Denmark's Crown Princess Mary has followed in the footsteps of Diana Princess of Wales, promoting the work of murdered heart surgeon Victor Chang.
The 33-year-old Australian-born princess spent Friday touring the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute's laboratories in Sydney's east, officially opened by Diana in 1996.
And more than 550 guests looked on in awe as Princess Mary danced the first waltz with former NSW premier Neville Wran at the institute's ball in Sydney, just as Diana did on her final Australian tour.
Princess Mary, looking stunning in a full-length black V-neck gown with diamonte detail, diamond drop earrings and her hair swept up in a roll, smiled as she danced with Mr Wran in the grand ballroom of the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel to the song Moon River.
The cause is close to Princess Mary's heart, after she lost her mother Henrietta to heart disease in 1997, the same year Diana was killed in a Paris car crash.
Addressing the crowd, Princess Mary said it was an honour and a pleasure to support the work of Victor Chang.
"My family knows all too well the impact of losing someone to heart disease and I feel very privileged to be in a position today where I can lend my support and help to bring attention to a cause that is so very close to my heart," she said.
"The Victor Chang institute needs your support to continue and expand their potential life-changing work that may one day impact not only you and me but our children and generations to come."
Prince Frederik was attending a gala dinner for the Farr-40 world sailing championships and did not accompany his wife to the ball.
Earlier, the Royal Australian Navy gave the princess a guard of honour as she walked the red carpet, accepting flowers and a hand-written letter from fans.
Mr Wran introduced her to Ann, Vanessa, Matthew and Marcus Chang before accompanying her into the ballroom.
Princess Mary's sister, Jane Stephens, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Ros Packer were among the high-profile guests at the black-tie function.
The A-list event was held in the same ballroom where Diana and Prince Charles danced their way on to the front pages of newspapers around the world in 1988.
Princess Mary - who now makes a habit of mingling with locals before private engagements - was given two packets of fruit tingles and flowers as she arrived at her first official engagement today.
Bryce, Rory, Luca, Tom, Quinn, Rhys and Mathew, all aged four, said they heard the princess enjoyed fruit tingles and gave them to her as she arrived at the Victor Chang institute in Darlinghurst.
Princess Mary, wearing a sleeveless white wrap top with grey stripes, cream pants and cream stilettos, shook their hands and thanked the children, who were from the St Vincent's Hospital Childcare Centre.
Fourteen-year-old Sasha Steinhoff, from Darling Point, also met the princess, giving her a handmade card and pink flowers.
"I think you and Frederik are the fairytale couple and I watched your wedding seven times and cried on at least two of those times because it was one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever seen," the card read.
"You do Australia proud and I admire your charm and grace and the way you have conducted yourself in your new role."
Ms Steinhoff said she wanted to meet the princess after seeing her earlier in the week at the Cruising Yacht Club in Rushcutters Bay, and at the Westin Hotel for the Red Cross 90th anniversary Gala dinner.
Princess Mary toured the laboratories with institute chairman Mr Wran, executive director Bob Graham, and board member Anne Keating.
an other picture from yesterday which i didn't see before:) Denmark's Crown Princess Mary attends a Mental Health Foundation luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney
Denmark's Crown Princess Mary attends a Mental Health Foundation luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney March 3, 2005. Royal fever has been sweeping Australia as Britain's Prince Charles and Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary criss-cross the continent this week -- and republicans and monarchists could not be happier.
By Nicolette Casella and Michelle Cazzulino
From: The Daily Telegraph
PRINCESS Mary threw her support behind a cause close to her heart last night.
In a powerful, unscheduled speech inspired by her visit to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute yesterday, she told guests at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute ball of her own pain at the loss of her mother to heart disease. Faltering only once during the impromptu address, she said: "My family knows it all too well, to lose someone to heart disease, and I feel very privileged to be in a position where I can lend my support and help to bring attention to a cause that is so very close to my heart."
She praised the institute's "tremendously important and cutting edge work", and spoke of the "critical need" for more funds.
"The Victor Chang institute needs your support to continue and expand their potential life-changing work that may one day impact not only you and me but our children and generations to come," she said.
Princess Mary's mother Henrietta died in 1997, after undergoing surgery for a valve defect in her heart. Her older sister, Jane Stephens, was also in the audience to hear her words.
