Here is a translation of some of the questions and answers from the recent interview with Countess Alexandra in Danish fashion magazine: Costume. Not everything has been translated, but I tried to incorporate a variety of the subject she talked about.
If you have the possibility to pick up the magazine, and can read Danish, I recommend doing so. The pictures inside are a lot less photo-shopped than the cover is, that is for sure.
“Are there any common lines in the work you’ve chosen to engage in?”
A: What is very close to me, is what has to do with children. With weak or older people and those who are a bit more vulnerable. And I like putting my mark on culture, and am therefore the protector of Arken (the Danish Museum of Modern art). Every time I’ve opened an exhibition there, something has moved me. Art isn’t necessarily something you like. It is important that it provokes and opens your world. “
“Do you have any advice for those who wish to work with charities, but aren’t public personas like yourself, and therefore have to go to it differently?”
I’m often asked, “I have so much surplus energy, what can I do?” and I have to say that you have to start in your self and ask “what moves something in my heart or my head?” And from there, you get in touch with an organization that helps children who’re victims of violence, exposed children, HIV/AIDS contaminees, other ill people or do something connected with culture – anything – and ask if they need help to put focus on their cause, and if you can contribute with free hours after work, or help in another way. It is simply to pick up the phone. But it is also important to start from home, so you don’t just talk about it, but also act on it. To teach your children that there are others who’re less privileged. Without showing them too much; it is not necessary.”
“How is a regular day for you?”
Most days are different. But what is routine in my days are the children. To help them with homework, and to drive them to and from activities. I also pick them up at school mostly every day, when I can.”
“You have chosen to engage in corporate boards, and are on the board of Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Why have you chosen that?”
I have always been interested in corporate life. From before I came to Denmark and now.
“Have you experienced that your earlier existence as a princess has closed or opened doors for you in the corporate environment?”
It hasn’t opened or closed doors for me. It is rather a constant development, as I view as my journey through life. I have always wished that I could work a bit more with the corporate side of things, so I am focusing more on it now. My life has changed to such a degree that I am freer to focus on it. The other way around, other things in my life hasn’t changed. But it is, of course, easier for me now to have a form of work life, ie. in the shape of board memberships.
“Could you imagine having a regular work life again?”
I love my protections so much, and support the organizations as much as possible. If I can combine it with more in the corporate sphere, it would be great.
“Even if you don’t have what I would call regular work, do you also find that it can be difficult to find time with your family?”
Well, we can experience it. But because I know well in advance how my weeks will be, we can plan. I can give my husband plenty of time to know when he has to plan to pick up the children, and if he hasn’t the time, he can make sure that our back-country can. But I can see that the image can collapse with a regular job where a meeting suddenly appears late in the day.
“It sounds like planning is important to you?”
Then everybody knows what they’re standing for. Then I know what my responsibility is for that day and week, and my husband knows. But I’m not a perfectionist. Everything can’t be perfect, and it is important to show your children that you can also forget or make mistakes, and it is okay.
“In the interview on DR in November, you talked about the 40s being the new 30s. It was a funny clip, where you said the 30s are the new 40s. But how does it show in your life that the 40s are the new 30s?”
*Alexandra laughs* Yes, I’m happy that was included in the interview, because it has been important to me to point out that I didn’t get the questions beforehand, and that the interview wasn’t planned, just as I haven’t received the questions for this interview. But, yes, the 30s are the new 40s– oh, I’m making the same mistake again. But, it has become clear in several ways, that I keep forgetting how old I am. I have a friend in the beginning of her 30s, and just the other day, I said to her – “It is sort of like someone our age.” And it shows that I think I’m still living out my 30s. You’re as old as you want to be, or as young, for that matter. A couple of years ago, my oldest son were reminding me just exactly how old I was. I was at a gettogether where we all had to introduce ourselves, and I said I was 42. Then I came home, we sat and had dinner, and everybody told something of their day. When it was my turn, I said I’d said I was 42, and then my oldest son said: “But Mammy, you’re really 43.” I replied: “Stop it, I’m 42.” But I had to do some quick counting, and he was right. In another situation, I was asked by some young girls how old I was, and before I had the time to reply, my youngest son said: “Oh, everybody knows, she’s 20 years old.” So, the years… I’m completely done caring about my age.”
“If you’d met yourself as a 20-something, while you were still living in Hong Kong, and had told your younger self that you would be a princess, divorced and live in Denmark, how do you think you would have reacted?”
But my younger I would have said: “Oh my God, how exciting, let it come, but it sounds crazily exhausting.” It hasn’t been. It has been a natural development, and I have always been very good about living in the now.
