When it comes to royal fashion, all roads lead to Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary.
She has been the country’s global style ambassador since marrying into the royal family in 2003 – and over the last 16 years, she has influenced royal women around the world. While her counterparts in the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, face their own unique struggles with interpreting their royal roles, Mary, a former advertising executive, entered her position with relative ease.
For years, there have been the inevitable comparisons between her and Kate Middleton, who share a love of conservative hemlines, fascinators and muted palettes, and the bank of imagery of the two of them together on state visits certainly helps the case.
While Spain’s Queen Letizia, at 47, is approaching her duties from a different life perspective and one in keeping with her country’s unique culture, there are other similarities between Denmark and Holland, for example, and in particular with the United Kingdom.
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Most recently, on an official visit to Poland, where she is being likened with Poland’s first lady Agata Duta, she embraced the high-low fashion so beloved of royal women.
She arrived to the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, wearing a powder blue coat, matching dress and Christian Louboutin snakeskin heels, her hair in its signature bouncy waves for the low-maintenance princess à la Kate MIddleton.
But her highlight this season was undoubtedly her appearance at the White Tie Court Banquet in Japan, honouring Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement last month. Mary debuted a lilac off the shoulder gown with embellished cape detail by Valentino and the Edwardian tiara; a moment in time which could mark just how far her style journey has come in the eyes of the public.
During a recent trip to Paris, her second meeting with French first lady Brigitte Macron, she nailed transitional workwear in the form of a creme polo neck and check midi skirt for daytime, before changing into a delicate lace dress with cap sleeves; a juxtaposition of which only she seems capable.
Read more: Crown politics: how Sweden, Norway and Holland navigated their own (much juicier) royal scandals
When Mary (née Donaldson) first met her now-husband Crown Prince Frederik at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, it was love at first sight. She was unaware of his royal status and she was working as an advertising executive, but within weeks, they began to plan for their future and within a short period of time, she was living in Copenhagen and becoming fluent in Danish.
Her first public appearance with him – at the 2003 Dragon World Championship in Tasmania – was reminiscent of Meghan Markle’s divisive decision to wear ripped jeans at the Invictus Games in 2016. Mary’s choice of flared jeans and a knit jumper wasn’t met with the same disdain, but in the era before social media, few things did.
Within a few weeks of her first introduction to royal life, she was engaged to the first in line to the Danish throne. And 16 years later, theirs is a literal happily ever after as they raise four children in their home at Frederik’s eponymous wing in Amalienborg Palace.
“It takes courage to dare, but without daring we lose what could have been. I am so happy that you swept me off my feet and that we dared to fall for each other, not for a moment, but for life,” she said at his 50th birthday celebrations last year.
In the gushing speech, she recalled her first introduction to the unfamiliar side of his world.
“I got to know you in shorts and T-shirt, and I remember very clearly the first time you changed from casual to gala,” she said.
“It was during my first visit to Denmark where we had celebrated our first New Year’s together. I was sitting in the couch in your living room when you said that you should get ready for dinner, a dinner that is always held on 1st of January. At that time, I really didn’t know so much about that part of your world. So, I didn’t give it much thought.
“You left the room, as the man I knew, and came back in full gala uniform. It was suddenly a very different image of you that was new to me. Deeply impressive and daunting at the same time. But your eyes and your smile were the same. Gala or not.”
His classic style is among Mary’s influences, and her transition from civilian to queen-in-waiting, has been a relatively seamless one. She, like other European royals, have jam-packed schedules and following regal style beyond Kate and Meghan Markle is becoming a competitive sport all its own; each time gathering more steam.
Seemingly every week, Mary is championing an up-and-coming or established Danish label, or is mixing high-low fashion in a truly relatable way. It’s of little reason why it’s long been considered that the Duchess of Cambridge looks to her Danish peer for fashion advice.
And royal watchers are all the better for it.
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