Prince Joachim gave a big interview to Billed-Bladet for his 50th birthday talking about his family, his work, his birthday and their future move to Paris this summer. Read my full translation below.
Prince Joachim invites us inside
It is far from every day that Billed-Bladet is allowed to go in through the heavy gates to Amalienborg. The gates are guarded by young guardians, and although in Denmark we pride ourselves on the fact that the royal family is right there, the four mansions still have impermanence.
But this day is a different one. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, Prince Joachim has invited us into his office. We have asked for a birthday interview, and even though we have gone through the gate of Christian VIII’s Palace before, it is always something special when there is time for immersion as for a longer interview.
Behind the palace is a beautiful garden. The lawn stands straight. Here, royalty has played football for centuries – perhaps croquet- driven their first ride by bicycle and perhaps got their first royal mark when they are overturned. There are leaves on the well-groomed trees, and in exactly one month all Denmark will be in full bloom. Just like 50 years ago, when Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik welcomed their second son. He was named Joachim Holger Waldmar Christian and followed right in the heels of his brother, Frederik, who had seen the light of day a little over a year earlier.
The two brothers grew up as pseudo-twins. They went to the same school and dressed in their clothes. Numerous historical photographs show in many ways an ordinary family with a completely unusual life. Already in childhood in the 1970s, Prince Joachim’s brain drove in the highest gear.
His now well-known retentive memory was under development, and therefore it is not so surprising that he can easily remember when it really happened to him that he was and is a member of a very special family.
Well enough, I imagine that I remember my grandfather’s funeral. But I can’t put two lines down. I was only two and a half years old and can hardly remember Roskilde Cathedral very clearly. But in the summer of 1972, when I was just over three years old, we were on a summer trip with Dannebrog. I remember quite a lot of that. At least for a young child, it is different.
The Prince has given us seats in a reception room with older furniture and copper connectors on the walls. The room is located in close proximity to his and Princess Marie’s office and stands in striking contrast to the couple’s work rooms, where new desks and modern furnishings are forthcoming.
A special upbringing
“But small children adapt. So it was just that. Sometimes we had to stand in our stiffest plaster and look smiling and not let ourselves be challenged by the nose running. We were supposed to do as our parents had said … without necessarily having understood the deeper meaning of it. Play dates with buddies cross and birthday parties in one away. But it is clear that the first time we had a friend home either at Amalienborg or Fredensborg, it was … ‘wauw’. For us it was just playing. Pedal go-karts down the corridors. A home is a home. It has nothing to do with decorations or size. We also had friends and acquaintances in the Greater Copenhagen, who lived in everything from modest apartments to houses with large gardens. Children are children, and playing is playing. And house rules are house rules, regardless of the place” the prince emphasizes and breaks out shortly into a big laugh.
Prince Joachim and Crown Prince Frederik’s childhood was undoubtedly a lot different than in other families. The two brothers were mostly surrounded by nannies, and the meals were usually taken with the employees and only later in the company of the parents.
About being Number 2 :
“I have lived that role for as long as I can remember … probably about 47 years. And pseudo-twins or not, my parents – and my father very clearly – made sure to say: “There is in your upbringing and your brotherhood a thing that stands firm. It is just as important for you both to know. There is one who must be first, and there is one that has to stand by. ” And I’m fine with the role that gives more and more freedom. It is in the room that I must act in a similar way to my children. Many use columns space to write that my children are number seven, eight, nine and 10. Yes … if you really stand up and pull threads. But let’s just be realists. The royal family has reached a point where I am going to concentrate more on my core. It is another core that sits in the tribe itself, on which I am just a branch. And that’s fine. So let me do it.
Many have been busy describing our relationship. The branch that I make up, and which my children make up, is the branch I must concentrate on and which I must spend my energy on. It is my life-work.”
The five of them are my everything
The Prince gives us a cup of coffee before we throw ourselves over the background of our conversation; the next birthday. Half a century. In the midst of life. “It’s the good coffee down from Jebsen”, says the prince.
