The "Costume" Interview with Princess Alexandra: July 2004
I noticed somewhere on this board someone asking about the content of the interview with Princess Alexandra in Costume (July edition 2004).
I will try to make a translation :blink: - afterall I can only improve my english skills :P
Please do not hesitate to comment on any sentences, which just does't make any sense in english, etc. etc....
”I now dare to be more vulnerable”
June the 30th Princess Alexandra is turning 40 years. Meet a woman, who has succeeded in combining a fantastic career with a meaningful life.
By Camilla Frank.
Once upon a time there was a woman named Alexandra Christina Manley. Every morning she rised early and went to work at an office in a very large building in a town called Hong Kong. But one day she met a prince, who brought her to his own country. Besides the prince and her dog, who she brought along on the journey, she knew no one in the new country. Alexandra Christina Manley had to start all over and dream new dreams. Now she was going to be Princess Alexandra.
“In the beginning I felt so lonely. I went from working in a large enterprise, which employed 200 people, and you had anything to discuss, you always knew exactly were to go. Here I also arrived in a large system, but suddenly I was all-alone. And that, I thought, was frightening.”
On the entry phone her name is written in polished brass right below her husbands (name): H. R. H. (His Royal Highness) Prince Joachim and H. R. H. Princess Alexandra. It is a Tuesday morning in April, when I ring the bell in the gate to Christian VIII’s mansion at Amalienborg in Copenhagen. Here Princess Alexandra lives, when she has official duties in the capital.
The princess arrives punctually wearing a turquoise tunic and tight jeans. In the neckline of the tunic a cross decorated with blue stones twinkles, the hair is lightly moist, and there is no make up covering the flawless caramel coloured skin. The look is sharp in the warm brown eyes, the handshake insisting. The shape is tiny little and fairylike, the charisma strong as an elves queen.
Princess Alexandra enchants. Exactly like she has done it since she nearly 10 years ago first appeared public on the stairs of Fredensborg Castle wearing a red suit and with an twinkling engagement ring on her left hand. She is a bit more beautiful, a little more intense. She is a princess, exactly as most peoples dream of how a real princess should be. But today, a few weeks before her 40 years birthday at June the 30th, she also leaves the impression of being a woman, who knows her own worth and knows, what she wants.
“Turning 40 is a milestone. I think you are more aware regarding, that you are not immortal. There are a lot of things; you want to do in life. Now it starts… It doesn’t start to hasten, but I do reflect a lot more now, than when I was 30 years.”
What in particular do You reflect upon?
“I think, that the older you get, the more you ask yourself the big questions. I would like to know, what is the meaning in me being here on the earth. What is my message? How am I to do the things better for myself, my family and my surroundings?”
What is the answer on that?
“My work within the humanitarian areas is directly linked with all the big philosophical questions. To be a benefit for others. To see, that you mean something, that you can move some boundaries for others and make their conditions and everyday a little better.
When I get home from something officially and have seen, how happy people are, I become amazingly happy. A lot of my friends have remarked: ‘It must be tiring.’ But I get more energy, the more I do. I will rather be busy than doing nothing.”
How do You experience the effect, You have on people?
“I can sense, that I am good with people. I find it easy to talk with people, I find it easy to make people relax and enjoy being with me. I think, than when I meet people, I can always find a subject, we have in common, or I can learn about. It is so important always to try to get the best out of a situation, no matter where you are. It can be a child in a kindergarten asking, how it is to be a princess, and where my crown is today? I then tell them: ‘It was to heavy today, it is at home’. Or it can be, when I visit the Danish Blindness Society as a protector. In the minutes, I am with them, the surface doesn’t count, and I can feel, that even though they can’t see me, than there is a contact. They trust me and are so happy about me being there.
It gives me a sense of warmth, of proud ness. The thoughts, I have, regarding the meaning of being of earth – some of them, I get an answer on in these situations.”
To be continued....
You did a brilliant job! :flower:
THANK YOU Chatleen :flower: :flower: :flower:
That was just perfect! So sweet of you to translate for those of us who do not speak the danish language.
“My life changed radically, when came to Denmark nearly 10 years ago. When you from one day to the other get engaged, married, get another job and other duties, than the ones you are familiar with, and on top of it becomes a public known person, then everything is quite overwhelming.
Suddenly you have a role to fill, you have a new country to get to know, you need some friends. I knew no one. I had to start all over, and I can remember, that I experienced it like I was a 5 years old child.
