It was the man who had introduced himself simply as Fred that Mary found herself drawn to. After they shook hands, the pair chatted about things they had in common, like a love of horses, sports and adventure.
“I didn’t know he was the prince of Denmark,” Mary later revealed in an interview about meeting the heir to the Danish throne. “Half an hour later someone came up to me and said, ‘Do you know who these people are?’”
A spark had been lit and Mary and Frederik, then aged 32, chatted until late in the night. When they said goodbye, Frederik asked Mary for her phone number. He called the next day, and the romance between the Aussie beauty and the Crown Prince began.
An immediate bond and strong communication proved to be the secret to their connection. “From the first moment we started talking, we never really stopped talking,” she later said. “Everything between us in those early days was through words.”
For Frederik, however, he felt a bond from those first moments. “My first visit to Australia was only two days old when we first met,” he recalled. “It was … a connection, fun and happiness and, slowly but surely, love.”
Over the coming days, as the Sydney Olympics played host to the world, the young lovers slowly got to know each other as Mary showed off the city to her prince. He also had official duties as a main supporter of the Danish Olympic sailing team.
After he had returned home, a long-distance romance blossomed between Mary in Sydney and Frederik in Copenhagen, and he was soon making top-secret trips back to Australia to see her.
A little over a year after meeting, Mary moved to Paris in 2001, then moved to Denmark when their relationship became public. The couple married on May 14, 2004.
Mary and Frederik have continued to celebrate the special role the Olympic Games played in their lives. They have since attended the Olympics in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In 2009, Frederik was appointed to the International Olympic Committee – a role he has had ever since.
But it’s the Sydney Games that will forever hold a special place in their hearts.
On September 16 this year, the couple are sure to raise a glass to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day they met.