Crown Prince Frederik: the former party prince who will be Denmark’s next king | Denmark

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  • Post published:December 31, 2023
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A rebellious teen turned climate-conscious family man, Denmark’s future king is the embodiment of the country’s relaxed, liberal monarchy.

Passionate about the environment, Crown Prince Frederik has discreetly imposed himself in the shadow of his hugely popular mother, Queen Margrethe II, championing Denmark and its drive to find solutions to the climate crisis.

“When the time comes, I will guide the ship,” he said in a speech celebrating his mother’s half-century on the throne in 2022.

“I will follow you, as you followed your father” in leading the 1,000-year-old institution, Prince Frederik added. And after his mother’s shock announcement on New Year’s Eve that she intends to abdicate in early 2024, he will soon get his chance.

But this measured assurance is a far cry from his younger self.

“He was not strictly speaking a rebel, but as a child and young man, he was very uncomfortable with the media attention and the knowledge that he was going to be king,” said Gitte Redder, an expert on the Danish royal family.

He only “gained confidence in his mid-20s”, she told AFP.

Frederik resented his parents for neglecting him as they fulfilled their royal obligations. He sought solace in fast cars and fast living, and was considered a spoiled party prince in the early 1990s.

But that view began to change after he graduated from Aarhus University in 1995, the first Danish royal to complete a university education. His time at college included a stint at Harvard in the US, where he was enrolled under the pseudonym Frederik Henriksen.

The fake surname was a nod to his father, the French diplomat Henri de Monpezat who became Prince Consort Henrik when he married Margrethe.

But Frederik – who speaks English, French and German – really began to mature into his role during his time training in the three branches of Denmark’s military.

The prince served in the navy’s Frogman Corps – where he was nicknamed “Pingo” (Penguin) – one of only four of the 300 recruits to pass all of the tests in 1995.

In 2000, he took part in a four-month, 3,500km (2,175-mile) ski expedition across Greenland.

His daredevil side has landed him in hospital after sledging and scooter accidents, but his popularity has soared, boosted by the Royal Run, annual fun runs across Denmark he began in 2018.

“He is a sportsman, he attends concerts and football matches, which makes him even more accessible than his mother,” royal expert Redder said.

“I don’t want to lock myself in a fortress. I want to be myself, a human being,” he once said, insisting he would stick to that even after taking the throne.

He met his wife, Mary Donaldson, an Australian lawyer, in a Sydney bar during the 2000 Olympic Games. They have tried to give their four children as normal an upbringing as possible, sending them mainly to state schools.

The couple, said historian Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, are “modern, woke, lovers of pop music, modern art and sports”. They “do not represent a potential revolution compared with the queen”, but a careful transition adapting to the times, he said.

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