The cancellation of the celebrations was not an option; it is one of those moments in which it must be possible to show that happiness is possible, that things can, indeed, get better, get brighter, get sublime. As such… a dream…! Undeniably that would be a perfect description for the celebrations, a dream in times of despair and worry. Ten days of celebrations worthy of a tale of Hans Christian Andersen… all done with impeccable taste and glamour, extraordinary glitter and amazing simplicity to match, a matchless combination of lavishness and popularity…
The festivities held in connection with the wedding actually began on Thursday, the 25th of May, when Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat landed at Copenhagen Airport and was welcomed by his fiancée, Princess Margrethe. The Princess had her Volvo right next to the plane, and drove her fiancé home. The very next day took place the very first pre-wedding party. At Fredensborg, everyone involved in arranging the wedding were guests of the Royal Family for a reception. About 200 persons - mostly personal from the royal palaces & stables – were invited to mingle with the royal couple and the Royal Family and, during the reception, children from Zahle's School (where the Princesses had been pupils) held a performance.
On Monday, the 29th of May the couple was in the Sportspark in Copenhagen for what would perhaps be their most unofficial engagement before the wedding. There they witnessed a football match between the Danish team and FC Bordeaux, which was won by the Danes. Representatives of 53 Copenhagen teams and sports clubs were presented to the couple as well.
Under the sun of the 30th of May, Count Henri's family, the Monpezats, arrived at Fredensborg, having driven all the way from France and having stopped at another royal residence, Gråsten, first. The family had taken time to see the country in which their relative would be living from that month on. The official wedding celebrations began precisely on the evening of the 30th May with a gala banquet held by TM The King and Queen of Denmark in honour of the Diplomatic Corps, to which their son-in-law to be had belonged until weeks before. The event took place at Fredensborg Palace, the favourite country residence of the Danish Royal Family, just outside the capital.
104 members of the Diplomatic Corps, from about 60 different countries were received by the Danish Royal Family in the usual splendour of the Danish Court. HM Queen Ingrid was dressed in ivory-coloured silk, Princess Margrethe in white with a turquoise top and Princess Benedikte in blue-green. Also present were Prince Knud and Princess Caroline-Mathilde, Prince Gorm, Princess Elisabeth, Prince Ingolf, Prince Viggo, Prince Georg and Princess Anne, Princess Margaretha of Denmark, Princess Margrethe of Bourbon-Parma, Count Oluf of Rosenborg and Countess Dorrit, Count Christian of Rosenborg and Countess Karin. The Danish Government was represented by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Jens Otto Krag – accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Helle Virkner Krag –, and Minister Hans Sølvhøj, who would later become Count Marshall. The Royal Lifeguard played during the gala banquet.
On Wednesday, the 31st May, the Royal Theatre of Copenhagen was inviting for a Special Performance in honour of HRH Princess Margrethe and Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat. The King and Queen graciously lent the Royal Box to the young couple, something that had never been done before. A totally new and ultra-modern ballet was to be shown: “Ballet Royal”, which caused great enthusiasm amongst guests and royals. Because it was a Special Performance and not a Gala Performance, although the Royal Family invited a certain number of guests, the rest of the seats was sold in the normal way, just much quicker, with people queuing to buy tickets up to two days before those began being sold!
A crowd gathered that evening outside the Royal Theatre and the public watched as the royal cars drove by and let the members of the Royal Family enter the building, which had two large Dannebrog – the Danish flag – and one Tricolour – the French flag – in the middle hanging from the flagpoles. In the middle of the balcony a white crown made and the couple’s monograms to each side. The couple was last to arrive, Princess Margrethe wearing a low-cut, dark blue dress, with just a beautiful brooch in the middle of the décolleté and 3-strand-of-pearls necklace. Although it was a white tie gala, no tiaras were required for ladies. Queen Ingrid was also wearing a turquoise dress with a large brooch on the shoulder, a leaf in brilliants and white gold and a diamond necklace.
Before entering to the Royal Box, the couple appeared on the balcony of the Theatre to be cheered by the crowd that had gathered and had been patiently waiting for them to arrive. On their entrance to the Theatre they were given a long applause before the Danish National Anthem was played and the show began. Much of the crowd was still waiting when the couple finally left.
The 1st of June was the first day-off for the young couple since the start of their wedding celebrations, but it was not a quiet day in any case. Both the bride-to-be and her mother, Queen Ingrid, were busy that day at Fredensborg, as they witnessed how the huge party-tent took shape in the gardens of the Palace and also how huge specially-designed chandeliers were put into place. The Queen and the Princess had, in fact, been responsible for designing the chandeliers. In the morning hours of Friday, the 2nd of June, the couple took time to receive gifts from various sources, one of which the one from the President of Iceland, two riding Icelandic horses.
In the evening took place one of the most glittering evenings of the celebrations, in Christiansborg Palace, when the Government of the Kingdom and all Members of the Danish Parliament were invited to join the Royal Family for a state banquet. Things were held differently from usual though, not a large table for all distinguished guests or a buffet, this time there were 53 round tables, each holding 8 persons, so that everyone could feel just as important as the others! HRH Princess Margrethe wore a splendid orange dress and a magnificent set of sapphires around her neck, while on her head stood the Baden Palmette Tiara.
