royal weddings crown prince frederick denmark

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She thought he was charming, but didn't know he was a prince.

Dashing Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark introduced himself simply as "Fred" when he met marketing professional Mary Donaldson in a crowded Sydney, Australia pub during the 2000 Olympic games.

The oldest son of reigning Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, Prince Frederick is heir to the 1000-year-old Danish monarchy. His future throne is part of Europe's oldest royal lineage, which dates back to the reign of Gorm the Old.

Scottish-born Donaldson, an elegant, brunette beauty, was raised by her middle-class parents in the Australian state of Tasmania. Her father was a college math professor; her late mother an executive assistant at the University of Tasmania.

Following her engagement, Donaldson would share in interviews that she spoke intently with the prince for a half-hour before the Olympic sailor briefly rejoined his teammates and someone whispered his royal identity to her.

The couple's meeting at Sidney's Slip Inn marked the discreet beginning of a four-year romance. Prince Frederick quietly returned to Australia several times to court Donaldson -- a woman Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld has said could pass for Kate Middleton's big sister --before she gave up her career and moved to Europe.

In Oct. 2003 Queen Margrethe publicly acknowledged the romance and six months later, the couple's engagement was formally announced.

Prince Frederick proposed to Donaldson with an emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, accented by two emerald-cut rubies, designed to represent the Danish flag. The princess-to-be also received an especially royal pre-wedding gift from her future in-laws; a delicate, antique diamond tiara that converts to a necklace. (She has since been photographed wearing it both ways.)

Princess Mary Elizabeth renounced her Australian citizenship and her Presbyterian faith to become a Danish Lutheran before the couple's grand state wedding at Copenhagen's Cathedral Von Frue Kirk on May 14, 2004.

Crowds lining Copenhagen's streets cheered wildly and began chanting "Mary, Mary" when Donaldson exited a car and prepared to enter the cathedral accompanied by her father, John, who was clad in a Scottish kilt.

mary donaldson royal wedding

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The 32-year-old bride wore a scoop-neck ivory satin gown by Uffe Frank and a veil first worn by Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden in 1905, topped by her "something new" tiara. Her symbolic bouquet consisted of Australian eucalyptus interspersed with flowers taken from the palace garden.

Her bridesmaids included her two sisters and close friend, Amber Petty, an Australian radio personality. The attendants wore tailored, long silk skirts and jackets, in related hues of raspberry and red. Three of the bride's young nieces served as flower girls in blush pink dresses, while two little boy pages wore navy blue blazers and khaki pants

Prince Frederick's best man or "supporter" was his younger brother, Prince Joachim.

During their reception, the prince made a poignant speech in both English and Danish, in which he spoke directly to Donaldson's father: "I love her and I will protect her with all my heart. I will do my best to make her feel confident and at home in her new country."

He then turned to his bride, spoke of their fateful meeting and said, "Your radiance shone clearly for me from our first meeting. Since then I have been blinded and totally dependent on it."

They couple reportedly spent their honeymoon in Africa.

The crown princess is considered a fashion icon whose style has been compared to that of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as well as Great Britain's Princess Diana. She is often photographed wearing Danish designers at events, but has also patronized Hugo Boss, Prada and Chanel.

The couple are parents of four children including Prince Christian, 5, and three-year-old Princess Isabella.

In January the royals announced more happy news: They became the parents of twins; a boy and girl. The Danish public anxiously awaits their scheduled baptism in April when royal tradition dictates their names will be formally announced.