The comment refers to a trip to Tanzania, which he attended some years ago. On that trip, the prince visited, among other things, the coffee farm Shangri-La, which is owned by the Danish Christian Jebsen, and here the entire travel company visited coffee fields and smelled for the newly-formed prayers. And when dusk fell on, three elephants appeared in a clearing to drink from a tiny watering hole. Good memories of a trip with a committed and extremely present prince.
“Being 50 years old is diffusely present and yet distant. After all, I am well aware that every day that passes, I come closer one day. The sun may hardly stand up in any other way exactly that day, says the prince. He does not think that the coming round birthday will be much different from other round birthdays, and the day is far from scary. It’s not a threat picture with thunderstorms and dark clouds it pulls up. I think I have complete control over the transition, the sharp corner or what you want to call a 50th birthday. It is not something I have given greater thought to so. I think if I look back on other round birthdays, it doesn’t seem more scary or threatening than a 40th birthday did.
says Prince Joachim, who on the day of June 7, will be surrounded by family and friends.
The Prince’s mother, the Queen, has long since sent out the dinner invitations. A form that suits Prince Joachim well.
I want to be celebrated with my close circle. Together with family and friends. Those with whom I have shared experiences. Good and bad. Funny and serious. And there is a big likelihood that most people know each other. But there will also be some who will meet new ones. And it is also wonderful to be the one whose birthday can bring people together.
My family is always with me
The prince will also consider his birthday party as a celebration of the closest family.
“I would not be here today and would not have been who I am today if it was not for my wife and children. It’s as safe as amen in the church. Therefore, I would also like it to be a celebration of them. The five are my everything and will always be. It is a great happiness to have so many children in a great age range. There is the young man who soon turns 20. One that is almost finished with childhood. One who is in the middle of it, and then the little cheeky one who is allowed to do it all … And as I say stubbornly, who can not cheat me. But she still ends up having me wrapped around her little finger.”
Prince Joachim smiles at the thought of ‘the little cheeky’ Princess Athena. Billed-Bladet asks: Do you occasionally feel like you have failed as a father?
My family is always with me. I’m not the best at calling home when I’m traveling, but they’re always with me, and I also hope they feel that even though I’m not with them, I’m still there. I hope they all feel I have been there for them as much as I could and under the circumstances. But also that I am there now. That the freedoms and the guidance they receive is neither overcompensating nor too strict. (Prince Joachim smiles.) They may feel like I’m strict, without being hidebound or impossible.
Prince Joachim has good support from his wife, who herself has had a French upbringing. Therefore, there is also great agreement between Prince Joachim and Princess Marie on the upbringing of the children.
We agree a lot. Somewhere between 90 and 99 percent. And then we have some pet peeves that we hold a little more firmly in. There may well be some variation. We have a common way of doing it. But we also have an individual way of expressing it. It should not be changed. Because then it would be artificial.
And, as in all other families, the evening hours can often cause problems when there are more children in the family, and for the prince and princess (Henrik and Athena, ed.) this is no exception.
Everything from waking up to making the bed. We do this differently. Because there we each have our way. The children know very well that there is a difference when Dad does it, and when Mom does it. With Dad, you ask for permission to sleep (laughs)
Prince Joachim welcomes the close relationship his four children have to each other.
It’s one thing we enjoy. That they have those close ties among themselves. We have always raised them to be just siblings. There are not half siblings here. Therefore, the little ones and the big ones are fully aware of how they are connected. And who has the babysitter service every now and then. The big ones are sometimes a great match for the little ones. And they do well and with pleasure. And it is always a success with the little ones.
Prince Joachim explains that the children must also learn how to keep the house and that there is a difference between everyday and weekend.
That’s the way it is. They each have an age where there are chores and expectations. And fortunately we don’t have to tell them. It comes naturally.
I should have listened to Marie
Prince Joachim has the rank of Colonel in the Army, and both he and his big brother, the Crown Prince, have loved much of their military career. Therefore, it also came to be the most natural thing in the world, when it emerged in the summer of 2018 that Prince Nikolai would continue the family’s proud military traditions as a sergeant in the Varde Barracks.
But as you know, it went differently. After a few nights in the 12-bed room, Prince Nikolai threw the camouflage-colored towel in the ring, and Prince Joachim had to acknowledge that his son had grown up and was independent.
