This week, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie are on the cover of Graensen Magazine! The interview was made on May 5th, during the family’s stay at Schakenborg Castle to celebrate Prince Henrik’s eighth birthday.
Here is the translation I made of this interview:
“The split flag with the royal crown in the middle is waving in the wind, so nobody driving through Slotsgaden in Mogeltonder with the idyllic thatched houses can have a doubt : Prince Joachim and Princess Marie are staying at Schackenborg castle.
They are there because Prince Henrik, the son of the couple, celebrated his eighth birthday the day before and it is his wish to celebrate his birthday on May 4th at Schackenborg Castle every year if possible. May 4th is also Liberation Day in Denmark and you can also see the traditional lights in the castle at night. “And he loves that” said Princess Marie , once she and Prince Joachim as well as Graensen Magazine were settled in the “Sommerstuen” (Summer Room) in the main wing facing south and were drinking tea. It is nice and warm here in the sofa while there is a spring cold wind blowing outside through the castle park’s rhododendron and magnolia trees that have grown since the couple and their children – Princess Athena (5) and Prince Henrik (8) but also Joachim’s eldest sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix – last stayed here.
Schackenborg Castle , which Joachim was given when he was nine years old in 1978, is not the family’s permanent residence. This summer , it will be three years since Prince Joachim decided to leave farm life and assigned Schackenborg Castle and its land to a newly established fund , Schackenborg Foundation, and moved with his family to a villa in Klampenborg in Copenhagen.
The move had been widely reported in the media and has been interpreted as a departure from the royal family’s long-standing connection to Jutland and as an escape for the benefit of a confortable life in the big city. Prince Joachim has said earlier this year in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he disagree with many things that was said or written at the time.
Graensen Magazine came to Schackenborg Castle to ask Prince Joachim, who is Patron of Graenseforeningen, and Princess Marie about their decision to leave Schackenborg and their relationship with Schackenborg , Jutland and the border region as a whole today, but also about being a modern family who feel at home in more than just one place and has its roots in several cultures.
Interviewer: Prince Joachim, how are you feeling today about the decision you made in 2014? Joachim: It was inevitable and necessary. We tried for a long time to combine official duties with farmer work here at Schackenborg. It was very difficult if not impossible to get up. There came the toughest part: The economy. There were debts when I was given the Castle and the debt continued to weigh in. Everything that we earned went to debt reduction. In addition to this, a large slot requires a lot of maintenance, and it makes a big garden too. So in fact there was nothing left. I would not let such a large mortgage move on to my children, giving them an unfair start in life. It was not a popular decision and it was difficult for us. It took many years of serious thought. But now we sit here today. We enjoy being at Schackenborg, and we will gladly and often. “
I :How would you describe your attachment to Schackenborg and Jutland today?
Marie: We feel very strongly attached to them. We are at home in Møgeltønder and Jutland. It is clear that the Prince feel attached to them, because he has lived here at Schackenborg for more than 20 years. But I do also. We got married in Møgeltønder church in 2008, and the party was held here at the castle. Our children have been born while we lived here. The first word, our son, Prince Henrik, said when he was about a year old was “Mojn” (it’s how “hello” is said in Southern Jutland). Us moving from here had nothing to do with our love for the place. We also have our good and close friends here, we look forward to seeing when we are here.
J: I know every corner here, Jutland became part of my DNA over the years. It means a lot to me that we as a family can come here. When I was young I dedicated myself in many different ways to Southern Jutland, including through patronages. I attach great importance to continue. I had the pleasure of being at the festival when the UN Museum in Frøslevlejren celebrated its 25th anniversary as the world’s first UN Museum on May 2 this year. When the UN museum opened in 1992, I was actually also there. That kind of gives continuity – also in my life. When Schackenborg Fund was established, it was decided that the Royal House flag should be flying when we are here. It is something we are very aware of, especially here in Møgeltønder.
I: The criticism of your decision to move from Schackenborg Castle to Copenhagen is close to the general debate on the challenges faced by rural and remote areas in Denmark face. It talks about “Peripheral Denmark”. How do you evaluate this whole debate?
