Hobart Xmas for Princess Mary
Tasmania's living, breathing fairy tale — Crown Princess Mary of Denmark — was home for Christmas for the first time in six years and behaved like most visitors.
Admittedly there were royal trappings. The family was accommodated in Government House during the "private visit" and had three security guards during the Christmas-rush outing to the Salamanca retail precinct.
But there were nice homely touches as well.
The princess embraced a male acquaintance she encountered outside the shops and enjoyed being introduced to two border collies by their proud owner.
Accompanied by her sister, Patricia Bailey, and friend and former bridesmaid, Amber Petty, Princess Mary shopped at Aspect Design, Handmark (owned by Brand Tasmania councillor Alannah Dopson), the Faerie Shop, the Spindle Tree, Hammer & Hand and Plato's.
Glenda Armstrong of Aspect Design told The Mercury: "She's a regular when she's down here. She's lovely, very polite — and the children are gorgeous."
Crown Prince Christian, 12, apparently pulled rank as the eldest child and senior heir to escape the retail trial, but the other three children, Princess Isabella, 10, and the 6-year-old twins, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, were enthusiastically involved.
Tasmania Police liaised with the Court of the Royal House of Denmark to ensure a safe visit by the family.
“Their trip to Tasmania is a personal visit by the royal family, and we ask that the community respect their request for private time with their family while in our State,” Inspector Jo Stolp, told the media.
The royal family's Australian holiday began on 11 December when they flew into Sydney.
The following day they were guests of Sydney businessman Sandy Oatley on board his celebrated Sydney-to-Hobart-winning supermaxi Wild Oats XI.
Skipper Mark Richards had to hose down rumours that Prince Frederik, an experienced sailor, would join him for the blue water classic.
“That’s not right — not this year,” Mr Richards told The Mercury.
“They were on board today for the Big Boat race, which is a bit of fun, but he definitely won’t be [on board] for Hobart.”
Prince Frederik had sailed on Wild Oats XI’s little sister, Wild Oats X, during Queensland's Hamilton Island Race Week in August, building connections with the Oatley team.
“They are great people,” Mr Richards said.
“Mary — she’s a great lady. Hobart should be very proud of her.”
The family also enjoyed a luxury cruise on Sydney Harbour and an Aussie-style day at the beach at Palm Beach, where the adults were seen jogging.
When Princess Mary emerged from the water with blood dripping from a cut to her elbow, Prince Frederik quickly applied a Band-aid.
The children enjoyed body boarding and swimming and the twins enjoyed kicking a football on the sand before the family left for lunch in a nearby café.
The Hobart-born UTAS graduate married Prince Frederik in 2004 after meeting him at a party during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
It was a love story to eclipse anything in the rich world of romantic fiction and it has continued to delight Danes as much as it does Tasmanians.
Through it all, "our Mary" has been poised, diplomatic, composed, and, yes, regal.
The couple last visited Australia two years ago, but did not make it to Tasmania.
Princess Mary's sisters, Jane Stephens, 49, and Patricia Bailey, 47, both live in Hobart, as does her father, John Donaldson, a former UTAS lecturer and one-time captain of Tasmania's rugby team.
Princess Mary's brother, also John Donaldson, lives in Perth.
Footnote: Crown Princess Mary isn’t Tasmania’s first or only princess. Pauline Curran married Prince Maximilian Melikoff, of the exiled Russian royal family, the Romanoffs, in 1926. She became Princess Melikoff and is remembered for bequeathing a substantial legacy in 1988 to "save the whales and the baby seals." Subsequently, a king’s child or Anak Agung in the Balinese kingdom of Denpasar, Lindy Rama, grew up in Hobart before marrying Olympic swimmer Michael Klim in 2006.
Image courtesy of The Mercury
8 February 2018, Edition 191