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Princess Mary and Prince Frederik’s modern fairytale romance

They are celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary!
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It started as a typical Aussie love story – a girl meets a boy in a bar, they fall in love and live happily ever after.

But when 28-year-old Mary Donaldson met Fred during a night out at the Slip Inn in Sydney’s Darling Harbour in September 2000, he turned out to be the heir to Europe’s oldest monarchy.

WATCH BELOW: Relive Princess Mary and Prince Fred’s wedding day

“The first time we met, we shook hands,” Mary, now 49, would later recall to biographer Jens Andersen of the night she met Crown Prince Frederik.

“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?’” she explained.

At the end of the night, the Crown Prince had made enough of an impression for the Tasmanian-born law graduate to hand over her number.

“There was enough of a click that I gave Frederik my telephone number and he rang me the next day,” she explained on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope. “It wasn’t the fireworks in the sky or anything like that, but there was a sense of excitement.”

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Mary and Fredrik announced their engagemnt in October 2003, dating for just under three years after meeting in a Sydney pub. (Credit: Getty)

While Frederik had earned himself the reputation of being a playboy prince by dating models and actresses, it was Mary’s natural look that attracted him.

“[She] has that girl-next-door beauty,” Starmakers transformation coach Teresa Page, who taught Mary etiquette and deportment, tells WHO. “She is very down to earth, authentic and engaging. She didn’t put on any airs and graces.”

Covert dating ensued with Frederik, 52, making several trips to Australia. In an era before everyone was on social media, the pair were able to keep their relationship under wraps for almost a year.

As it became more serious, Mary made the move to France in 2001, taking up a role as an English teacher to be closer to her love. Just months later she was outed as Frederik’s girlfriend in Danish magazine Billed Bladet. A move to Denmark’s capital Copenhagen followed weeks later.

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“It was an absolutely surreal and magical experience,” the princess’s bridesmaid Amber Petty tells WHO of the wedding. (Credit: Getty)

In 2003, while on a romantic vacation to Italy, Frederik dropped to one knee and presented Mary with a stunning emerald-cut diamond ring with two emerald-cut ruby baguettes.

“I thought, ‘This is the moment. Seize the day and get your kneepads on,’” Frederik later explained on Enough Rope.

The couple were married at Copenhagen Cathedral, on May 14, 2004. Mary looked resplendent while walking down the aisle in an ivory duchess satin dress by Danish designer Uffe Frank in front of 428 guests, including friends, family and world leaders.

Delighting the crowd of over 100,000 well-wishers who were lining the streets, the newlyweds rode in a horse-drawn open carriage from the cathedral to the Amalienborg Palace, where they made an appearance on the balcony and kissed before their reception.

“It was an absolutely surreal and magical experience,” the princess’s bridesmaid Amber Petty tells WHO.

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Mary’s transformation into the perfect princess began while she was still in Australia. The Crown Princess took deportment lessons with Starmakers weeks after meeting the Crown Prince. (Credit: Getty)

Despite the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, at its core, the wedding remained very much about two people who had fallen in love. Overcome with emotion, Frederik couldn’t help but shed a tear as he watched Mary walk down the aisle.

“From today, Mary is mine and I am hers,” he said at the altar. “I love her and I will protect her with all my love.”

Afterwards, Frederik whisked Mary off on a surprise honeymoon to Africa, where they could spend some much-needed alone time before she officially took up her role as a working member of the Danish royal family.

“She didn’t know where we were going, and I wanted to go some place where we could … be ourselves, literally, just the two of us,” Frederik told the ABC in 2005.

In the 17 years since her wedding, the Crown Princess has rarely put a foot wrong. While Mary seems to have taken to royal life with relative ease, her transformation into the perfect princess didn’t magically occur as she made her way down the aisle, but it was something she’d been preparing for even while she was in Australia.

Just weeks after her chance meeting with the royal at the pub, Mary enrolled in an intensive Supermodel Skills training course with Starmakers where she would develop the foundational skills which have been pivotal in her success. These included goal setting, talking on camera, image development and walking with grace.

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The couple secured the Danish line of succession when they welcomed their son Prince Christian in October 2005. (Credit: Getty)

“[Mary] told me, ‘Life is passing me by and I want to change my life,’” Page reveals of the day she met the marketing executive.

And Mary certainly succeeded in her goal. “Today, she is a global fashion icon and applauded around the world for her humanitarian work,” Page explains. “She is revered by the people of Denmark. They love her for how much she has given up for them and know she will make a fine queen consort when the time comes.”

By all standards, Mary has excelled in her role. The couple have created a beautiful family – and secured the line of succession – through their four children Prince Christian, 15, Princess Isabella, 14, and 10-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

“We feel very blessed with our four healthy, happy and lovely children,” said Mary in an interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly in 2012.

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Mary started her charity, The Mary Founddation, in 2007 to combat social isolation after she felt “lonley” when she first moved to Denmark. (Credit: Getty)

But where she shines the most is through her work with the Mary Foundation, a program of charity projects that aim to tackle social problems such as bullying, domestic violence and loneliness. It is a role her best friend knows she was made for.

“Mary has always been, by nature, a very kind and curious person in regards to other people’s struggles,” Petty reveals. “It’s something that’s always been there, so I love that my friend can channel this innate side of her into worthy causes.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work Mary does, and also knowing that it’s not just because she should do this kind of work, it’s because she wants to.”

(Click here for more information on courses with Starmakers)

(Click here to purchase Amber Petty’s book This Is Not a Love Song)

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