurred me on to expel this royal prose. Caught out by a surprise Bank Holiday and supremely bad weather, I went to the cinema on a friend’s recommendation to watch a Danish film called "A Royal Affair". With Danish cinema better known for its gritty realism, I was unsure how this ambitious costume drama would fare. I was pleasantly surprised. Chronicling the intrigue and tragedy of a peculiar love triangle in the mid-1700’s between the mentally ill Danish king Christian VII, his English wife Princess Caroline and the king’s doctor Struensee, a progressive thinker who incidentally kicked off widespread reform in Denmark, it was accomplished. It also made a few things clear to me that I really should have known from history lessons, but had conveniently put in that place in my brain I endearingly call “The Drawer I Ignore”. Details aside, it was a remarkable reminder how far society and the monarchy has come in a few hundred years, but also an uncanny nod to the entwining of the Danish and English Royal families.
I guess this is where the big conclusion ought to be, but I have to disappoint you and say that I don’t have one. This is merely my somewhat puzzled observations from a weekend in Copenhagen that turned out to have more than a hint of Royalism about it. Make of it what you will and I salute you with a very un-royal wave.