In Denmark, a royal engagement for Crown Prince, Australian woman

Wednesday, October 8th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Crown Prince Frederik was engaged to Mary Donaldson, the first Australian-born woman to stand in line to become a European queen, the royal palace said Wednesday.

The couple will be wed May 14 in the capital, Copenhagen.

``Her Majesty and his royal highness Prince (Henrik) have the joy to announce that His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince has been engaged to Miss Mary Elizabeth Donaldson,'' the palace said in a statement.

At a state council meeting at Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen where the royal family lives, Queen Margrethe told the Danish government that her 35-year-old son and heir to the throne of Europe's oldest ruling monarchy would marry Donaldson, a 31-year-old from Hobart, Australia.

Under the Constitution, Denmark's popular 63-year-old monarch and the government must give their formal approval for Frederik to marry. Last month, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his government supported the engagement.

The wedding will be performed by Copenhagen Bishop Svend Norman Svendsen and Royal Chaplain Christian Thodberg. It will take place at the Copenhagen's Lutheran cathedral, Our Lady's Church.

The couple met during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The romance was kept secret for a year. In February 2002, the royal palace finally confirmed that Frederik was dating Donaldson, who worked in advertising, public relations and real estate companies in Australia.

In early 2002, Donaldson moved to Copenhagen and started taking private Danish language lessons. In recent months, she has been learning about the history of this Scandinavian country of 5.3 million.

Before Donaldson can marry Frederik, she must swap her dual citizenship in Australia and Britain to become a Danish citizen and join Denmark's Lutheran Evangelical Church.

Once married, Donaldson will become Crown Princess Mary. Margrethe repeatedly has said she has no plans to step down to let her son assume the throne.

Donaldson's parents, John Dalgleish and Henrietta Clark Donaldson, emigrated from Scotland to Australia in 1963 and became Australian citizens in 1975. Her mother died in 1997 and her father, a professor of mathematics who is currently lecturing at Oxford University in Britain, remarried in 2001 with Susan Moody, a British novelist.

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