J: I personally can not stand the term. I think actually, it is misleading. Nearly a quarter of the population lives in Copenhagen, and they will often have a perception that everything that is outside of Valby Hill is the outskirts. But this is of course not. On the contrary, there may be much more viable initiatives, when you get away from the capital’s magnetic field.
I: The importance of a close contact between the royal family and Jutland has been stressed many times. Why is the contact between the royal family and Jutland something special?
J: Since 1935 when my grandparents (Queen Ingrid and King Frederik IX, ed.) took summer stay at Gråsten Palace, there has been a close bond. One would show Jutland that they belonged after reunification in 1920. But, obviously it meant that the rest of Denmark was not being visited. The royal family comes around the country. But it is clear that for historical reasons, there is a special bond between the royal family and Jutland, and it marked among other things, by the fact that we come here often.
I: It’s about five kilometers from the border between Denmark and Germany here from Schackenborg. Do you think of this proximity with the Danish-German border?
M: I actually never lived so close to a national border before. You meet many people who speak German when one for example is in barrels, but it is included so naturally in the daily life, because most speak both Danish and German.
J: No, you do not think about it. The border is part of a kind of bi-national symbiosis. It is an area where the cultural frontier has long since been blurred. The border and the good conditions prevailing for the German minority in Denmark and the Danish minority at the south of the border is an example to follow in other border regions in Europe, which perhaps are at peace, but still have unsolved problems. It is obvious that the minority organization FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities) has its headquarters just the place in Europe (i.e in Flensbourg, Germany , at the Danish-German border) where you can say: Try to see. That’s the way to do it. Here in the German-Danish border has managed to live with two cultures and two languages, without causing difficulties. On the contrary, minorities live well, and majorities and minorities also live well with each other.
I: Princess Marie, you were born and raised in France and now has Danish citizenship. How have you experienced having to get used to living with two cultures and two languages, French and Danish?
M: I went to boarding school in Switzerland, and when I was 17, I moved to the United States. I was supposed to stay four months to learn the language, but ended up being there for seven years. I have lived abroad for so many years, so for me it is quite natural to learn a new language and get used to a new culture. However, I must say that I have found it difficult to learn Danish. It is a difficult language! I love my French family, and I love France, I come from the French culture is very strong, and I am bound to it. But I do not think I could have been living in France and have married a Frenchman!
J: I am very happy to hear that! I think that it is precisely your curiosity and desire to learn new things that make you strong.
M: I do not know. I just think that it has become part of my personality to seek out new things to learn.
I: How are you doing to pass on both languages and cultures to your children?
M: It is a very important issue for those who have to deal with it. We insist to teach our children both cultures. I try to speak French with the children. When Henrik was born, it was the only way, because then I could not speak Danish. It began to be a challenge, especially since we got Athena in 2013, at that time I could speak Danish. Children are clever. They sense that they are not forced to speak French to be able to talk to their mother. But do not give up. Because it is a huge gift to learn to speak several languages when you are a child. And it’s important for me that the children know their own culture and identity. Even if they say, “No, Mom, we are in Denmark. We are Danes”. I may just reply “Yes, honey. You are Danish, but you are also French. You are both, and that’s good. “
J: I grew up with two cultures too, French and Danish. So for me it is natural that the children grow up and identify with both languages and both cultures.
I: Today, there are tensions between people who have different languages, cultures and religions around the world. Do you have, with your experience as a “multicultural” family, any advice about how to live in peaceful coexistence with cultures other than one’s own?
M: I think you have to try to be open-minded. You must accept and respect differences. This is true in marriage but also with your neighbors. I think it is very much about education and training. You can learn to be curious. I personally have been fortunate enough to attend an international school, and it promotes the curiosity because the others were different than I was. But it is also important to remember that not all people have the same experience. I do not think that we’re going to be all about staging their curiosity towards others.