I think 3 years went along, before I really started to feel, that things were in order, and now I could really start focusing on the things, which were important for me – for instance my job.
In the beginning it was all like a typhoon, everything in my life was turned up and down, and I continuously received a lot of inputs from everywhere possible. It was confusing.
Fortunately I am very open, very stubborn and very energetic. I am a person, who says: ‘this is my situation. If anyone has to do something about it, than it is myself.’ Knowing that I couldn’t do anything right away, but that there would come some friendships, and I was the one to find them.
And after 3 years I could say to myself: ‘Now I have found some lovely girlfriends, who will mean a lot to me in many, many years to come. Someone I really can trust, and who wants my friendship. Not because of who I am, but because of my qualities as a girlfriend. We use (Chatleen: maybe not the right phrase) each other, and it is very important to be able to share some things.
I also have a very close family: My sisters and me are so very close, and my parents mean everything.
In the beginning I often wondered, whether I did my work in the right way. If I could do things better. But I also worried on banal stuff. Like where to buy for instance a calendar?
At that time it was important for me not to start a family. There were so many new things, I has to find out. How could I, who felt like a 5-years old, take care of a child?
I have always been good at focusing on the present. Everything has to be ready and in order, before I continue with the next phase of my life.”
What is the difference between the Alexandra, who came to Denmark nearly 10 years ago, and the princess Alexandra today?
“Of course there has been added some deeper or newer dimensions at my personality. I am not a career woman with a capital C anymore. I am a human being, who has a very important humanitarian work. That alone means, that I have become a deeper and more vulnerable human being. I dare to be more vulnerable. More philosophical. I think, that sometimes it is good to take a step back and reflect upon things. It can also be just to reflect upon, how the day has been. If I am satisfied with that, I have experienced. If I could have done things different. Just from one day to the other. Or in the bigger picture.”
What do You miss from you previous life, before You became a public known person?
I miss spontaneity. I miss just to be able to … go out. Of course a part of the spontaneity disappears, when you become a mother, but part of it is also related to the position, I possess – that’s clear.
There is no restrictions as such, and if I for instance would want to go for at walk on Strøget, I can do that, but when I have been out for a while, I sense not being that anonymous. (Chatleen: ‘Strøget’ is the main high street in Copenhagen, only open to pedestrians). You are a bit vulnerable, when you know, that everyone knows who you are, and you are out wanting to be private. And than you feel like going home after a shorter while, than you had planned, because it is not so relaxing.
Earlier/previously (Chatleen: ????) I liked going shopping with a girlfriend, to sit and “hygge” and drink a nice cup of coffee. Not that it is so bad, that I can’t do it at all, not at all, but if you buy a little make-up, than yes, someone wants to know, which brand you buy, which colour you use. Or which shoes, you buy. Which size in shoes. Does she have big feet, does she have small feet? There is no longer any discretion and anonymity.”
From the outside we have experienced You as a strong woman, who are not afraid to object. Neither to the press. When do You feel the urge to object?
“One of my first official duties was in Randers Regnskov, and I think, there were more than 50 people from the press. (Chatleen: Randers Regnskov is an artificially made rain forest, made to be a museum). I was going inside to see the rain forest, and they all stood 1 metre in front of me. It was very hot in there. It was more than 30 degrees (Chatleen: centigrade) and almost 100% humidity, and they were sweating, while I enjoyed it, because for me it was just my climate, and they had difficulties to get about because of each other and rushed around everywhere and after 5 minutes, one of them asks: ‘Well, what does the Princess think of the rain forest?’, and I hadn’t seen anything, so I had to say: ‘Honestly, if You don’t move, than I can’t answer anything. I can’t see anything.’”
To be continued....
This is wonderful!! Thanx alot Chatleen^^
wonderful translation, Chatleen.
Thank you so much, Chatleen. Can't wait till the next installment.
“I have chosen to work as protector for a number of various organisations. First and foremost because I think, that it is very important, that your focus isn’t to narrow. It is important, that you mean something for different types of people from various backgrounds. That you are a role model to the largest possible part of society. I want to touch as many people’s hearts as possible.
I have had many strong experiences during my travels as protector, and after 9 years, you can’t just call attention to one of them – you can’t. But one experience, that really touched me deeply, happened, when I visited a very poor area in the northern part of Thailand, in Chang Mai, February last year visiting with UNICEF.
