Their 23-year romance has been dubbed a ‘real-life fairytale’ – yet Princess Mary and Prince Frederik’s relationship made headlines yesterday for less glowing reasons.
Frederik, 55, the heir to the Danish throne, was photographed with reality star Genoveva Casanova, 47, in Madrid last week where they attended an exhibition of the works of Pablo Picasso, without his wife of 19 years.
Publication of the pictures in Spanish magazine Lecturas led the divorcee Mexican socialite to issue a statement ‘categorically’ denying any suggestion the pair are romantically involved, branding it ‘malicious’ and untrue, according to Hola!.
The news broke amid a packed schedule of events for the royal couple during the state visit King Felipe of Spain and his wife Queen Letizia, and will no doubt have been viewed as an unwelcome distraction by Mary, who has scarcely put a foot wrong in her almost two decades as a working royal.
Mary Donaldson, was a 28-year-old advertising executive when she first met Frederik in a packed city pub, the Slip Inn, in Sydney 23 years ago.
She had no idea the handsome European tourist she had been chatting to for hours was actually Crown Prince Frederik, future king of Denmark.
Now, married for 19 years and proud parents to four children, Mary is poised to become the world’s first Australian-born queen and has won her adopted country over by her dedication to royal duty and her fluency in the language.
After the pub encounter, then 32-year-old Fred – who was in Australia to support Denmark’s sailing team at the 2000 Olympics – asked Mary for her phone number and a romance blossomed.
‘The first time we met we shook hands. I didn’t know he was the prince of Denmark. Half an hour later someone came up to me and said, “Do you know who these people are”?’ Mary revealed in an interview about meeting the heir to the Danish throne.
They maintained a long-distance relationship for a year, with Frederik making secret trips Down Under before Mary moved to Denmark to study Danish language at Copenhagen’s Studieskolen in 2001.
In early 2003, Frederik’s mother Queen Margrethe publicly acknowledged the relationship and the couple announced their engagement at Amalienborg Castle later that year on October 8.
Frederik and Mary married on May 14, 2004 at Copenhagen Cathedral, with the newly minted Crown Princess opting for a beautiful gown by Danish designer Uffer Frank and a veil first used by Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden in 1905.
In a nod to her heritage, Mary carried a bouquet of Australian snow gum eucalyptus interspersed with blooms from the Palace garden.
At the altar, Frederik announced: ‘From today, Mary is mine and I am hers. I love her, and I will protect her with all my love.’
Their first child, Prince Christian Valdemar Henri John, was born October 15, 2005; Princess Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe followed on April 21, 2007.
Almost four years later Mary and Frederik welcomed twins, Princess Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda and Prince Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen on January 8, 2011.
Standing on the hospital steps, a beaming Frederik declared: ‘It’s a miracle.’
The family has returned to Mary’s native Australia on many occasions, visiting famous landmarks in Sydney, Canberra and the Northern Territory and even spending Christmas Down Under.
The sporting event which brought them together continues to hold a special place in their hearts, with the couple attending 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.
In October 2019, Mary took one step closer to becoming the first Australian-born queen after she was named regent in a historic move by Queen Margrethe.
The title gives the Princess power to perform duties as head of state when the 80-year-old monarch is overseas or otherwise engaged.
Between raising her children and appearing at diplomatic events, Mary has worked tirelessly to prove her commitment to charity, becoming a patron of more than 25 international organisations since her marriage to Frederik in 2004.
Patronages include the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe and the United Nations Population Fund, where she supports their work to promote maternal health in more than 150 developing nations.
In 2007, the Princess launched The Mary Foundation, a charity focused on stamping out domestic violence, bullying and loneliness.
Meanwhile, according to Hola!, Crown Prince Frederik’s private trip to Spain was to enjoy art exhibitions, watch flamenco and visit new restaurants.
It is believed that he had planned to attend the Picasso exhibition with a mutual friend he shares with Genoveva – however at the last minute, the friend was unable to go and asked Genoveva to attend in his place.
After visiting the exhibition at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, the pair walked through El Retiro Park, before heading to El Corral de la Morería for dinner.
A statement from the socialite said: ‘I categorically deny the statements that suggest a romantic relationship between Prince Frederick and me.’
She added: ‘Any statement of this type not only completely lacks the truth but also misrepresents the facts in a malicious manner.
‘This is already in the hands of my lawyers, who will take care of the pertinent steps to protect my right to honor, truth and privacy.’
Genoveva Casanova is a Mexican-born socialite living in Spain, who has also dabbled in acting over the years – taking a role in Goya’s Ghosts in 2006.
She has appeared on several reality TV shows in Spain including the nation’s version of the Masked Singer, the most recent series of Spanish Celebrity Masterchef and an all-star version of The Chase.
Between 2005 and 2007 she was married to Spanish author Cayetano Martínez de Irujo, and the couple share two children.
He is one of the five sons of the late Duchess of Alba, who was worth an estimated £2.2billion, and was one of Europe’s wealthiest aristocrats and a direct royal descent from King James II of England.
They divorced in 2008 but have maintained a friendy relationship and she’s said that they still speak every day.
After her divorce, Genoveva was linked to Mexican singer Luis Miguel, although the pair never confirmed if they were in a relationship.
She then dated Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, a Senior Policy Adviser with the UNHCR before coupling up with Spain’s former Minister of Justice, José María Michavila after the death of his wife.
Her most recent romance was in 2022 with José Manuel Gayán Pacheco, an agricultural businessman.
Gossip magazines in both Denmark and Australia have published speculation about the state of the royal couple’s marriage over the years, but there is nothing concrete to suggest they are anything but happily married.