Mary is soon to be the first Australian to become a queen

This is the jewel in the crown for Mary

She made headlines 20 years ago when she went from being a Tasmania-born real estate salesperson to the fiancée of a European prince.

Now the former Mary Donaldson is making history by becoming the first Australian to be a queen. Crown Princess Mary, 51, will become Denmark’s new queen consort when her husband, Crown Prince Frederik, 55, becomes king next week.

Their promotion to the top jobs in the Danish royal family is the result of Queen Margrethe II’s decision to abdicate on January 14. While her announcement on New Year’s Eve that she was stepping down after 52 years on the throne came as a shock to the nation, it seems there were signs beforehand that her heir and his wife were preparing for their new roles.

The couple took a very low-key holiday to New Zealand’s South Island and Australia shortly before Christmas with their children, Prince Christian, 18, Princess Isabella, 16, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, 13, which royals insiders say may have been their last chance to have a normal family getaway before Frederik becomes the monarch. They caught up with family and friends in both countries, and Mary was seen shedding a tear as she farewelled a pal on the tarmac at Queenstown’s airport.

The trip was also regarded as a way of showing Frederik and Mary are very much united, after rumours last year of an alleged affair between Frederik and Mexican socialite Genoveva Casanova, 47. The pair were photographed together on a night out in Madrid in November, but the Danish royals refused to comment, and Mary and Frederik carried on with business as usual. Genoveva has categorically denied the claims.

Then, on Mary’s return to Denmark following her visit Down Under, she posted a somewhat cryptic message on her Mary Foundation website and Instagram page. The letter was mostly about loneliness and the importance of human connection during the festive season, but hinted that something big was to come.

“So much has happened that it is impossible to put it into words,” she wrote on December 20. “We close 2023 soon and go on to Christmas holidays with a gratitude for all that we humans can do when we do it together. We need each other if we are to succeed.”

After 52 years on the throne, Queen Margrethe has handed over the reins to Mary and Frederik.

The first time she was seen in public after the abdication announcement, at the annual New Year’s dinner in Copenhagen, Mary looked more than ready to tackle any challenges. Radiant in a stunning maroon gown, the princess beamed as she arrived for the evening.

Mary is hugely popular in Denmark, despite being a foreigner. She was born in Tasmania to Scottish parents and after stints in advertising, was working as the sales director of a luxury property firm in 2000 when she got chatting to a Danish man in a Sydney pub during the Olympics. She had no idea that Frederik was a prince until later. They began a long-distance relationship that they managed to keep quiet until the end of 2001. They became engaged in October 2003 and married in May the following year.

The elegant Aussie won over the Danish public with her dedication to royal duty, as well as her determination to become fluent in their language. A recent poll found that 85 percent of Danes have a positive opinion of Mary.

However, Queen Margrethe, 83, who became monarch in 1972, will be a tough act for Mary and Frederik to follow. Nicknamed Daisy, Margrethe is 1.8m tall, and is also a talented writer, illustrator, costume designer and linguist.

In her bombshell speech on New Year’s Eve, Margrethe said back surgery in February last year had made her reassess her role, as she could no longer undertake as many duties as in the past, and consider whether “now would be an appropriate time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation”.

Heir to stay!

The abdication of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe has raised questions over whether King Charles III would ever consider stepping down from his job. Royal writer Phil Dampier says it could be an option.

“It must make you wonder if in five or 10 years’ time the King might think about doing the same if his health suffers or he just thinks it’s a good time to pass on to William and Kate while they’re still young.”

For the time being, the King, 75, has no plans to go anywhere because he is relishing the role he was born to do but didn’t get to take on until he was 73.

Several royal insiders say he is pleased to be finally getting on with the job. “He is very happy being king,” says Lady Anne Glenconner, a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

His Majesty certainly looked delighted to chat to well-wishers when he attended church on the Sandringham estate on New Year’s Eve. He was accompanied by Queen Camilla, 76, who has been devoting her time to a new book podcast called The Queen’s Reading Room. In it, she reveals she loves reading to her grandkids – especially the Harry Potter books – yet is “completely hopeless” at doing the voices. “But my husband does it brilliantly,” she says.

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