Her comments follow an emotional incident during a speech to a heart research organisation in Denmark in January, when she broke down and was unable to finish the speech.
Five hundred guests paid $1000 each to attend last night's ball at the Sofitel Wentworth hotel.
Earlier in the day she drew an adoring crowd of 200 well-wishers as she was given a tour of the institute's research facilities.
The crowd had waited for up to two hours for a glimpse of the Danish Crown Princess, who arrived at the Darlinghurst laboratories shortly before 2pm.
Yesterday's visit continued a nine-year royal legacy that began in 1996 when Princess Diana opened the institute's building.
Children were given a brief opportunity to present her with colourful bouquets of flowers.
Seven four-year-olds from the nearby St Vincent's Hospital Childcare Centre clutched single champagne-coloured roses and a large portfolio of drawings, which they later gave to Princess Mary, along with two rolls of Fruit Tingles, because, one child said, "they're her favourite lollies".
Eight-year-old Granville Public School student Selin Agacayak took the day off from classes and travelled into the city with her mother Arzu, hoping to catch a brief glimpse of the popular royal.
It turned out to be a worthwhile with Princess Mary pausing to accept Selin's arrangement of huge pink flowers.
"She doesn't meet a princess every day," Mrs Agacayak said.
"She's taken our family photo out of a frame we have at home and replaced it with a picture from Princess Mary's wedding."
Darling Point schoolgirl Sasha Steinhoff was thrilled when she was able to deliver a bright pink handmade card.
The 14-year-old said she had watched a tape of Princess Mary's wedding seven times and had been moved to tears. Her message to Princess Mary read in part: "You do Australia proud and I admire your charm and grace."
Princess Mary was later called on to exercise some of that charm and grace after little Ella Scott, who was scheduled to present her with a bouquet of flowers, was struck with a bout of stage fright and hid behind a lectern.
But a combination of her mother's hand and a few words from the Princess ensured the four-year-old was coaxed out for a brief conversation.
Outside the ball last night a throng of well-wishers applauded as the Princess walked down the red carpet.
Children gave the Princess flowers and four-year-old Annecy Boys, dressed in a fairy outfit complete with a tiara, handed her a signed picture she had drawn of the royal couple.
I'm torn between whether or not I like the dress. I like all the parts (glittery brooches on the shoulders, dropped waist top, somewhat sweeping skirt, the glittery girdle thing), but somehow the whole doesn't work for me. I think I'm confused by the "clash" of the glittery girdle and the dropped waist: maybe one or the other but not both?
Loved the pants and top she wore at the Victor Chang Institute during the day: very flattering cut to the top (the way I wish the pink satin top had flattered her), casual yet stylish summer outfit.
I like the black dress; just not the glittery "thing" around the middle. I think it makes the dress look a little, if I might use the word, tacky. One thing I do love is the buttons what looks to be holding the glittery "thing" in place. If they were there instead of the glittery "thing", the dress, in my opinion, would look much better.
I think it's wonderful that Mary has invested her time into the Victor Chang Research Centre. They do wonderful work, and as Mary has a personal involvement, she has a greater understanding of what their research is trying to achieve. Good on her!
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark continued her charity work with a visit to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) in Sydney's west.
The princess, dressed in a sleeveless brown, blue and green print dress with brown stilettos, was welcomed by ACRF chairman Tom Derry as she arrived at the Westmead Millennium Institute at Westmead Hospital at 11am (AEDT) on Saturday.
About 150 royal fans greeted the princess as her motorcade arrived at the institute.
During the hour-long visit, she will tour the melanoma research laboratories and learn about the foundation's work.
When asked how her morning had been, the princess replied "fabulous".
Earlier, Princess Mary visited The Children's Hospital at Westmead, where she read the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Ugly Duckling to five children ranging from two months to eight years old.
She will attend an ACRF dinner at Boomerang, in Elizabeth Bay.
It follows the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute ball in Sydney, at which the princess was the guest of honour.
Thank you pdas1201 for all the photos. Mary looked lovely. I'm sure the kids would have loved her reading to them. I can only imagine how excited some of them must have been.:) It's wonderful she's been involved in a lot of charity-related events while in Australia.