We visited a small family in the jungle, the parents were in the beginning of their twenties. Beautiful, beautiful young people, who had a 3-years old daughter. She was the sweetest child, and she was running around smiling, but they were so poor, and both her mother and father had the HIV-virus.
When I talked with them about their wishes in life, the father said, that he wished for to cows, because he would really like to be able to provide for his family. And you thought, it was fantastic, that they still kept their pride. They weren’t just asking for money or were angry at the system or the society, because they had been struck by disease. And than they of course wanted to wish the best for their daughter, but the reality probably is, that they won’t even be there to see her finishing school. They are young people, whose future has been stolen.
It was really tough, and I felt so helpless. Sometimes you are in a situation just to listen, and you don’t have an answer all the time. You have to try to be the best support as possible. And try to be as humane, as you can. Try to understand the other ones world to be able to feel, how unjust the world is.
I can remember, when I came back to the hotel. Felix was 5 months old at that time, and he was brought along, because I still breast-fed him. Everyone in the family wanted my attention, and Joachim wanted to know, how my day had been, and I can remember, that I just went to the bathroom, locked the door and had to be myself for a while.
Sometimes … I have to come to terms with everything, I have experienced. That is clear. But I also have to storage it in some “rooms” in my brain, so that I can draw on the experiences, when I need it. It is not enough for me just having experienced those things. I have to able to use them for something. I have to see, if I can do anything. It is very important, so that others stories are told, and if I am able just to touch one persons heart with my experiences, what I have seen, then I have reached at least one of my goals.”
Have You never had the desire to “unplug the line” (Chatleen: “ by me, I really don’t know, if you can use this expression in English ;)) and make a cancellation at an official arrangement?
“No. I have never desired that. Never. But of course I have had the desire to go in an airplane and fly to a desert island and just lie there for some hours. Forget everything about my everyday, forget everything about my responsibility and the ones, who want my attention, forget everything about the time and expectations. I wouldn’t be human, if I didn’t say that.
And it is important to “recharge the batteries” (Chatleen: “ by me) sometimes. To say: ‘Now I have had enough. Now I have to just think of myself.’ Then I am with my children, have dinner with some girlfriends or my husband and chat about the past week.
But it is also important to have a private side, on which everybody doesn’t know everything. If you haven’t got that, than who are you? I am a human being with several facets, and of course the public shouldn’t see them all. It is clear, that I have to keep something to myself. Something for my family and something for my friends.”
How do you retain a private side in Your position?
“I don’t think, that I chance, when I am at an official arrangement. I still put forward the same standpoints, with the same principles, thoughts, ideas. But you have to think carefully. Where you sit, which situation you are in. Of course you can allow yourself to be more relaxed and straightforward with friends, than when you are at an official engagement.
When you are an official representative, well, then you have to “deliver”. You are in the limelight. You have to think carefully, before you say anything, and you can’t just ask a stupid question.
It is tough to be in the limelight. When you know, that the amount of hours you spend at a place, you can’t just sit and relax and shake your shoulders a little, if you are tired, or take a few minutes break. When you are in the limelight, than you know, that you have to do your best from all angles. Both the internal and the external. And maybe your body feels a little “tight”, but you can’t just stretch yourself a little. All the time you have to think: ‘How would I like, that people see me.’”
To be continued...
Thanks Jasl, Eliza, Poppy, Lori and joytotheworld for your kind words :)
Thank you So Much Chatleen for translating this interview. Alex is my fav. princess and seems like a nice person. This interview is very open. And all of your expressions were good, they make sense.
I'll try to post the rest of the interview tomorrow, only a small part is left. Today was a kind of a national celebration here, with bonfires etc., but the weather made me and my friends stay inside - and as a result I had just a little to much redwine ;) :P
Not only because you're a Dane, but because she is someone to look up to :flower:
“Turning 40 is a milestone, but the fact, that I have stayed almost 10 years in Denmark is also a milestone. I really feel Danish, and I have felt that for many years. The key in reaching that feeling was clearly learning the language. Than you were able to read the newspapers, watch television and understand the slight differences in your friends conversations.”
What does it mean for you, that You feel Danish?
“I made “flæskesteg” (Chatleen: “ by me, roast pork) for the first time at Christmas last year, and I think I will continue in doing that.