Her sister, HRH Princess Benedikte, who was accompanied by her fiancé, HSH Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, wore a bright dress and her own Floral Tiara. The following day was a bit their own evening… on Saturday, the 3rd of June took place the engagement party of Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard at Fredensborg Palace, although their engagement had been announced back in March. The King and Queen invited around 200 friends of the newly engaged couple, who were treated to supper and then a dance party. Before that, though, TM The King and Queen posed with their two daughters and their fiancés outside the Palace.
The dark shadow of war fell over the festivities, when, after days of enormous tension, war broke in the Middle-East on the 5th of June, the Danish National Day. The Royal Family held a small family-council to discuss what to do, but rightfully decided that life goes on and everything should go according to plan. As such, the members of the Royal Family met at Holmens Church for a rehearsal of the wedding ceremony. The next big gala banquet took place at Fredensborg Palace for all the High Officials and all Lord Mayors on the 6th of June.
Perhaps the most brilliant evening of the pre-wedding celebrations, a magnificent gala banquet, followed by a reception and ball, was hosted by the French Ambassador, Jean Sebilleau, and Madame Sebilleau, on Wednesday, the 7th June, at the French Embassy, at the beautiful and old Thott Palace at Kongens Nytorv. All the glamour of Paris seemed to be mixed with all the Danish splendour and glory, as the glamorous Queen of Denmark arrived in glorious red dress and wearing her magnificent diamond and ruby parure, followed by her beautiful daughter and bride-to-be, Princess Margrethe, who wore a most stunning embroidered white dress, by Balmain. King Frederik IX, in impeccable white tie, wore the red sash of the Legion d’Honneur and the diamond badge of Knight Commander of the Dannebrog around his neck.
The dinner, for only 24 people (the members of the Royal Family, the Monpezat Family, the Ambassador and the wife of French Minister Fouchet), took place in an intimate and relaxed mood, in the main room of the Embassy, while more than 700 guests arrived for the ball that was held afterwards, in a Pavilion specially built in the courtyard of the palace. The glittering ball, one of the social events of the year, was opened by King Frederik IX and the Ambassadress and the Ambassador and Queen Ingrid. They were followed by Princess Margrethe and Count Henri and Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard. The King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family and the Monpezat family regained the Embassy after mingling with the guests for some 45 minutes, while the two Princesses continued to dance and mingle with all the guests, in a most joyous atmosphere. Their Majesties left around midnight thirty, and their daughters around one hour later, but the ball and the buffet reception went on until at least 4 am!
The following day, the 8th of June, royal guests started arriving at the Airport, where Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard welcomed most of them. A very special guest was Princess Margrethe’s grandfather, HM The King of Sweden, who travelled by car from across the Sound, while his daughter-in-law, HRH Princess Sibylla, arrived with her children, HRH Prince Carl Gustav and HRH Princess Christina of Sweden. Fredensborg Palace was yet again the scene for a pre-wedding celebration, this time an informal dinner for all the guests to meet and enjoy each other’s company.
Finally, on the eve of the wedding, the 9th of June, the royal couple was invited to Copenhagen Town Hall for large reception. The end of the hostilities in the Middle East brought a renewed smile to the royal faces and a lot more of enthusiasm, displayed by the immense crowd gathered in Town Hall Square. The royal guests who were already in Copenhagen were also invited to the reception in the Town Hall, including King Gustav VI Adolf and Princess Sibylla, King Olav V of Norway, TRH The Prince and Princess of the Asturias, among others.
Wearing a colourful and bright blue and yellow dress and a big yellow hat, Princess Margrethe waved graciously to the thousands of people gathered, as she arrived with her future husband. The couple received their gift from the City of Copenhagen during the reception, tableware for 48 persons, made at the famous Royal Copenhagen Factory. Before leaving, the couple appeared on the balcony of the Town Hall, from which hang a large Dannebrog. They were insistently cheered by the large thousands gathered.
Afterwards, the couple drove from the Town Hall to the Langelinie Pavillion, one of the best restaurants of the city, where a huge cold buffet was waiting for them. It was the day of the homage of the Navy, in a country profoundly marked by sea traditions and whose King was a devoted marine. As such, after the buffet, the royal couple went in the small royal boat and were met by salutes from the Navy and several cruise ships in the famous harbour of Copenhagen, in the middle of which was the Royal Yacht Dannebrog. Their small boat was flanked by four others which took more than 500 members of the press, included as such in this, perhaps the biggest naval parade ever held in Denmark. The review of the fleet went on perfectly, with salutes and the traditional three hurray from the crews of each ship. Not only the Danish Fleet was present but also Swedish and Norwegian ships were saluting the couple. Meanwhile, 35 planes of the Danish Air Force made a fly past, forming the initials of the royal couple’s name. A magnificent success in a very sunny Copenhagen afternoon.