Phil said, “It would be impossible for her to travel down under or for her family to leave Australia in the current crisis.
“I’m sure that Mary is heartbroken that she can’t see her family this Christmas.”
It’s a sad end to what’s been a challenging year for the Danish royal family. As the coronavirus spread through Europe, Mary and Frederik were forced to cut short their stay in Switzerland, where their children were enrolled in a 12-week program at an international school.
Denmark’s planned nationwide celebrations to mark Queen Margrethe’s 80th birthday were then cancelled. The royals other scheduled engagements and tours were also canned and they limited most of their activities to virtual meetings, while the children were homeschooled.
Then, in July, Prince Joachim was rushed to hospital in the South of France for emergency brain surgery after suffering a blood clot.
“It’s been a difficult year for Mary and particularly her husband, Frederik,” Phil adds.
While Mary’s father, John Donaldson, is now based in Europe, her sisters, Jane and Patricia, live in Tasmania; her brother, John, is Perth-based.
Phil says, “I’m told she is in constant contact by Zoom and FaceTime of course, but it’s never quite the same as hugging loved ones.”
But, the royal author points out, Mary’s enduring what so many others are going through during this difficult time.
He explains, “The pandemic is a great leveller and being rich or a royal doesn’t protect you from its impact. In that sense, Mary’s like millions of other people who are separated from loved ones in these strange times.”
But with Joachim recovering from his worrying health crisis, the Danish royals will hopefully be able to reconvene and spend Christmas together.
Since Queen Margrethe ascended to the throne in 1972, they have gathered at Marselisborg Palace, in Aarhus, north-west of Copenhagen, for the festive celebrations. Traditionally Margrethe travels there on December 20 aboard the royal train carriage.
Usually both sons attend with their families, and as Prince Joachim’s son’s from his first marriage – Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix – spent Christmas with their mother last year, it’s likely they’ll want to be with their recently recuperated dad this year.
“Thankfully Joachim is on the mend and I’m sure the brothers will want to spend Christmas together with their mother Queen Margrethe, if it’s at all possible,” says Phil.
“Mary will want to support them – but the fact the Danish royal family will all be together will emphasise the distance between her and her blood family.”
While there, Mary will no doubt put on a brave face and take part in all the Danish royal traditions that she’s come to embrace and enjoy.
Although some, such as visiting Aarhus Cathedral on Christmas Eve and morning and attending Christmas concerts and parties, may well not even go ahead this year.
It will be a very different Christmas to the one she and Frederik and their children enjoyed in 2017, which they spent in Tasmania as well as visiting Sydney. But this enforced separation means any future reunion between Mary and her Australian family will be even more eagerly awaited and precious.
Phil concludes, “It will make it all the more sweeter.”