Mary and Fred 20 years on: A look back at the day they met

It’s been two decades since their first encounter at a Sydney pub
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On September 16 2000, as the world had its eyes fixed on the sporting events at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, history was being made across town in a city pub.

WATCH: Mary and Frederik’s love story

Tasmanian-born advertising executive Mary Donaldson, then 28, was at the Slip Inn with a girlfriend when they began chatting with a group of European men. The playful topic of conversation was whether or not a man was attractive with a hairy chest.

Three of the men cheekily offered to show off their various attributes, but what Mary did not know was that they were Princes Frederik and Joachim of Denmark, and their cousin, Prince Nikolaos of Greece.

Mary and Frederik
Mary (left) didn’t realise she was speaking to a Danish prince, when she met Fred (right) in 2000. (Credit: Getty)

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.”

Mary and Frederik
Mary (left) found herself drawn to Fred (right) during their random first encounter. (Credit: Supplied)

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.

Mary and Frederik
Mary met her prince charming at the Slip Inn (pictured) in Sydney. (Credit: Getty)

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.

September 16th 2020 marked the day the couple first met 20 years ago. We’re sure the couple raised a glass and toasted a love that has only grown stronger over the past two decades.

Mary and Frederik
On September 16th 2020, Mary (left) and Fred (right) celebrated 20 years since they met. (Credit: Supplied)

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