King Frederik acceded the Danish throne on Jan. 14, following his mother Queen Margrethe's abdication after a 52-year reign
Their relationship began in the most unlikely of places: a pub in Sydney, Australia’s Darling Harbor, thousands of miles from Denmark. Then-Prince Frederik was in town for the 2000 Olympics and first set eyes on the Australian-born Mary Donaldson at Sydney’s Slip Inn. The royal, who introduced himself simply as “Fred," struck up a conversation with Mary, a 28-year-old advertising executive from Tasmania, and the rest was history.
“Something clicked,” Mary said about the night they met in a 2005 interview. “It wasn’t the fireworks in the sky or anything like that, but there was a sense of excitement.”
That excitement evolved into a secret, long-distance romance, and by 2003, Mary had moved to Denmark and Queen Margrethe had given her consent for the couple to become engaged. They had a royal wedding in May 2004 in Copenhagen, making Mary a member of one of the oldest monarchies in the world.
“I don't recall wishing that one day I would be a princess,” Mary once said. “I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
After being known as Crown Princess Mary for nearly 20 years, she is now the queen consort of Denmark. Queen Margrethe announced in her New Year’s address on Dec. 31, 2023, that she would be abdicating the throne in January, making Frederik and his wife the new King and Queen of the Scandinavian nation. And though Queen Margrethe, 83, cited health concerns as her reasoning for stepping down from the throne, royal commentators mused that it was an effort to bolster Frederik and Mary’s bond after rumors of an affair surfaced in November 2023.
The suggestions of infidelity arose after Spanish media outlets published photos of then-Prince Frederik with philanthropist, model and TV personality Geneveva Casanova during his private trip to Madrid in October 2023. However, Casanova denied the allegations of a romance between her and the crown prince, calling them “completely untrue.”
Following Queen Margrethe's decision to abdicate the throne (which she held for 52 years), King Frederik and Queen Mary are set to usher in a new era to the Danish monarchy. Though they won't have a coronation, the pair — who have four children — assumed their new titles as king and queen consort with a proclamation on Jan. 14.
From their unlikely meeting to their royal romance, here is everything to know about King Frederik and Queen Mary’s love story.
They met at a pub in Sydney in 2000
Frederik and Mary’s royal love story began far away from the palaces of Denmark — in a local bar in Sydney.
The then-prince had traveled to Sydney in September 2000 to support Denmark's sailing team in the summer Olympic Games. While there, the then-32-year-old royal visited a pub called the Slip Inn in Sydney’s Darling Harbor — and met Mary Donaldson, a 28-year-old advertising executive who hailed from Tasmania.
The two hit it off, but when Mary first met Frederik — who introduced himself only as “Fred” — she had no idea he was a royal.
“The first time that we met or shook hands, I did not know he was the crown prince of Denmark,” Mary revealed in a 2003 interview with 60 Minutes Australia. “It was perhaps half an hour or so later that someone came up to me and said, ‘Do you know who these people are?’ ”
Frederik asked for Mary’s phone number that evening, and a romance began between the two.
"From the very first moment that we started talking, we never really stopped talking," Mary told 60 Minutes Australia. "It really established a strong relationship to begin with."
They had a long-distance relationship for nearly two years
The King and Queen spent the first two years of their romance in a long-distance relationship, with the Danish royal making secret trips to Australia to visit Mary. The pair also managed to keep their relationship out of the public eye for more than a year until a Danish tabloid revealed in November 2001 that they were an item.
“It was one of those relationships where we slowly got closer and closer to each other besides the geographical distance,” Frederik said in an interview with 60 Minutes Australia in 2003.
Their long-distance relationship continued until early 2002 when Mary relocated from Sydney to Copenhagen. In addition to moving halfway around the world, she also converted to the Lutheran Church and began studying Danish (a notoriously tough language to learn).
They announced their engagement in October 2003
In October 2003, three years after their initial meeting at the Slip Inn, Frederik and Mary announced their engagement. Prince Frederik proposed with an emerald-cut diamond flanked by a pair of ruby baguettes, an apparent nod to the colors of the Danish flag.
They were married on May 14, 2004
The future King Frederik and Queen Mary wed on May 14, 2004, at Copenhagen Cathedral, with a reception at Fredensborg Palace. For the royal wedding, Mary wore a long-sleeve ball gown by Danish designer Uffe Frank, a veil first used by Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden in 1905 and a tiara gifted to her from her new in-laws, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, according to Vogue Australia.
Mary’s personal history was also reflected in her wedding day ensemble: She carried a bouquet adorned with eucalyptus, a tribute to her native Australia, and her late mother’s engagement ring was sewn into her wedding dress, per Vogue Australia. (Her mother died in 1997 due to complications from heart surgery.)
“I love her, and I will protect her with all my heart,” Frederik vowed in his wedding speech.
They have four children together
They welcomed their eldest child, Prince Christian, on Oct. 15, 2005. As the couple’s firstborn child, he is currently first in line to the Danish throne.
Princess Isabella was born on April 21, 2007. She is now second in line to the Danish throne, behind her older brother.
Frederik and Mary then welcomed twins, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, on Jan. 8, 2011. They are currently third and fourth in line to the throne, respectively, as Vincent was born just minutes earlier than his twin sister.
While having four children certainly keeps King Frederik and Queen Mary busy, they still manage to find time for each other as a couple — even if that time is family time.
“Time becomes more precious when you have children,” Mary told Berlingske Tiende in 2008. “It’s not like you lose each other because you are with the children. It’s just a different way to be together and that’s some of the best part of it all.”
Queen Mary revealed a tarot card reader predicted her royal future
Frederik and Mary’s meeting in a Sydney bar may have been random, but Mary later revealed that a tarot card reader predicted her royal future before she ever set eyes on the King.
Mary was visiting a flea market in Sydney when she saw the soothsayer and decided to give it a try. After pulling her cards, the fortune teller told Mary that she would meet a man from abroad, become famous and move to Europe.
“So I left there and thought, ‘Well yes, that was a lot of fun, but nothing more,’ ” Mary told Jens Andersen (the author of Under the Bar, an authorized biography of King Frederik), according to Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad.
Mary continued, “But I’ve always been interested in the spiritual. In mystery and fate.”
They’ve returned to the Olympics several times
The Olympic games brought Frederik and Mary together, and they’ve returned to the event several times since their initial meeting in 2000.
The Danish royal couple have attended nearly every Olympic Games since their fateful meeting in Sydney. They traveled to Athens in 2004 (just a few months after their wedding), Turin in 2006, Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010, London in 2012, Sochi in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
King Frederik was also inducted into the International Olympic Committee in 2009 and had Olympic hopes of his own when he considered trying out for Denmark’s Olympic sailing team in 1996.
“If I dropped out of everything else I was doing, yes, if I had spent four years training for it, then I could have done it,” he said about his Olympic ambitions. “Instead I plunged into a different life, so no, I don’t regret that.”
They were proclaimed King and Queen of Denmark on Jan. 14, 2024
Queen Margrethe — the longest reigning monarch in Denmark’s history — announced at the end of 2023 that she would be stepping down from the throne after serving over five decades as Queen. As a result, Frederik and Mary were proclaimed King and Queen of Denmark on Jan. 14, which also happened to be the 52nd anniversary of Margrethe's accession.
The news of Queen Margrethe’s abdication announcement came as a shock to Danes, according to The Telegraph, since she had previously indicated she intended to reign for life. She is the first Danish sovereign to abdicate in nearly 900 years, the Danish Royal House said in a statement.
Queen Margrethe wasn't the only one making history with her abdication: Mary is now the first queen consort to have been born in Australia.
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