Princess Marie had previously asked me if I was absolutely sure that it was a good idea for him. “Are you sure he is that type?” I just knocked out my arms and said, “Of course he is.” But I had done that without checking. And as the doubts arose, the strategy had to be changed. And then we had to talk. He should both have a talk with ‘the old colonel’ and ‘the young father’. But also with ‘the old father’ and ‘the young colonel’. In fact, it was probably me who was supposed to talk to him, more than he who was supposed to talk to me.
The Prince had to reflect on his son’s decision and he acknowledges that he should have listened to Princess Marie:
I should take it and not see it as a failure for him or for me or anyone. We live in another time. Here was a situation where it did not make sense for him to continue. When that is the case, and now that I have overpaced, there must not be a clock for him. But neither should it be made into a bad story. Therefore, we had to turn the bin and see it in another way. It was also a fantastic adult decision. In retrospect, I should have listened to Princess Marie.
Billed-Bladet asks: But it is probably a lesson that you take with you. I mean, three more children to come? (Prince Joachim says “two at least!” and Billed-Bladet asks if Princess Athena might want to be in the military too)
Arhhhh …. yes, as she is right now, it might well be! (laughs). But the whole story taught me to override our own norms and expectations. Look at yourself first, take it easy and don’t be so hidebound. Rather use your own age to look at things mildly. The perfect human in the perfect world does not exist. This was a lesson about life for me. And for him too!
Prince Joachim has supported his son all the way when it comes to the model career when it really took off last year.
I’m very, very proud. I am so very proud of him. He is the first in a modern age and must both create his own career and manage himself. Knowing that there is a closeness he cannot run away from. What I told him about the model career was: “Try it. And then you learn to make money yourself. Not only that but you also get to know the world. I advised him to keep himself exclusive. Because if he strives for the top then no one should say he was cheap for sale. The great thing is to maintain exclusivity. That, and I stand by it, was my advice to him.
Prince Joachim hopes to see his son on the catwalk if he is going to fashion show in Paris.
Joachim to seek advice from others
I got a lot of advice from my father. It got to the whole family. But as you get older, you also stand on your own feet and become more the one who prevails and suggests. I probably have that role more now.
I miss the country life
The summer of 2014 was, in many ways, a landmark for Prince Joachim and his close family. On July 1, the royal house announced that Schackenborg Castle would move to a fund, and that the prince and his family would move from Møgeltonder. A tough blow for the inhabitants, but also for the prince, who since the acquisition had tried to make the castle a profitable business. Asking Prince Joachim if he misses life as a farmer, it triggers a deep breath and a long sigh.
I don’t know if I can say I miss life as a farmer. It was not easy, and I never got into a higher and sustainable unit. But I miss the country life. The great sky. I also miss Southern Jutland. But thankfully the country is no bigger, and my duties are after all also so frequent that I come to South Jutland from time and time. We were there for as Prince Henrik’s birthday. He loves celebrating his birthday down there so much. So we did it this year too.
Prince Joachim’s family has always had a close connection with the area and its inhabitants and he says a resounding yes to the question of whether the sale of Schackenborg has been one of the prince’s low times.
We still have the bond and the connection. We are there often, and we are happy, and it is something that all the children love. It was definitely a failure not to be able to carry it any longer than it was. Because it was something I had set myself to do in the years when I quietly and happily got used to the idea of having to live there. One always becomes wiser when one can see it all in hindsight. You can analyze everything through. What could you have done? What did you do wrong? But it did not work, and it is no use crying over spilled milk. (looks out the window.) You are put to the test all your life. You always learn. Then you have reached a good distance yourself. This does not mean that there are no challenges of a different nature. I have had failures, and they have also been richly described. But I have progressed and become wiser. I have reflected on the reasons why.
Now it’s five years since we left Schackenborg. But I do not pass a field without seeing how the crops stand. And I also ask the children if they can see what is growing here and there. It is also part of my past.
The Prince has often been able to see himself on front pages – often without being able to respond.
Reality is often different from the one described. So it’s a question of going in with the knowledge I have and saying what is justified criticism and what is just a stud in the fog … pure lie. But if I feel hit, then there is probably something about it, and in those cases, I have personally reflected on the criticism that is justified. And then I do not fill up with excuses, but recognize that I too am wrong.
