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The regal meaning behind Queen Mary's coronation dress

copenhagen, denmark january 14 danish king frederik x and wife queen mary of denmark after their proclamation by the prime minister, mette frederiksen on the balcony of christiansborg palace on january 14, 2024 in copenhagen, denmark her majesty queen margrethe ii steps down as queen of denmark and and entrusts the danish throne to his royal highness the crown prince, who becomes his majesty king frederik x and head of state of denmark photo by samir husseinwireimage
Everything you need to know about Queen MarySamir Hussein - Getty Images

On 14 January, Mary, and her husband Prince Frederik of Denmark, were confirmed as the nation's new queen consort and king at a fabulous coronation ceremony, which echoed King Charles' own coronation in glamour and style. The event came just weeks after the surprise abdication of Queen Margrethe II, who ruled Denmark for 51 years, and exactly two decades after Mary and Frederik wed.

Mary has always been known for her elegant style, and has often drawn comparisons with Kate, the Princess of Wales. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the outfit she chose for her coronation was suitably beautiful, and imbued with sentimental meaning.

Here's what we know about her coronation look, as well as her history as a princess, her future as queen consort and her friendship with the British royal family.

Who designed Queen Mary's coronation outfit?

copenhagen, denmark january 14 danish king frederik x and wife queen mary of denmark after their proclamation by the prime minister, mette frederiksen on the balcony of christiansborg palace on january 14, 2024 in copenhagen, denmark her majesty queen margrethe ii steps down as queen of denmark and and entrusts the danish throne to his royal highness the crown prince, who becomes his majesty king frederik x and head of state of denmark photo by samir husseinwireimage
Queen Mary of Denmark with her husband, King Frederik XSamir Hussein - Getty Images

Appearing on the balcony with her husband at Copenhagen’s Christiansborg Palace before the cheering crowds, Mary looked ethereal in a white dress by 35-year-old Danish designer Soeren Le Schmidt.

The dress featured a mock shawl detail across a long-sleeved fit-and-flare dress, one of Mary's favourite silhouettes. The dress featured a tea-length hem, gentle pleating throughout the skirt, a shawl which fell into a dramatic over-the-shoulder train, and a belt featuring an ornate brooch.

It's not the first time Mary has worn Le Schmidt's designs – she chose a purple dress of his for the coronation of King Charles in May last year.

dignitaries and members of the royal family arrive at westminster abbey to attend the king's coronation on 6th may 2023 in london, uk
Mary wearing a Soeren Le Schmidt design at King Charles’ coronation in 2023Karwai Tang - Getty Images

Are there any secret meanings behind the look?

It's not uncommon to wear white to a coronation – just look at the Princess of Wales, who donned a floor-length ivory gown designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen to her father-in-law's coronation ceremony.

Mary also incorporated touches of red into her look (perhaps to represent the other colour in the Danish flag) via her jewellery, which featured a brooch – worn at the waist – and earrings from the Danish Ruby Parure.

Adding a sentimental touch, she also wore another brooch: an ordensportrættet, which features an illustration of Queen Margrethe II, Mary's mother-in-law, surrounded by pearls and diamonds.

copenhagen, denmark january 14 queen mary of denmark at the proclamation of king frederik x on january 14, 2024 in copenhagen, denmark her majesty queen margrethe ii steps down as queen of denmark and and entrusts the danish throne to his royal highness the crown prince, who becomes his majesty king frederik x and head of state of denmark photo by patrick van katwijkgetty images
Queen Mary in her ethereal, white coronation lookPatrick van Katwijk - Getty Images

Why did Queen Margrethe abdicate?

King Frederik X's mother, Queen Margrethe II, formally signed her abdication on 14 January, ending her 52-year reign as the country’s longest-serving monarch and becoming the first in nearly 900 years of Danish history to abdicate voluntarily.

queen margrethe ii of denmark gives a new year's speech from christian ix's palace, amalienborg castle, in copenhagen, denmark, on december 31, 2023, announcing her upcoming abdication denmark's queen margrethe ii announced in her traditional new year's address that she would be abdicating on january 14, 2024 after 52 years on the throne photo by keld navntoft ritzau scanpix afp denmark out
Queen Margrethe giving her new year’s speech on 31 December 2023, in which she announced her abdicationKELD NAVNTOFT - Getty Images

The former Queen, who had previously said she would remain on the throne for life, made the surprise announcement in her New Year's Eve speech, and didn't give an explicit reason – though she did say that the back surgery she underwent in February last year had led her to consider her future.

