Saturday, November 29, 2008

ordinary people

denmark is a monarchy, the oldest in europe, with relatives and descendants in all of the others, including the russian and greek. i've always found that a bit mysterious, after all, the closest we have to royalty in the US is the kennedy family. so, the whole notion of a figurehead who opens the parliament but has no say in government (can't say that of the kennedys) and is guarded by bearskin hat-clad guards seems a bit archaic at best. the queen, who smokes like a friggin' chimney and is married to a french guy who people unfairly say never learned danish, has two sons. both sons have married regular girls (thank goodness for the monarchy which was in serious need of some new blood, if you know what i mean). one of them twice. after all, it's a very modern monarchy with divorces and step moms and former princesses degraded to countesses and such.

when i arrived, more than ten years ago, there was just the one princess (now degraded to countess after divorcing the younger (and extremely creepy) prince and remarrying a hot young filmmaker). she's from hong kong, harvard educated and super chic and smart (always wondered what she saw in creepy inbred joachim, but i digress).  in those days, the crown prince was dating a local pop star and wandering around, seeming a bit lost and like he wasn't all that keen on his role as future king.

then, at a party at the olympics in sydney, the crown prince met a nice australian girl. eventually, she came to denmark and actually worked a microsoft for awhile (apparently so she could get a visa and stay in the country). i worked there at the same time and often saw press lurking outside and had to read all of the warnings on the intranet, asking all of us to be discreet if anyone from the press called. and it got me thinking...

it must be so difficult to go from an ordinary life to the life of a princess. all of the ordinary things you could do yourself before, you probably can't do anymore. you can't go shopping as an ordinary person, someone will be watching everything you even look at. you can't run out to the grocery store in your sweatpants and without makeup. i don't know if they liked to cook before, but i wonder if they are allowed to do that anymore or if they have a whole staff who won't really let them into the kitchen. and then i wonder why i even think about these things.

it's not easy moving to another country, even if you're doing it for great love. and i guess i think about these girls because i can't imagine how it would be with all of the added pressure that the public scrutiny must place on them. they have pressure to learn danish (which isn't easy, i can tell you), pressure to look a certain way, pressure to produce heirs. a whole lifestyle change as well as a cultural change. they give up their citizenship and their religion. it seems like more pressure than i can imagine enduring.

but i most often think of them when i'm doing an ordinary domestic task. cooking, sewing, choosing paint colors, painting a wall or a hanging a picture. if those girls did those things at one time, are they allowed to do them now? do they even want to? i don't really know, but these are the things i ponder as i chop onions, brine my turkey, sew up a quilt or make small clay dolls together with sabin. and i feel happy to live an ordinary life.

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