My wife is a great source of inspiration
For all people, to go on in life, and here it is important with a good family, and time and time again during our interview, Prince Joachim highlights his wife, Princess Marie, as the one who manages to give him renewed energy.
My wife is a great source of inspiration. Throughout her approach to what she does. Everything from the domestic life to her public acts. Simply. She does different things every day and she’s dynamic. From the beginning, it has been an eye-opener for me and a huge source of inspiration. I can feel that I can also live through her. She can do so much and does so much in a way I wish I could, and I can only try to follow her lead. She is a free being, inspiring, and there will never be dust on her. She is too dynamic for her to collect dust. Whereas I might be … and …. it’s dusty. [probably in the sense that he is less dynamic, ed.] I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.
The Prince also says that he is looking forward to another chapter in their common book. The imminent journey to Paris. A project and an opportunity that would never have been possible without the support of his family.
The education that I must take is only in France, and it is not one that you are looking for, but one that you are designated for. And if it could only be taken in the southern part of Patagonia, it would be inspiring to be able to travel there with her.
He is looking forward to returning to a culture that he and the princess know very well. And he also looks forward to showing Paris to his children for a longer period. And the princess was very easy to convince:
We had to look at what it meant. After all, it’s a change for us all. And the biggest thing is the kids. New home, new school, new school system. But fortunately, children are chameleons, and it will be incredibly rewarding for them. On the other hand, I come just as pale to it as I come from there. Because there won’t be much sunlight for me [because he’ll be in school every day]. It is definitely not the intention of Princess Marie to be a housewife. Not one bit. There will of course be a running-in period, and then she must also be able to enjoy Paris. She must be able to play at all keys. And she can, because it lies in her. It becomes a chapter in our lives. For the nuclear family and individually and for the children, a slightly larger chapter.
Prince Joachim is well aware that many ask the question whether the family is returning home to Denmark at all:
I do not think we leave Denmark in any way. I am Danish, and in the 11 years that the Marie has been in Denmark, she has also become attached to Denmark. One year’s opportunities for her and one year’s schooling for the kids. That is our starting point. That’s where our focus is now. Now the year has to start. With the challenges that it will bring, and with the opportunities that come from it.
Prince Joachim looks forward to creating a new everyday life for his children and about their reactions to the news of their move to Paris, he said:
The children took it differently. Because they are different. One immediately saw the benefit of living in Paris, while the other needed more reassurance. But this is going to be great for all of us, and now both children are completely okay with it.
But before they can settle in Paris, it’s time to celebrate Prince Joachim. This Monday, among other things, it happened with a concert at Sølyst, where the Prince was in the company of family and friends. And Friday, the Prince’s mother, the Sueen, is hosting a dinner at Amalienborg.
Yes …. I have now become so much older … read “clever” (he laughs). And even though I am neither gray-haired nor with a long beard, I now feel that I can talk about what we- as humans- are giving to the next generations. I’m probably not starting to think of grandchildren yet. But when that happens, we’ll turn another page into the book!
Here are some more quotes from Prince Joachim that were not part of the article in itself but that were captions of the photos used in the article:
I like a lot of fresh air and like to go for long walks at a fast pace.So I get my exercise, but in a slightly alternative way. I feel with great satisfaction that there is much more focus on exercise as a whole and not just exercise as sport
All four children are different. Therefore, one version may not necessarily be transferred to the other. There are times when I would be stuck like a rock. And then there is sometimes the possibility of negotiation. Other times no negotiation. That’s how it works.
I do not know if I, as a 50-year-old, have become wiser, but I have certainly become more reflective
Prince Nikolai has, in principle, moved from the nest and is now visiting more. But there is always a bed ready if the oldest comes. The elders must feel that they are not guests here. Here they are at home, and then there are some house rules that apply and that you participate in.
I dare so much more today because of Princess Marie. She gives me inspiration and she emboldens me
Last year we celebrated Henrik’s birthday in Paris. He wanted that. And instead of going to amusement parks, he wanted to see monuments. So we saw Notre Dame both inside and out. So when we saw the disaster at Easter he said ‘It is fortunate that we saw it last year .’ That, I think, was touchingly reflective.