According to protocol, there was no coronation ceremony: Denmark has not had once since the introduction of the constitution in 1849. Instead, the succession officially took place at Christiansborg Palace.

Who is Queen Mary?

london, united kingdom may 05 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time crown princess mary of denmark attends a reception at buckingham palace for overseas guests ahead of the coronation of king charles iii and queen camilla on may 5, 2023 in london, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Mary, pictured before the coronation of King Charles III in 2023Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

The new Danish queen was born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson on 5 February 1972 at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Battery Point, Hobart – the capital city of Tasmania in Australia. She went on to have a successful career in advertising and marketing communications, before she met her future husband: Crown Prince Frederik.

The pair first met in 2000, when they came across each other at the Slip Inn pub in Sydney, where the prince was visiting with his brother, Prince Joachim, and other members of European nobility during the 2000 Summer Olympics. At the time, Mary was working at real estate firm Belle Property as a sales director. They were reportedly introduced by mutual friend Prince Felipe of Spain, who knew the sister of Mary’s flatmate.

copenhagen, denmark may 14 crown princess mary and crown prince frederik of denmark wave from the balcony of christian vii's palace after their wedding may 14, 2004 in copenhagen, denmark the romance began in 2000 when mary donaldson met the heir to one of europe's oldest monarchies over drinks at the sydney olympics, where he was with the danish sailing team photo by ian waldiegetty images local caption crown princess marycrown prince frederik
The wedding of Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson in 2004Ian Waldie - Getty Images

Frederik and Mary began a long distance relationship shortly after their first meeting, with Frederik making discreet visits to Australia. The couple were able to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, until Danish weekly magazine Billed Bladet named Mary as Frederik’s girlfriend.

On 24 September 2003, the Danish court announced that Queen Margrethe II intended to give her consent to their marriage and, in October that year, Frederik and Mary became officially engaged. He reportedly proposed with an engagement ring that featured a one and a half carat emerald-cut diamond and two emerald-cut rubies, referencing the colour of Denmark’s flag.

Their wedding took place on 14 May 2004 at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, the city’s cathedral. Upon their wedding day, Mary was given the title of Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark, and the couple now have four children.

Is Queen Mary friends with the Princess of Wales?

copenhagen, denmark february 23 catherine, duchess of cambridge and mary, crown princess of denmark attend christian ix's palace on february 23, 2022 in copenhagen, denmark the duchess of cambridge visits copenhagen between 22nd and 23rd february on a working visit with the royal foundation centre for early childhood photo by chris jacksongetty images
Mary and Kate pictured together in Copenhagen in 2022CHRIS Jackson GETTY IMAGES - Getty Images

Like Mary, the current Princess of Wales was also a so-called 'commoner' before she married into the royal family. Both are known for their timeless, elegant style, and favour the same designers, such as Emilia Wickstead, Erdem and Jenny Packham; they have even worn the exact same dresses on several occasions. They are so like each other, in fact, that the late Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld even dubbed the pair 'royal sisters'.

Kate and Mary also have similar interests: Mary established her own foundation to improve the lives of vulnerable women and children in 2007; while Kate launched the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2021, which focuses on the impact of the early years on later life.

It's makes sense, therefore, that there is understood to be a bond between Kate and Mary. And that's not where their likenesses end: while William and Kate were rocked by the dramatic departure of Harry and Meghan from royal life, Mary too has a tense relationship with her in-laws.

King Frederik's brother, Joachim, married second wife Marie Cavallier in 2008, and Marie gave several interviews to glossy Danish magazines, spilling royal secrets. Joachim and Marie have, just like Meghan and Harry, moved abroad to the US, and are now settled in Washington DC.

Given the similarities between Kate and Mary, we can surely expect these two royal powerhouses to continue to support each other throughout their next stages of public life.

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