The first book about Mary was published right after the wedding.
Danish journalist Anne Wolden-Ræthinge (Ninka) made a summary of the series of interviews (25 hours in total) she had conducted with Mary Donaldson from December 2003 to April 2004. The book was clearly more than a cooperation with Danish Court. There are no critical remarks and Ninka only uses superlatives to describe Mary, 'the new queen Ingrid'.
The first interview took place in Mary's apartment at Langelinie.
On meeting Frederik:
" I knew that work should't be filling my whole life. There should be a balance. It was in that period I met Frederik. It was september 16, 2000.
I lived together with four others in a big house at the time of the Olympics in Sydney, and one of my flatmates had been invited to take a few friends along to a bar to meet some Spaniards who participated in the games. As it happens, that evening I was going to a kind of goodbye party at a friend's place a couple of houses down the street, but when the taxi arrived I thought: "No, I'm changing my mind". A sudden decision taken in a split second. I think perhaps it was because I was the one who had lived in the house the longest, and because it was the first time we were all going out together.We drove to a bar called "Slip-Inn". There was a party of some Australians and two nephews of the Spanish king, plus crown prince Frederik, prince Joachim, prince Nikolaos of Greece and princess Märtha Louise of Norway. I didn't know who they were. After half an hour one of my flatmates told me, "Do you know these people are prince this and princess that?" Frederik and I began to converse, and we simply didn't stop talking. And that was it! A very long conversation, which continued over 14 months.
The next day he and his brother travelled to Melbourne. A week later I met him and his friends over dinner. After that he travelled Australia for six weeks. When he came back we met again, but he was called back home, because his grandmother was seriously ill. He was very affected by it and wanted to leave as quickly as possible. We got a day and a half together, where we had hoped for a week to get to know each other a little better. For the first three and a half months after we had met, the period after the death of queen Ingrid, we didn't see each other. Frederik was very glad that he had been able to say goodbye to her. And that she had been aware of him being there. He told me about how he felt and I was able to give him some advise because I had experienced it myself. We talked about how he could learn something from the sorrow. About what to read to get help. I sent him a book I had read myself when my mother died: "A Grief Observed".
It wasn't like 'BANG' the first night. That I knew I met the man of my life. It is difficult to pinpoint that precise moment. There was a great distance between us and big gaps of time between our meetings, too. But we kept contact. And each time we met, it went one step further.
That I knew who he was made the whole thing more uncertain. Could it develop to something at all? On the other hand I wasn't pessimistic. Each step forward took us to a point where we realized, that we couldn't continue to be far away from each other. We had to take the jump and see where we would land."
"Our contact continued and became deeper and deeper. We wrote letters and emails and phoned each other. Almost every day. We sent pictures and small things to each other. For instance I sent him a cd of Powderfinger, my favorite rockband, and he sent me some Danish cds, Sort Sol for instance. We took part in each others life that way and shared what was possible. We didn't talk much about his work, almost not at all. It has been a slow introduction to his world. He wanted to protect me. Perhaps he was afraid that it would scare me. And I never asked. Sometimes our e-mails were very long, some pages, sometimes only four lines."
On the reunion with Frederik:
"When I went to the airport I was terribly nervous. I didn't want to be in the airport building itself, I stayed outside. Frederik later told me that I stood in a dark corner - I really tried to be as small as possible. He thought it was quite funny. It took a couple of days for us to relax completely, because we had't spent that much time together before.
He stayed for little over two weeks. I wanted it to go well. After all it was possible that after a day or two we'd have said: "No, this isn't working". But fortunately it went well. We travelled a bit by car - my car - and stayed at one of my friends' summercabin at the beach. We swam in the sea and took walks in the bush, went sightseeing in Sydney, just the two of us. I knew it was serious, but still I was a bit sceptical. Could this continue? Even after those two weeks, as the thougthful person he is, he couldn't just say: "Well, come with me to Denmark!" That isn't in his nature. It could have been all too much for me and much too early.
The next time we met was in Europe and we travelled for two weeks again. Wonderful. We travelled to Caïx, where we met some of his friends. After that we both wanted to be together more often, but we didn't know how. The only solution was for me to move: a big step. It was important to find out if we could live together. We didn't talk about a wedding at all. But it was always a possibility."
