On January 2nd, Danish newspaper Berlingske released a new interview with Prince Joachim and Princess Marie. Read more below.
About his work in Paris, Prince Joachim said: “The short version is that I am the link and liaison between our respective defense ministries and defense commands. Thus, I come down to the French Ministry of Defense about once a week, where I am both briefed and hand over briefings. Of course, there is also interest in how we do things in Denmark. Similarly, it takes place in the French Defense Command. And then there is all the outreach work you have to do. “
About maintaining contact with their Danish patronages during the pandemic, Princess Marie said “It has been challenging to meet because of coronavirus but then we have all learned a new way of meeting. With Zoom and Teams. We have been able to keep in close contact with our patronages in this way, just as we have of course been able to send video greetings if there is an important event. We try to be as good as we can. “ Princess Marie also travels to Denmark on a regular basis and she tries to fit as many events as possible during her stay there. This is less possible for Prince Joachim who has a full-time job in France now so his focus is on the Danish interests in France at the moment.
Princess Marie also now has a new role in France as she became a Special Representative at the Culture department of the Danish Embassy in Paris. About her new role, she says: “It is completely new. But it is a role that makes sense to me. I must help to strengthen the cultural relations between Denmark and France. This means that I, together with a team at the embassy, must seek out new Danish and French partnerships within the world of culture. “
Princess Marie also touched on future projects: “Everything that has been planned for the last two years has stood still [because of the pandemic], so now we need it to flourish again. Right now we are sitting in here in the House of Denmark, which has always been a very important and well-known place for Danish art, in the middle of Paris. That profile must be developed even sharper in relation to contemporary art in the coming years.”
Berlingske notes that the Danish Embassy is planning a large number of cultural projects ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Princess Marie says she want to be involved in the development of those projects: “Of course, I also have to be more traditional in helping to open doors, open exhibitions and so on. But I would also like to be part of the process, because it is more interesting. For my part, I like to be completely involved in the projects I deal with.”
Prince Joachim said that his work is a new side of his mission to represent the royal family as he is now sent out abroad which the couple considers to still be royal representation. Prince Joachim also further explained his remarks from last year about his role as the spare. He said: “Most of us, no matter what fate we have, can expect in our part of the world that we can more or less do what we want. We are not forced to do as our parents do. It gives a breadth and a height in our lives. But if you are from a royal family, it is somewhat more framed. This is one of the things I have emphasized to the elders of my sons: You are free to do as you please, as long as you behave properly. I have far greater freedom than the Crown Prince to do what I want, but at the same time I am limited in my unfoldment. It was just in that context that I said it.”
About their new roles, Prince Joachim said he has the defense area and Princess Marie has the culture area but “It is still a role in the Royal House that we perform. And it is a pleasure to be able to do something for Denmark in a different way. This is our contribution to the Royal House, to the family, for that matter. Nowhere is it written how our work should be individually and together. This is our way of doing it, our way of making things flourish. It’s a joy to be able to do that. It’s exciting to be in. It’s rewarding. And hopefully one will also think, long after we are no longer here, that it worked.”
Princess Marie added: “It is important that the Royal House also finds other ways of working. For the world is global today, and we must represent Denmark, also abroad. If we can use our role to promote Danish interests abroad, I think that is excellent. The royal family is still present in Denmark.” The couple added that they don’t know yet what their plans are once Prince Joachim’s three years at this job will be over.
The couple said that moving to Paris was difficult for Prince Henrik and Princess Athena at first, especially when it came to school as France and Denmark have very different school systems. But it seems they have fully adapted now as Princess Marie said: “Now we speak a mixture of French and Danish at home, and where before, when we lived in Denmark, I could not get them to speak French with me at all, it is no longer a problem.” Princess Marie insisted of still speaking Danish at home so she would not lose her ability to speak the language.
Asked about the differences between French people and Danish people, Princess Marie said: “Obviously, it is difficult to compare the character in two countries that are so different. Denmark is a small country with a more homogeneous culture. In France, there is a wealth of different cultures. And the country has a completely different history. But the Danes are, just as you are – I became so after a few years – confident, patient, calm. And we are not least seeking consensus. Agreeing on things is very important for the Danes. And it’s actually nice.”
She also said: “The French are much more rebellious and they like to stand out on the individual level. The Danes also have the quality that they are very supportive. Just as one completely agrees to gather a lot around some particular traditions. It is great that we are different, but fortunately there are also many similarities between the two peoples. For example, we have the same humor. We both have a great enthusiasm for food. And I also feel a great interest in art and culture in both countries”
When asked about whether or not it’s a disadvantage to always agree on everything, Princess Marie says she sees it as an advantage since Denmark is working excellently. But she admits she tells her husband to speak for himself, say no when necessary, and to say what he actually thinks: “Life is too short for that. It must be remembered. And it takes a long time if you have to constantly guess what the other person thinks.”
