Friday, August 26, 2011

Princess Marie Opens Tønder Festival

Jutland (Jylland in Danish) is the large, land-locked region of Denmark that juts out from northern Germany. It is an area that includes second-largest city Aarhus with its renowned university (Freddles is an alum); historic churches (Ribe), archaeological finds (Golden Horns), and a UNESCO & national heritage site (Jelling stones); Skagen is where two oceans come together and there is not only a "Danish Hamptons" summer vibe, but an internationally recognised school of art. This is traditionally an area with devout people (as portrayed in the film Babette's Feast). The riches and excess of the eastern part of the country do not exist here even close to the scale of Zealand where Copenhagen is located.

The joke among Danes is that Jutlanders are just not that sophisticated, but naturally, the later twentieth century started changing that. The joke could go like this: in Copenhagen they call it sushi, and in Jutland they call it bait. But the real joke is on those who look down upon Jutland, because this region of Denmark is rich, contemporary and tradition-laded in a way that should make those in the eastern part of Denmark very proud and continue to open their eyes to the offerings of their mainland region.

It is in this spirit that is it very fortunate for Danes that Her Royal Highness Princess Marie, as the wife of the Schackenborg-based Prince Joachim, has a mostly Jutland-based patronage. This may not garner the French-born princess the flash of over-exposure, but it helps to showcase the life and culture of a misunderstood region of Denmark. For a woman who can quote 17th century Dutch-Jewish philosopher Spinoza in an interview, the work must be satisfying. She seems to thrive amongst the friendly, unpretentious people of Jutland who are serious about upholding their traditions and opening them up to outsiders. Opening up to the greater world simultaneously adds an element of vulnerability, which is an unconquerable distraction for some people, but is a welcome character trait in others. Marie and Jutland are a wonderful fit!

Today, Princess Marie opened Tønder Festival, an open-air, roots & folk music festival founded in 1975 in the municipality where Schackenborg Slot is located. Featuring many North American, Celtic & Scandinavian music acts, this is one of the biggest folk music festivals in Europe. Marie even features on the festival website; festival organisers are obviously proud of their protector!

Looking cute, fresh and just casual enough in a blue dress she last wore leaving the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco in July, Marie mingled in a very relaxed, happy and familiar way with the mayor, festival organisers, volunteers and guests. We were even treated to an unrestricted view of the emerging baby bump. Brava, Marie!

A nice, Frenchy greeting with the Mayor of Tønder! See? We can bridge the Danish-French divide!

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