Father, farmer, polyglot, patron, daring race-car driver, dutiful son of Denmark, tank squadron commander, TV voiceover provider – no, not the wedding vows in ‘Game of Thrones’ but the multiple strings to the bow of Prince Joachim’s extraordinary life, which now spans five whole decades following his 50th birthday on June 6.
Just one year and 12 days younger than his brother Crown Prince Frederik, His Royal Highness Joachim Holger Waldemar Christian, Prince of Denmark, Count of Monpezat – who is sixth in line to the Danish throne (and around 220th to the British!) – can look back with pride on a half-century of propriety, prolificacy and passionate endeavour.
Although not quite as large-scale as the celebrations of his brother’s 50th birthday last year, June has been a lively month full of tributes to the prince, including a special charity concert at Bellevue Teater on June 7, which was open to the public, and a special banquet hosted by his mother, the queen, at Amalienborg.
A difficult role
Like his brother, he has given his mother four grandchildren – Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix with his first wife Alexandra, and Prince Henry and Princess Athena with his current partner, Princess Marie – and years of service to his nation.
Unlike his brother, the heir to the Danish throne, his role has not always been as well defined. For many years, he was second in line to the throne – a job that cynics the world over like to label the‘just-in-case spare’, even though on occasion Joachim was the de facto ruler of Denmark when his mother and brother were abroad.
The confusion over his role has often led to criticism, and at times it has been harsh – normally the result of misunderstanding and his perceived inability to connect with people in the effortless manner of his brother.
But with his brother’s children fast approaching adulthood, his public persona’s visibility, duties and overall importance will diminish, allowing his private persona the freedom to emerge from behind the facade and blossom.
Soldiering and farming
After seeing out his formative years at the prestigious private school Krebs, Joachim boarded in France for his mid-teen after-school sojourn before completing his education at a gymnasium in Hellerup in 1986.
He spent most of his gap year on a farm in Wagga Wagga in Australia, before going on to distinguish himself in the Danish military, joining the Queen’s Life Regiment in 1987. A year later he was appointed to the role of sergeant before moving up through the officer ranks to the position of platoon commander of a tank squadron and then captain.
After leaving the army, he studied agricultural economics from 1991 to 1993, at which point he began to cultivate the land of Schackenborg, an estate and castle he inherited in 1978. Meanwhile, a brief career with Maersk between 1993 and 1995 took him overseas to work in Hong Kong and France.
Since then he has divided his time between his royal duties, raising his children, his military career and Schackenborg – which he eventually handed over to a foundation in 2014, of which he is the patron.
He is also the patron of many other good causes and organisations, including the Danish Rugby Union and the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix,in which he competes every year without fail.
Bright prospects ahead
Later this year, Prince Joachim is returning to France, the land of his father, to study military leadership education at the prestigious Ecole Militaire as a guest of the country’s defence minister.
The studies will advance credentials that have seen him work for Danish Defence as a special consultant since 2015. Furthermore, in the same year he was appointed colonel of the reserve army.
The year-long studies beckon a bright future for the prince in defence and security policy, with a high-level career at an international organisation a distinct possibility.
Closer to the public
That’s providing a career in television or as an outright historian doesn’t come first. This autumn, thousands of Danes will sense something familiar about the voice of the narrator of an ambitious DR series, which over six episodes will tell the story of Denmark.
The prince is fulfilling a fascination in history and archaeology inherited from his mother to realise his dream of making a meaningful account of the country that means so much to him.
In collaboration with producer Anna von Lowzow from Nordisk Film, the documentary series will not so much focus on the chronology of Denmark, but its pillars and very fabric.
For his people, it will be a chance to meet the man behind the title – a prince who has come to terms with his role, confident now to share a more nuanced persona than the media and public have hitherto credited him with.