Princess Marie was also asked about what it means for her to be authentic in her role. She said she can be no other than herself and “You have to remember not to be too much of yourself, because you also have to take care of yourself and not be too vulnerable. But it is difficult for me because I am the same person, whether I am private or in my public role. It is important that people can feel that you are honest. That one does not play a role. That we listen with interest in relation to what we are presented with. Fortunately, it often comes to me quite naturally, because I have the opportunity to work with some causes that are very important to me” The couple remarked that it was easier for Prince Joachim because he has thicker skin to deal with certain situations while Princess Marie might be more affected which Prince Joachim says is because he was born as a royal so he had more time to get used to public life.
Talking about the blood clot he suffered from in the summer of 2020, Prince Joachim said that he had fully recovered and that he would not be here if it wasn’t for Princess Marie. He said: “It was not a turning point in my life, but it was an exclamation point. One of the things we have learned is that we have to live in the now, because we do not know what can hit us. The blood clot helped to show me that you should not take anything for granted.”
He said that his family suffered from the consequences of the blood clot, that it was a “violent experience” for them too, and that it is something they spent a lot of time working on. Princess Marie said it was scary and she thinks about it all the time.
Princess Marie said: “For me, there was no doubt: I had to save him, and I had to keep track of the situation. But it has changed my outlook on life. I always knew life was fragile, but I never thought it could overtake me. And I was uneasy regarding the kids. What if I’m left with it completely all alone? Just the thought that he would not either be able to use his brain and tell us all sorts of things or be able to get around physically was tough.”
She said they have been very lucky in their misfortune. They know several people who suffered from blood clots and they warned them that the hardest comes after the accident when you’re not running on adrenaline anymore. They said it’s important to talk together about what happened and to get it all out. Princess Marie says that while they are very grateful, there is a concern now: “Of course, one can get into an accident and so on. But the invisible, that comes from within, is anxiety-provoking.”
They say that they didn’t change much of their life because of it but now Princess Marie gets worried more easily than before if she doesn’t hear from Prince Joachim. He said it’s because the worry comes from something real that happened (which was not the case before).
Prince Joachim said the accident was much more violent for Princess Marie than for him because he did not feel anything at all while Princess Marie saw it happen, saw how it hit him, and had to deal with everything.
While they say they are not ready to laugh about it as of now (without it hanging over their heads every day either), Prince Joachim said: “The only thing I’ve been told afterward is that martial arts are over. But I did not cultivate that hobby beforehand either!” with a laugh.
As Queen Margrethe will celebrate her 50th anniversary on the throne next week, Prince Joachim also reflected on his mother’s reign. He said: “I can only say that this is something I believe, for there is no evidence of it: she was a young, almost newlywed mother when she became monarch, before she or others had expected it – with a relatively new husband by her side. He drove a Citroën and smoked French cigarettes. He added a new impetus, was special in the international way, and it was good in the years around 1968 to be so. She has gained a popular presence through the example of her parents and has been able to carry it on in her own way. As a woman, young mother, married to a French husband. Quietly, it has grown from there. Now she has become the constant. The one you listen to – at least once a year. She has been with Denmark all the way since 1972, Denmark has been with her. This is really symbiosis. Like a common ground.”
About the Danes’ relationship to the monarchy, Prince Joachim said: “I think it is marked by the awareness that the monarchy has been there for more than 1000 years. As a royal family, we have followed along with and alongside the Danish population throughout all those years and will continue to do so. It is a constant. This is probably also the monarchy’s foremost role today: to be a rallying point. A link to all that is left. That which we are all made of. An anchor. And at the same time to dare to show the way forward without having to take on a pioneering role. It must not become gray, dusty and backwards all over. Every monarchy has been shaped by the people it is among. The Danish model will probably not work in other countries – or vice versa. Because we have become part of Denmark and the Danes. Just as the Danes have become a part of us, and we infect each other. It is the symbiosis that has arisen after a long, tough move.”
As Queen Margrethe’s jubilee celebrations have mostly been postponed to the summer because of the pandemic, we will still see the Danish royal family marking the day on January 14th. They will attend a celebration at the Folketing and a wreath-laying ceremony at Roskilde Cathedral.
In the photos from the interview, Princess Marie is wearing a new blouse by Goat Fashion with her Ba&Sh belt and repeated jewels.