Actually I feel, that I have more in common with Denmark, than I have had with Hong Kong or England or Austria. I always look forward, when I’m travelling home. When people have asked me: ‘Well, when are you going back home to Hong Kong the next time?’ I say: ‘My home is hear, in Denmark.’ People can ask me, when I am going to my childhood home perhaps, but Denmark is my home.”
You have been an utmost active representative for the royal family during the first 10 years. How does Your future role as Princess of Denmark look like – do You consider to step down on your activities?
“To step down is being less busy. And that scares me to be less busy. I am a person, who loves a high pace. It is some of the worst of all for me to have nothing to do. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.
I think I inherited the quality of being busy from my mother. It is in the genes. Since I was a young child, I have always had a lot of things to do. I can also see the same quality in our children. Nicolai has energy, which is simply unbelievable. He rushes around, and he talks, and he soaks up. Felix has only just started to rush around following the big brother, but I remember, that I once said to a girlfriend: ‘Where has my son all this energy from?’
‘How can you ask yourself that question at all?’ she answered me: ‘Of course he has it from you’.
In the future I would really like to work more with the trades and industries, it is a big part of me, and I have many years of experience in that area. I think, that put together with my humanitarian work, will give a really good balance in my life.”
What have You been able to bring with you from Your former life as businesswoman in Hong Kong to use in the role as Princess?
“For instance it has been a very good base for me, that I was able to deliver a speech in a microphone in front of a lot of people.
One of the very few occasions, where I have been nervous for making a speech was in Møgeltønder, 3 days before we were getting married. I thought: ‘Dear me, this is quite ambitious of me.’ But I did choose myself to deliver a speech for my future countrymen – a whole population – in their mother tongue. And it was a language, I had learnt in 5 weeks. When I hear the tape today, I think, it sounds awful.
But when I came to the country, it was so important for me to be able to say thank you, and how happy I was to be here, and how I would do my best – in Danish. It wouldn’t do any good to say thank you in another language. Than I wouldn’t have done mine, done my effort.
I experienced a bit of the same feeling in the spring, when SAS opened their first route to Shanghai, and I stood in the airport and delivered a speech in mandarin after a 12-hours flight with 3 hours of sleep. I had been practicing the speech the last couple of hours on board the plane, and it was going round in my head. I had a jetlag, and I was tired, but it went all right.
I had had 5 hours of lecturing in mandarin, so perhaps it was very ambitious. Mandarin is not the same as Cantonese at all – and I only know a little bit of Cantonese, so in language terms I couldn’t draw on anything from my time in Hong Kong.
But sometimes it is good to move your borders and try out some new things. If it succeeds, you want more. I think, it is so important to have an end in view in life. And if you don’t do that, than who does?”
This was the end of the main part of the interview with this wonderful woman. What is left is a small box with facts like birthday etc. and larger box with some small questions regarding fashion etc.
Do you like this interview? I think, as others already have mentioned, that she is very open. She sounds thoughtful, and I get the feeling of knowing her just a little bit better, than I did before.
Regarding the languages, she is ambitious in giving speeches after just several hours or weeks tutoring. Regardless of the results, I admire her courage to do so because languages are those you do more with or without mistakes will get you further faster.
I like her thoughfulness and down to earth qualities. She does not use big bulky words to inflat her importance, just everyday life experiences, very heart warming indeed.
Just wonder about one thing, no question related to her relationship with mary? :lol:
Also, no any mention of joachim, kind of weird, not to talk about her husband when she is in the limelight.
And I thought she is famous for her witty response to questions, I do not hear it this time. when you are at 40, a milestone, there got to be some jokes about the age.
Maybe she is more in the mood of reflection, but hey, don't forget to humor ourselves now and then.
SUch a very intelligent and kind person at the same time. SHe is full of energy!
IMagine being in the plane for 12 hours and only 3 hours of sleep! SHe was still able to do it...
My favorite princess of all time.
a sign of great maturity and down to earth. well done to alexandra and there is a great difference to mary's interview. i hate to compare them two but there is indeed a great difference.
I got the felling that Alex's opinion is very Buddist . Its probably because she was born in Hong Kong. That means Hong Kong has a big influence on her.
Thanks soooooo much, Chatleen. We (those who can´t speak Danish) are so grateful! It was a fantastic translation. About being "on"...maybe you can say when "I´m in the limelight" (if that is what you are looking for...to be in public where everyone is focused on you).
Thanks for the hard work translating the interview!
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