Mary's royal tuition begins as wedding date is set
By Holly Byrnes in Copenhagen
October 12, 2003
With her button nose nobly tilted skyward and a very royal wave, Tasmanian girl-made-good Mary Donaldson may have appeared the model of a princess bride.
But the making of the future Queen Mary remains a renovation work in progress for this former Sydney real estate agent, who, with the help of a team of experts, has already been crowned hof (royal) property.
Since meeting her royal match in Sydney during the Olympics three years ago, Miss Donaldson has been making her life fit for a king a full-time job.
An amateur deportment course costing $1200 kicked off the makeover in Sydney, but it wasn't until Miss Donaldson made the move to her Crown Prince Frederik's home of Denmark two years ago that her right royal plans took shape.
Her appearances at a series of weddings, most notably in a belly-button-revealing cropped top, drew the attention of etiquette experts who spent days and column inches debating Miss Donaldson 's fresh fashion sense and royal cred.
Cue the royal style police.
While blessed with a naturally slim and sporty physique, Miss Donaldson sought the advice of hair and make-up artist Soren Hedegaard to help polish her increasingly public appearances.
The two met through Hedegaard's gay partner, Preben Kristensen, a long-time friend of Frederik's and a leading Danish comedian (famous for his drag impersonations of Queen Margrethe).
Keeping her makeover under wraps, Hedegaard and Miss Donaldson made regular trips to a suburban department store, where Estee Lauder beauty therapists offered cosmetic tips and treatments.
With high cheekbones, deep brown eyes and a toothpaste grin, Miss Donaldson has proved an easy canvas to work on - emerging on the balcony last week perfectly groomed from her French manicure to her regal coiffured hairstyle.
While some Danish traditionalists have tut-tutted over Miss Donaldson 's heavy use of cheek gloss and lipstick, the style set have rejoiced at their princess pin-up.
Regularly spotted shopping at Copenhagen's leading luxury boutique, Birger Christensen, the 31-year-old has developed a fresh style for herself, marked by a love of delicate beaded detailing and a soft, muted colour palette of pinks, mushroom and creams.
Fashion editor Karen Margrethe Schelin of Denmark's Berlingske Tidende newspaper said Miss Donaldson has triumphed in her wardrobe choices so far. "She has been wise not to start off wearing very avant garde designs," Ms Schelin said, applauding the Jackie O-style coat dress and classic accessories Miss Donaldson wore during last week's official engagement duties.
"There will be many other opportunities to test the boundaries, which at times will feel like a straightjacket to this young royal. She can experiment more when the years go by."
Danish designer Julie Fagerholt was charged with creating Miss Donaldson 's first evening gown for the gala engagement dinner at Fredensborg Castle - a stunning silk satin, asymmetrical-cut creation in emerald green.
Fagerholt, whose label Heart Made is Denmark's answer to Collette Dinnigan, is widely tipped to dress Miss Donaldson on her wedding day.
And when your husband-to-be's annual salary is about 3.7 million kroner ($850 000), clearly money will be no object for this blushing bride.
What will prove of greatest value, however, will be her success at mastering Danish.
Her attempts to address the international press conference in Danske last week drew the most scrutiny from the media since she stepped into the spotlight.
Miss Donaldson now has to focus on her royal studies, which will include lessons in protocol by Per Thornit, the chief of court.
"The process for Miss Donaldson is only just beginning, in official terms, just a few days ago," Mr Thornit told The Sun-Herald. "Once she's overcome the language then we will move on to understanding the other aspects of Danish and royal life she will need to know."
This will range from meetings with the Prime Minister, key public servants and industry leaders to etiquette lessons, such as how to accept a bouquet in public and then discreetly pass it on.
Some of the changes are already obvious, with a security detail in place to protect her around the clock.
But perhaps the most important job our Mary is yet to do is breed.
It must have pained the secretive Australian to see details of her alleged pre-proposal fertility tests discussed in the national media.
But it is in producing an heir that Miss Donaldson's place as Denmark's beautiful future queen will be complete.