"In November 2001 -14 months after we met - we decided to take the chance to see if we were destined for each other. I left Australia. First I visited my father in England, then I traveled to Paris, because I would not go to Denmark immediately. It would have been too premature. We wanted more time. When we were together it was so intense, we wanted to introduce a little normality and everyday life in our relationship.
Paris was the next step, then. I would be more protected there. But it was a difficult time for me. In Paris I didn't know many people and I don't function very well in such a large city. Yet another thing I have learned: Paris wasn't my cup of tea. I was there for five months, from February until July 2002. Then we had a short holiday together and I moved to Denmark - in August 2002 - and started my work in September. At that time we both believed in our relationship. There was no uncertainty about it anymore. It was obvious that what we had together was something much bigger, than anything any of us had experienced, ever.
The period between my move to Denmark and the engagement, a little over a year, was a strange period of time. So many people were interested in our relationship. There were these big expectations. Right from the first time somebody discovered me in Australia, it was like: "They are going to get married tomorrow!"
The more my life got exposed, the more difficult it would be to return to Australia. What would I go back to? The more you are in the spotlight, the more difficult it is to withdraw from it.
I didn't want to be exposed in any way. But at a certain point I had to accept it. I had to say to myself: I have to take this step completely. If I hadn't done that, I would have blamed myself for the rest of my life. But we took the step together, both of us."
On the Press :
"I'm from a middle class family, I had a good education, I'm proud of what I have achieved in my life and I know I have so much to achieve still. I'm very, very happy about the challenge I face right now. But it's very overwhelming, especially with so much publicity. It's difficult to see your own face everywhere - I always hated to be photographed. I was the one who said: "I'll take the pictures" at family gatherings and friends' parties. I have to learn to behave in certain ways in public, too. The many norms of behaviour. For instance the way I have to move when I am walking with Frederik.
I'll be critizised. People judge you from a picture and from false information, and that's hard, because you can't defend youself. In the first place because it isn't my nature to do so, and if it was, the press can print whatever they want anyway. So in that way you feel somewhat defenseless. You can't say: "This is actually false!". For instance they printed a picture of my mom, which actually wasn't her! It was horrible.
I've been lucky enough to have a whole year here, making me experience what it feels like to live in Denmark. And the media haven't been equally bad all the time. In the beginning they didn't show much respect, but now it's better. Either you don't read their magazines or you try to establish a relationship with them. Publicity and press are factors we will always have to take into account. But to be exhibited all the time is difficult. Frederik has supported me tremendously in this respect."
On the engagement day:
"Two days before the engagement day I felt tense and nervous. The next day I was like a child before Christmas, hyperactive and full of energy. Then my dad and Susan arrived, and we had a lovely dinner together in the evening. I went to bed and the next day, when I woke up, I was completely calm, which surprised me. I thought: "Today you are going to do it!"
When we stood behind the glass doors of the balcony, I tried to relax and take deep breaths. I felt like I couldn't go out there, it was so overwhelming.
It was the first time I stood next to Frederik in a very official way. And I saw how much the people love their royal family. They cheered at the Queen, Prince Henrik and Frederik, and at me too, because he had chosen me, and we had chosen each other. It was wonderful to see our flags everywhere among the crowd. Everybody was so happy. It was overwhelming just to look out on the large crouds - thousands of people. All these people all around us... it was a very moving moment. I didn't think I could contain it all, so a part of me just kept observing it. Frederik was quite overwhelmed too, and both the Queen and Prince Henrik looked very happy. My father took it quite calmly. It was an incredible experience. And they wanted to see us again and again! A very happy day.
The moment right before going into the big press conference, I felt like I rather wouldn't... quite childish! But there was no escape: I had to do it. We stood there and there was so much light - a sea of light - and so many people there. I had decided that I would be the first to speak. It was a decision I had made myself, perhaps a fortnight before, it was my own idea. Naturally I discussed it with the chief of Court - Per Thornit - and he agreed. There had been a tremendous build-up of expectations in the press, for example that I could speak Danish fluently, but I couldn't. I knew I had to be the one who set the frame for all these expectations. This was the reason why I chose my words the way I did. I waited until it was more quiet in the hall. Until I could sense that there was enough peace and quiet and they would listen. But the first words almost wouldn't come out of my mouth. Later it went better.
