Princess Marie is on the cover of this week’s issue of Point de Vue Magazine. The French Magazine was received at Amalienborg Palace by the French-born Princess recently.
(With thanks to Nuria Tiburcio for sharing with me the online version of the interview so that I could translate it.)
Interviewer: For several years, Denmark is seen as “the country of happiness”. How do you explain it ?
Marie : There is a lot of reasons. The social model, the education and even the weather! The severity of the climate forces the Danes to be so strong and brave : they won’t be stopped by any storm. The long winters are also why they like to spend so much of their time at home, it is what is famously called Hygge, this joy of staying together , in the family home, and sharing simple joys. We do this a lot too. Being at home, lighting candles everywhere, resting in front of the fireplace, listening to the kids playing inside, reading a good book , what is more pleasant than that ? In general, Danes have a very balanced relationship between their professional lives and personal lives.
I: How does that show?
M: Here, we do not work late at night. My fellow citizens are efficient, they avoid wasting their times and start their day early in the morning. By the way, as French, I used to have latin hours. It took me a lot of adaptation to be fully active by 6 am. But I’m used to it now.. And with the kids , you have to wake up early anyway. Another form of wiseness : the Danes are good at leaving their phones away when they are home. It’s hard. I always want to answer the emails I receive very quickly.
I: But do you have a “danish” daily life ?
M: We have a simple life. The most important thing to me is taking care of my children. They are everything for me and it’s important for me that they are not raised by other people than me and my husband. Of course, we are lucky to have people to help us when we work but it is very important to me to take care of the daily life. If my daughter needs anything, she calls me. The same thing applies to my son. Even if I sometimes tell them I don’t have the time (laughs). We have the same life as our fellow citizens , except that when we work, the press is there.
I: Is this exposition hard to deal with?
M: It really depends of your personality. You have to know that , despite wanting to, you can’t please everyone. I wouldn’t be able to play a role , to not be myself in any ways. That’s how it is. I’m doing my best. Human beings have always been critical, maybe that today with social media you can hear it even more but I know how to concentrate on what is important.
I: If you had to describe the danish spirit in three words..
M: First and foremost, without any hesitation, positive!
I: Just like you then!
M: I can seem very happy but you know, I can also be very French… (laughs). For the two other words , I’d say peaceful and truthful. You can count on the Danes.
I: Your fellow citizens are so honest that you can see in front of shops or restaurant , strollers with babies asleep in them without any parents near them!
M: It’s pretty amazing actually. It shows that Danes feel good, are not afraid, that they trust other people. It is a safe country where the society works harmoniously. It doesn’t mean that this model is exportable everywhere in the world.
I: Is this harmony linked to the fact that your country is small ?
M: The size of the country plays a role in it because the territory is homogeneous. But you also have to take into account our history. We have the oldest monarchy in Europe and we deeply care about our traditions. But the country is also very modern. The education plays a big role too.
I: In what way ?
M: In Denmark, we teach children that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others. The idea is to be happy with who we are , with what we have. This way we avoid jealousy and competition. At school, there are no grades for example until very late in their schooling. Every student is at the same level. The children don’t feel diminished. They don’t doubt themselves. You can always find negative things about this system but I think that it is mostly positive. It’s also positive because children like to learn. My son cries if he can’t go to school! He’s very happy when he goes to school.
I: What are the keys of this joy to learn ?
M: Children’s creativity is very encouraged. We teach them to be themselves. In France, we had backpacks full of big books as soon as we started school. Here, kids start going to school when they’re 6. We think that before 6 , they need to play. I sticked to that idea for one of my children. The other will start school a little before school because we feel like it’s the right time. Every personality is different. Another danish feature : there is less classes each day here. For example, my son starts school at 8 am and is done at 1pm. Then, in the afternoon, they do activities like sport, art, music. My son sometimes goes to the forest to observe animals. They are outside as much as possible and their link to nature is fundamental. Even babies sleep outside a lot.
I: Even when it’s very cold ?
M: We are careful when the temperatures are low of course (laughs). The first time my husband showed me this method, I was…surprised! Even pretty scared but I was convinced pretty quickly. Kids sleep very well apparently…
I: Do you have education principles that come more from your side of the family ?
M: Fundamentals are very important to me. Politeness of course , good manners too.. For example, children shouldn’t interrupt adults when they are talking. They have to look at whoever they are saying hello to. I’m very strict about this and I think it doesn’t prevent the children to be and feel free, to have fun and to feel loved. Respecting adults is very important. You have to be able to live together. There are moments for adults and moments for children.
I:Your father-in-law is French, would you say that your husband is fully Danish though ?
