From bare feet and flip flops to a wardrobe with over 47 dresses from Prada, Princess Mary of Denmark has successfully re-invented herself. As she takes to the throne as Queen consort this month, the Princess of Wales will be taking notes

Striking power suits by day, glittering ball gowns by night (and a lashing of polka-dots along the way) — so goes the tried-and-tested royal dressing formula, but it is not just one reserved for the Princess of Wales.

This combination has well served the woman who might well be dubbed Kate’s blueprint, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who, following Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s abdication to the throne on 14 January, will become Queen Consort of Denmark as her husband Crown Prince Frederik takes the throne.

The fashion designers love her; Erdem Moralıoğlu has said “she always looks modern and beautifully relaxed” while Tommy Hilfiger has praised her “very sophisticated, European style”. But it is the Princess of Wales who might have been paying the closest attention. The pair share more than a glossy brunette blow out and knack for sartorial-spots, and the years have only cemented their doppelganger status. As the late Karl Lagerfeld put it in 2010: “Kate is like a younger sister to Mary”.

Like Kate, who is 10 years her junior, the Australian-born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson came from non-royal beginnings. When Mary met the Prince of Denmark in 2000, at the Slip Inn pub, Sydney, during the Summer Olympics, the princess-to-be “was a T-shirt-and-shorts girl, known to go barefoot,” as she told the Financial Times in 2022.

In 2003 she hit headlines kissing the prince in public for the first time, wearing baggy, washed out jeans, a low-cut white knit top and flip-flops at the Tasmania Yacht Club. They were quickly banished to the back of the closet. In October that year, she debuted her transformation to royal family ready with her engagement announcement outfit; a light coffee-shade, on-the-knee dress by Danish designer Kenth Fredin. She finished the look with Valentino pumps and, most importantly, the 1.5 carat emerald-cut diamond and double ruby engagement ring (to which she has since added two diamonds). The following year, Danish designer Uffe Frank designed her ivory satin, six-metre-long train wedding gown.

But it was her wedding earrings, by Marianne Dulong, which offered the most insight into Mary’s style secret— the brand was co-founded by her longtime stylist Anja Camilla Alajdi. Alajdi was said to have been “annoyed” at speculation she was using the opportunity to product place her brand, reportedly saying: “They believed that such things hang together like that? The Crown Princess does not of course wear jewellery she does not like, and she goes with all kinds of other brands also. Georg Jensen, Ole Lynggaard Jewels CPH and many others.”

Nevertheless, Alajdi can, in part, be credited with the high-low wardrobe approach Princess Mary has taken on — and the Princess of Wales has since become synonymous with. Mary’s wardrobe statistics, as per Royal Fashion spotting website UFO No More, prove as much: she has at least 34 shirts from Hugo Boss, and 13 Zara, which hang with 18 Prada shirts and 47 dresses from the Italian fashion house in her closet. Step inside the former Duchess of Cambridge’s, and expect to find H&M or Zara suits alongside the many from Alexander McQueen.
Despite leaning into high street purchases, Princess Mary maintains a keen interest in sustainability; certainly when it comes to style decisions. She is a patron of the Global Fashion Agenda, the Copenhagen-based NGO “with the ultimate vision of a net positive fashion industry for people and the planet.” She first began working with it in 2009, and is a regular speaker at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Speaking in 2021, she doubled down on her support of re-wearing and buying second-hand, saying: “If you look at the way we are consuming fashion today, we are seeing a much greater market for second hand, for recycled, upcycled… this is another value, because it tells a history of the product – who’s worn it before, where’s it been, what’s its journey.”
Although, while she has been praised for this green work, the royal was with slapped with criticism in 2016 after the family Christmas stamp featured some members of her family — including some of her four children with Prince Frederik — wearing seal fur. PETA condemned them of “supporting [of] the horrific fur industry,” and said “we’ve sent Crown Princess Mary a warm faux-fur scarf.”
As the countdown to her new role ticks on, the the question is whether Princess Mary will shift her style in accordance once again. On New Year’s Eve, attending a banquet at Amalienborg Castle, Copenhagen, she certainly piled on the glamour in her first public outing since the announcement, wearing a billowing, burgundy Birgit Hallstein gown. Whatever she wears — be sure the Princess of Wales will be taking note.

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