“Could you imagine how your life would have been if you hadn’t come to Denmark?”
Oh, I haven’t thought about it. I am Danish now. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Now it has stopped, but before, somebody would ask: “When are you going home to Hong Kong.” And I would reply: “Home? My home is here.” I don’t miss anything from Hong Kong. Well, yes, my sister, who lives there. And Hong Kong is so beautiful when I see pictures from there, for example from the seaside, I can have a little sigh in my heart – think about the sights and smells… But if I don’t think about it, I don’t miss it. Now, that I’ve become Danish, I’ve also become good at understanding the Danish coziness. We light candles in the winter here, light up in the fireplace and enjoy it together. I don’t mind the dark evenings anymore.
“There is a lot of focus on what a younger person can learn from an older one. But is there anything you learn from him [your husband]?”
My husband is my best sparring partner. I go over everything with him. It is so nice to have someone else listen to things, and either have it confirmed or to have something pointed out that I hadn’t thought about.
“Does your husband do things sometimes where you think: “No, okay, I can see that he’s not as old as me?””
Yes, maybe, but I’m not telling… the other way around, I would say that he’s the best extra father the children could have. He’s taken that task to heart with very much maturity. He did win, at a very early stage, the children’s love and loyalty. They love him, and he loves them. And I find it very adult in itself, to take on that responsibility.
“What can make you angry?”
When I can’t say anything in return. When there are things being made up, that are so remote from me, and I’m even angrier if it includes my family.”
“I assume, you’re talking about the tabloids, which have a large interest in your personal life?”
It is a balance, which can be good. Of course it is nice to have them talking about the things I have focus on, and represent. It is when the balance disappears, it becomes worse. I learned a long time ago to try not to take it personally. I don’t read everything, because what I don’t know, can’t hurt me. It eases things to a certain degree. I have more difficulties with the thought that my children are growing older, and some day can read a lot of the… filth that is being written. But a lot can be done by giving them a proper foundation. To explain to them, from a young age, that it will be a part of their lives. What is hard is when things are written abroad. My mother can sometimes read things which makes her upset, and I’m not there to comfort her. She’s in a dilemma, because she doesn’t want to make me upset by calling and telling me. But there have been situations, where she has had to call me and ask: “Is this right? Because if it is, it is horrible, and I would like to know.” It hasn’t been, but she has had to know for certain.
“Is there anything in your life you opt out of, because of the media?”
As I have said before: supermarket shopping. Not so much being at the check-out, but there would be a bit too much focus on what I buy, and which brands. It’s just easier to not do it. And sometimes, if it is a public place has a bit too many people, it may be easier to stay at home and put my feet up, if you’re more in the mood to do that, rather than go somewhere and get gawked at. But I wish to say that we’ve always been well received. People greet us, and there have never been an inappropriate situation. But isn’t always, when we are in a public place, that I can speak freely, because I wonder if people are listening more to me than other people’s conversations. And in these cell phone times, where everyone has a camera, I’m alert to where I can sit in private. What I find obscene, are those – fortunately few – who wants to earn money on it. But I don’t think my friends discover it, because when I’m out with them and spot a camera they’re going: “Stop it, how could you see that?”
“Is there something you’re extra worried about as your sons are princes than you wouldn’t otherwise have been doing?”
As a mother, it isn’t always nice that everybody knows who your children are. But I have to say, I feel that the Danes have a great pride in them, so regarding that, I am not worried. I think that we at home give them the best foundation so that they’re happy, safe and healthy.
“Is there any difference in your and your former husband’s way of raising children?”
No. We have been, and are still united on that subject. And that is very good.
“You and Prince Joachim did take a large decision, when you decided to get a divorce, because the decision didn’t just influence you, but also many people in Denmark. What thoughts did you consider?”
We felt that we went through the process together. That we had tried it all, and I would like to say that it was a mutual choice we took. It’s not one of us, that have felt further along in the process than the other. And that has helped us in the time after. Because we wanted the same thing, we can be friends now.
“What are your thoughts on Prince Joachim’s new marriage?”
We’ve never been jealous of each other afterwards. I have always wished him the best, and he has always wished me the best. So after we decided to not be together, I am happy that he has found someone he wishes to share his life with. And the other way around, I can see that he is happy for me.
“How does Princess Marie play a role in your sons’ life – is it the same way that Martin does?”
We talk a lot about Joachim and Marie, they are in our lives and of course a part of the children’s lives – among other things, they go on holidays together. But, considering that the children live with us in the everyday situations, it is something different.