M: He is just like his mother, he is very creative just like her. He is very good in artistic fields even if not a lot of people know that. From his father , he took elegance, a huge culture and he is very lively. He is ultra positive and equanimous. I have never seen him in a bad mood! He always see the good side of everything. He is a perfect Dane but he is still open to the world , he married a foreigner after all!
I:What about your children ?
M: They are a mix of us both. They have a little of my spirit of freedom. They have amazing personalities and are very curious!
I: Since simple pleasures are valued in Denmark, could you tell us what your simple pleasures are ?
M: When I go get my kids from school. I’ll never get tired of it. Being with my husband just before dinner. Drinking wine together , talking about our day. Our big walks in the nature too! I can walk for hours. As soon as I can, I go walking. I hate running though!
I: Is there a Danish saying that you think is very true ?
M: “Speech is silver, Silent is golden” (i.e it’s better to listen than to talk). It also exists in French but I think it suits the danish way of living quite well. My fellow citizens don’t talk a lot about themselves. They know how to listen, which can make them a little shy sometimes. I love this ability of always taking interest into others.
I: Is there any cliché about Denmark that makes you angry?
M: Do you have an example ?
I: That Denmark is a country of Vikings ?
M: That’s also true. My husband is never sick. He never goes to the doctor. He’s very strong. He is a Viking! They have very good genes!
I: That every Danes bike ?
M: It’s true! Even the Ministers! You can even see very sophisticated women , in high heels, fighting wind and rain , or mothers biking to drop their kids to school. I do that too, I’m totally used to it now : I take my son, my daughter and even my dog! Everyone comes…
I: Your dog has to be small then
M: It is. She is a Bichon Frisé. Her name is Apple. I had her before coming to Denmark.
I: How old is she?
M: She’s 12 and she has the obligation to stay alive! I want her to be with us as long as possible.
I: Did certain things surprised you when you arrived in Denmark?
M: People swimming in winter! Apparently, it creates a real sense of exhilaration. I’m going to try because I’m very curious and I don’t want to die without knowing..
I: There is another important aspect of a culture : gastronomy
M: Nordic and Danish cooking are very popular and well-known right now. Tourists from all over the world come to Denmark to discover this cooking based on the naturalness of products, the importance of organic food, the creativity. I’m Patron of the Copenhagen Food & Cooking Festival , which is a great joy for me because I love food! This engagement is linked to another mission that I care about : fighting against food waste. Denmark is a pioneer in this fight. We take more initiatives on this theme than any European countries.
I: Could you give us a traditional meal that you really like ? M: I like cooking a lot and one of my favorite meals is “crispy pork”. We eat this kind of like we eat crisps. You can eat it everywhere in the country but it is not very “dietetic”. The other thing I find delicious is rye bread, there are around two hundred different kinds here. We don’t have white bread here. I also cook French meals of course..
I: If you had to guide our readers through your country, where would you start ?
M: When friends visit us, I love showing them the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Louisiana Museum just outside Copenhagen, but also the small galeries in town. The Opera is worth seeing and the ballets at the Royal Theatre as well : it’s a must! The beautiful castles truly are the historic identity of our country. And what could be more pleasant than a walk on the beautiful bridge Nyhavn with an obligatory stop to Tivoli for the children… and the parents! Another thing that fascinates me is design which is becoming one of our brands. It started in the 1950s and since then , this purified and ultra-modern trend hasn’t stopped developing.
I: Could you tell us about some of those designs ?
M: A visit to Ilumsbolighus will give you an idea of the Danish style. Every generation can find something they like there. There are classics like the porcelain of Royal Copenhagen, the furnitures of Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl or Fritz Hansen, the silverware and jewelry of Georg Jensen… You will also find there the creations of new brands like Hay, very young and creative, Normann Copenhagen or Muuto. The architecture is very dynamic too. Today we are lucky to witness the success of the young architect Bjarke Ingels. He is 42 and he creates extraordinary places all around the world. He was selected to built the second tower of the World Trade Center and the Google Campus in California. In Copenhagen, he will build a waste incinerator and its roof will be… a ski area! In France, he is supervising the Europacity project, near Roissy.
I: Even if the country of happiness, there has to be things that need improvement. Could you tell me about the causes you defend and work for ?
M: Wherever we are, we have to pay attention and care about the most vulnerable ones. I try to take care as much as possible of the people with disabilities , autistic children and epileptic persons for example. I also work with the AIDS Foundation. These moments are important for me. I deeply love spending time with these persons and I am proud to live in a country that take care of its people.
For the new photos, Princess Marie wore a new Tara Jarmon white blouse and a black skirt with her Sergio Rossi black ankle boots. She also wore her old Emporio Armani pink coat for the photo outside of the Palace.
She also wore her Christine Hvelplund earrings and custom made ‘H’ & ‘A’ necklace.