J: I think you are very right that it is about upbringing. If one is raised to absorb the impressions from the outside world, it is natural for one to face the world with openness instead of being self-indulgent. The world is global, and it will remain that way, although right now there is a trend that people are looking back to their national starting points. But it is a movement. Then it goes a little forward. Then it goes back a little. Globalization is here to stay, I think. We must try to get to work and regard is as an enrichment. But we also need a starting point. Everyone must ask themselves: Where did I come from? What are my roots? When you have it in place, one can also better be open to others.
I: Princess Marie, you say that you consider France as your homeland, and now you live here in Denmark with your family. Can one find his roots in different places ?
M: I would hope so, because I have! When people ask me: Don’t you miss France? I’ll just answer that I do not, because I feel good here. But I still have France in my heart. I moved to Denmark as a 31-year-old, and it is clear that many things have stuck in your mind at that point in life. But I think it is a process. When my French family is visiting, they say sometimes that I am very Danish now.
I: Monarchy is often highlighted as a unifying symbol for all Danes. How do you see the royal family’s role in being a unifying symbol also for new Danes?
J: When you come from another country and have had its roots there, it is only natural that the royal family is not your first concern. But after a generation or two, they will naturally identify with what is Danish. So they also have their roots in Denmark. And that also includes the royal family. That is how we want it to be and how we hope it will be. Monarchy is one of the constants found in Danish society, and the royal family is not restrictive. It is for all Danish citizens. “
I: Since 2015, there have been border control at the Danish-German border and elsewhere in Europe due to the fear of terrorism and refugee flows. What do you think about the situation in Europe these past few years?
J: Europe experienced peace from 1945 to 1990 (when the war in the former Yugoslavia broke out, ed.). In some places in Europe, especially east of the Iron Curtain, peace was maintained with an iron hand. But in the west, we got both peace and freedom since 1945. It is a fact that it is the longest period in the history of Europe, where there has been no war in one or more places in Europe. Now it begins to show signs of friction and dissatisfaction all around. It makes sense to reflect on that. After the Wall fell in 1989, there was a feeling that now peace was sealed and guaranteed. One must just find that peace should never be taken for granted. We have been lucky in our generation that we have been able to live in peace and freedom, and we must just hope that it can continue.
M: Generations before us have worked hard for peach and so we could live together in Europe. European cooperation remains important. In France , we celebrate Liberation Day on May 8, and it is a great event. The big cities in France were so devastated, and people have been so affected by World War II. It is in the genes of several generations. I hope it’s not going to happen again. “
J: Just the lights at the windows on May 4 at home help to keep the memory of the time. Although by now there are not so many of those who have lived during those dark years left , we must continue to put lights at our windows. Partly to honor those who fell. Partly to remind ourselves that the freedom that they did not have, we have. And that is a responsibility that comes with freedom.
I: In 2020, the 100th anniversary of Reunification (of South Jutland to Denmark) will be celebrated. Back then, King Christian X, your great-grandfather, rode across the border on his white horse, and brought a copy of the Golden Horns, one of the largest national treasures that were found in the village Gallehus here, near Schackenborg Castle in 1639 and 1734 . What do you think about the importance of national days and memorial days ?
J: I am very interested in history, and I find these national days of the utmost importance. It is also clear that national days of remembrance are more important in a border region than elsewhere. I remember very clearly the day in 2009 when Isted Lion was moved back to its original place in Flensburg Old Cemetery. It was very poignant. The sculpture of the seated lion was originally produced to commemorate the Battle of Isted Moor in 1850, when the Danish army fought against Schleswig-Holstein rebel army. Isted Lion was for many years hidden in the place which is now called Søren Kierkegaards Square in Copenhagen. Today, Isted Lion is in Flensburg Old Cemetery, which is a grave for many of the fallen from the battle. It stands as a symbol of friendship between Denmark and Germany and cross-border cooperation. Now that the story finally became so sufficiently processed, it can be done. I hope that the celebration in 2020 could be done with the same symbol. “
For these new photos, Marie wore a new top and a new jacket and they are UFO so far.