A day in the life of Crown Princess Mary
Crown Princess Mary hasn't done an interview and photo shoot with an Australian media outlet since The Australian Women's Weekly last interviewed her in 2005. Before that, Vogue Australia and Andrew Denton's Enough Rope were her only Australian media. So we are thrilled to bring you this global exclusive to celebrate our 80th birthday.
I had been told to just turn up at the Palace gates and knock, but arriving in Amelienborg Square the day before we were due to meet Crown Princess Mary I realised we had a problem. Which gates and which Palace!
The square features four identical buildings and each has two sets of gates. All look equally regal and spectacular. My fine-tuned journalistic nose led me to the one palace building open to the public: the gift shop.
"If one were to be visiting Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik, which Palace and which gate might one use," I gingerly enquired of the shop assistant, expecting to be given my marching orders as some sort of suspicious interloper.
To my surprise he was more than helpful and pointed out the Palace, the correct gate, and added that the royal children were home today but Crown Prince Frederik was off sailing!
The next day, armed with suitcases bulging with designer gowns, myself, fashion editor Mattie Cronan and our photographer Michelle Holden arrived at the gates at the allotted hour and were welcomed inside by Crown Princess Mary and her team who had laid on a lovely spread of fresh fruit and coffee.
We opened up our suitcases to reveal the gowns made by Australian designers specifically for this shoot and hung them up on a rail for Crown Princess Mary to peruse.
She was thrilled by the innovation and beauty of the designers' work and I think she enjoyed showing off her nation's creativity to her Danish compatriots. She then excitedly showed us around her home, Frederik VIII's Palace, one room at a time, each more beautiful than the last.
It is a totally stunning building and not what you would expect; full of natural light and a rather fabulous combination of modernity with antique.
Dominating the walls are incredible works of art by Danish contemporary artists many of whom reference the Crown Princess and Crown Prince and include lots of images of Australia Tasmania especially and things special to the couple.
Some of the art works used special paint techniques and each was unique and incredible in its own right. Colour featured everywhere.
Before the renovation which took six years and was managed personally by The Crown Prince Couple the walls were largely white, but now they were blue, green and yellow with rich gold on the mouldings and columns.
Every now and again Crown Princess Mary would bend down to pick up a toy or a plastic bracelet left by one of her children. A Palace yes, but a family home as well.
The Crown Princess was incredibly welcoming and following our tour, spent a long time trying on all the gowns we had brought before we decided which would work for our shoot the following day.
We started early and as we arrived with our van of lights and equipment, Crown Princess Mary drove out waving as she took her kids to school.
I had been planning this day for so long and after months of meetings, phone calls, a week in Malaysia with the Crown Princess we were finally here with the sun beaming through the windows and the wonderful backdrop of the Palace to shoot in.
The Crown Princess was a dream to work with, a natural in front of the camera relaxed and beautiful.
Throughout it all, her faithful hound Ziggy entertained us and ensured he featured in our garden shots. To make Ziggy lift her ears on cue I threw her favourite football in the air. Ziggy obliged.
Late in the day Princess Isabella came back from school, ran upstairs to get changed for her dance class and then snuck into our shots also, hugging her mum. And even though we were still working, Prince Christian carried on with his piano lesson as we photographed his mother in her tiara.
It was a magical day and one I suspect I will never forget. If there's such a thing as the perfect princessly behaviour, Mary has it in spades.
Read the full interview with Crown Princess Mary and see all the stunning photographs in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, out today.