The engagement day was such a busy one, we rushed from one thing to another. It was a big day because it was the first time I had to present myself to the Danish people. They had seen pictures of me, but nobody had ever heard me speak. Nobody knew what was going on inside my head, and naturally you are apprehensive about whether people are going to be nice to you. And would I be able to express what I wanted to say? Even if it was a really happy day, it was at the same time difficult to call it a completely free feeling of joy. But we experienced that feeling at other moments. We had a lovely time up to this, which was our very own."
On the proposal and love:
"About a week before Frederik proposed I felt it was going to happen. I didn't know the precise moment of course but when he started to behave somewhat out of character, I knew something was going to happen. It was in Rome. It was wonderful.
My new reality is not foreign to me anymore, but when someone says: "You are going to be the next queen of Denmark," it's so diffcult to imagine. But when I'm with Frederik or the queen I know they're nice, normal people, living in fairytale surroundings.
I have suddenly arrived in a situation which holds a great challenge, and I have to do it step by step. Everything gets bigger. My wedding for example. Before, I had never given any thought to how my wedding would be but I would never have imagined it to be like this!
I always knew that I would only marry if I met the BIG love. My parents knew each other when they were 12 years old. They became a couple when they were 14, and they were only 22 when they got married. Very young. Therefore I knew that the most important thing was unconditional love. Unreserved. And you recognize it when it hits you."
On queen Margrethe:
"Intuitively I knew that the first meeting with the queen had to go well, and I asked myself how I was to handle it. Protocol is quite new to me. It isn't something you normally experience in Australia, it doesn't exist in the same form as in Denmark, where the royal family is very extrovert, thus making everybody know how to behave towards them. In fact Frederik didn't instruct me much before the meeting. He just said: Be yourself.
It was when I was living in Paris, before I moved to Denmark. It was at Amalienborg that I met the queen for the first time. The meeting was private. Let's keep it that way. But she understood our need to keep the developement of our relationship to ourselves.
Had that meeting ended negatively I don't know what we would have done. I could never ask of Frederik to give up his place in the order of succession. He knows his role in life. He has an obligation."
"The press has written that right after I met Frederik, I started on a modelling course (Starmakers), to feel more confident. There wasn't anything calculating or scheming about that. Nothing like: making myself ready to handle the situation. Fact is, when I started on that course I hadn't met him at all!"
On her favorite poem:
How do I love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breath and heigth
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
"This is a poem I learned from my father. I have quoted it in my letters to Frederik. So he knows it and he knows what it means to me. I particularly love the last line, "and, if God choose, I shall but love thee after death." Because it sounds so beautiful and etherical. Furtermore it reaches out from death.
There's another poem which means a lot to me and my family: an English hymn called "Eternal Father". It will be played in church at our wedding. It was my mother's favourite hymn, and one I've always loved. Once I sang in a choir and we sang this hymn in a performance of 'Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat'. It was very beautiful and powerfull and when I suggested it to the chief of court, he told me it was one of QMII's favourite hymns too. It was played at my mother's funeral. And it means a lot to me and my family, that it will be sung at our wedding."
On her grandmother:
"My grandparents lived in Launceston in the north of Tasmania. They had a modest house in the suburbs. When we visited them we slept in the same room, my two sisters, my brother and me. At home we each had our separate rooms, apart from my sister and me, so it was great fun to sleep together.
I vividly remember the day my grandfather died. I remember the grief in my father's voice and I remember crying. I was only six but I could see that my grandmother was so alone. She believed in God and was a spiritual person. And very positive. There was grief but also acceptance.
My relationship with my grandmother was really special, maybe because I was named after her. She treated all of us children individually. We each had our own special place with her, and at the same time we were regarded with the same affection.
She was there when my mother died and she was able to comfort me then, exactly because of her way of thinking, her belief and trust, which I think are rare qualities in the world today.
My grandmother died three years ago. I really miss her very much. (Mary is visibly touched). I'm sorry - I have never really talked about her since, because I was away when she died. It is difficult when you talk about someone who has meant so much in your life, and who is no longer there - I miss her voice and her caring. She used to send me letters and she was the last person I myself wrote letters to. She really means a lot to me, because she was the one person I looked up to. My grandmother taught me that what you give is what you get. She taught me to be proud of who I am.
What I admired most about her was her cheerfulness. Even when she was sad she could always see the positive side. I have a feeling that 'something' is with me, a kind of higher power. My grandmother and the great sorrows in my life have opened me much more to this higher meaning, this positive faith ..."