My Copenhagen | Life, Louisiana and the pursuit of clichés

The UK’s ambassador to Denmark keeps herself busy attending movie premieres, going to museums … and helping to maintain one of Denmark’s strongest foreign relationships

As part of our summer coverage, we've met with six Copenhageners to ask them what they love about our fair city. For our fifth installment we met with Vivien Frances Life, the British ambassador to Denmark

British ambassador Vivien Life may live and work in and around three charming Østerbro mansions dating from 1910, but the surrounding security resembles an MI5 facility. Which is perhaps fitting given Life’s ambassadorial role in the Copenhagen premiere of the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ last autumn.

“I got to be driven in an Aston Martin to the opening gala,” she says. “So there is a good deal of fun in my work as well.” 


It seems the vocation of an ambassador definitely has its perks, but Life also makes sure to take time out to see Copenhagen’s cultural sites.

“I love Louisiana,” she says. “Before leaving London, my Danish friends all encouraged me to visit the gallery, and I loved it straight away. I have probably been there up to five or six times in the past seven months.”


Louisiana may have proven to be a hit as a pastime activity, but the truth is Denmark has always appealed to Life as a place to live and work.

“I have worked a lot within climate and energy for the UK government,” Life said. “Which means I’ve had quite a close working relationship with Nordic countries in the past, before I got the ambassador’s job.”


And it is that close working relationship that Life also hopes to continue to promote. Although the smooth relations between Denmark and the UK would seem to make that an unnecessary task, new ventures between the two countries sometimes appear without much notice.

“Great Britain has a very comfortable relationship with Denmark,” Life says. “There are all sorts of connections that just happen. But my job is to make sure that the relationship is not taken for granted.”


Denmark’s military presence in Afghanistan, for example, is a part of that relationship that Life works closely on. But the majority of her tasks are built around promoting British business and innovation that both countries can benefit from.


Alternatively, Life also works as somewhat of a business moderator between companies that are looking to benefit from each other’s expertise.


“One exciting partnership we helped create was centered around educational software,” Life said. “There we had former teachers creating programs, not IT developers. That meant software was being adapted to users, rather than the other way around. And that proved to be quite successful.”


But it is not all work and no play. Louisiana aside, Life has completely fallen for Copenhagen’s charm. And as advice to anyone visiting Copenhagen for the first time, Life’s tip is to take advantage of summer’s good weather and walk everywhere.


“Do the cliché things,” Life said. “So don’t feel like you have to be clever and look for any alternatives. Because things like Nyhavn, the little mermaid and all of that are beautiful. When you’ve done all that, then go explore beyond.”



5 of my favorite things about Copenhagen



What would you tell someone visiting Copenhagen for the first time?

Walk everywhere! Do the cliché things. Because things like Nyhavn, the little mermaid and all of that are beautiful.  So don’t feel like you have to be clever and look for the alternatives.  Do the clichés first, and then explore beyond. 


Where do you go for physical activity?

Dyrhaven, and the beach! I’ve been in the water, and given Danish apprehensiveness I’d say that Brits are tougher!


Where would you take a visitor to eat out?

The cliché place! Nyhavn takes some beating. The food might not be the best, but it’s an incredible area to eat in. But I haven’t explored enough. Haven’t been to Vesterbro yet, but I’m hoping to try that out sometime soon!


Where would you park your kids/in-laws for an hour or so while you catch up on email?

If Tivoli’s open, then that’s something for everyone. I was there with my 82-year-old mother, my brother along with his wife and kids, as well as my 21-year-old daughter. And everyone was happy. Don’t know what you’d do with them in January to March though!


Where would you want to be taken on a first date?

When my husband and I want to go out to be alone and leave work behind, we head straight into the center and enjoy some of the restaurants in the smaller streets and squares.


Vivien Frances Life

British ambassador to Denmark 


Vivien Frances Life became British ambassador to Denmark in September 2012, after working as head of the British government’s Climate Change and Energy Department.

Life is married and has two daughters who take turns in visiting their mother and her new home during their time off from university.

In her free time, Life enjoys making the most of her Louisiana membership. Otherwise, she relaxes by taking walks in Bernstoffsparken and its apple orchard.


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