A little over a year ago I came across a documentary entitled “Mary Elizabeth Donaldson” that was made after her engagement to Prince Frederik.
The documentary was produced with the full cooperation of Mary and the royal family(!), and aired exclusively on Danmarks Radio on exactly ten years ago today on May 10, 2004. This was just three days before their wedding on May 14. If you haven’t already seen it and are AT ALL interested in the Danish royals, I highly recommend it. You can watch the documentary below and yes, it’s an hour. Plan to really tuck in and watch while folding laundry, wrapping birthday presents or something. Just do it!
There are three main reasons why I find this documentary so interesting to dissect.
#1: The Documentary was done with the royal family’s full co-operation
The fact that this documentary was royally sanctioned is fascinating in itself. I suppose the royal family and their advisors felt it was important to really introduce Mary formally to the Danes, and to give them a chance to get to know her. Consequently the documentary is very “behind the scenes” and shows the couple arriving at the airport to travel to Australia for visit the Donaldson family and even on the plane. Later we see them walking on the beach
and Mary introduces her relatives during their visit at a winery and tells us all about them (they all seem very warm and lovely).
She also takes us around to where she used to work and we hear from her boss about what she was like as an employee (“she wanted to move ahead quicker than I thought she should…but if that’s a weakness then I think that’s acceptable”). We also hear talk about how she met the prince during the Sydney Olympics and Mary’s sister talks about how excited they all were when Mary and Frederick got engaged. She says that her children were especially jazzed to be able to tell people “my auntie is going to be a princess.”
I mean, it’s GOLD. Can you image if there had been an officially sanctioned Kate documentary before her wedding to William? Unheard of!
#2 Insight into Mary’s Incredible Transformation
Mary’s measured manner of speaking, careful annunciation, and lack of a full on Australian accent is fascinating (her dad even comments on it at one point). Her transformation began around the time she first met Frederik. She was 28, and must have figured that she need to polish up if she was going to go the distance and get that tiara! Most tellingly, Mary signed up to take an eight-week course called Starmakers that gave lessons on comportment, how to pose for pictures, and public speaking.
This picture was taking during that course:
This news broadcast has actual footage of Mary in the course practicing walking with her fellow classmates. Seriously!!! That part starts at 1:20 if you’d like to skip ahead.
In a nutshell she went from being pretty and girl next door:
To this. TA DA!
The Royal Order of Sartorial blog has a more thorough account of Mary’s transformation. Check it out here.
#3 More Insight into Official Princess Training
The Starmakers things is one part, but this documentary also gives more insight into the work that Mary did to prepare to be Crown Princess. Perhaps most importantly, she had to learn to speak Danish and we see her in the midst of one of her lessons in what I assume is her apartment.
She seems very smart and hardworking, and unlike Princess Charlene of Monaco who is still struggling with her French, she picked up Danish pretty quickly. She tells the camera that she had two teachers that work with her, and that they also had her reading historical books and books about the royal family as a way to help learn the language.
She also talks about what an out of body experience it was to walk out onto the balcony to see a sea of Danish people waving Danish and Australian flags after the engagement was announced, and how she wants to work towards being a worthy representative of Denmark.
I think that she has done a good job in the last ten years, and I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to say the same about Kate…
Mary does get a hard time from lots of royal blogs out there, but she seems very warm and relatable, don’t you think?
If you’re in the mood for more makeover talk, here’s a look at how Kate started preparing her royal wardrobe and here are a few more fun posts on Mary:
A look at some official portraits of Princess Mary
Princess Mary’s engagement ring and pre-wedding interview, which is full of bon mots
Mary all dolled up for the New Year’s Banquet
Mary’s oldest son Prince Christian is a real cutie…and the future King