EUROMAN articleGreat portrait and fashion series with Prince Nikolai: How does it feel to be born into a world of privileges and duties?
Among friends, he is Nikolai.
They know him as a good companion (friend). Polite, well behaved, proper.
He makes the bed when he gets up in the morning. He gives hugs to those he knows and a firm handshake to strangers he meets on his way. If he sees any throwing garbage on the street, he kindly asks them to pick up. He is happy to go to school, but is even happier about the idea that it will soon end.
His parents are divorced, but they are fine with each other and have made it work with the children. He watches the news and reflects on the world he lives in. His full name is Nikolai William Alexander Frederik. He is a young man of 18 years who happens to be a prince.
Nikolai is the oldest son of Prince Joachim and Countess Alexandra. His title is His Highness Prince Nikolai, Count of Monpezat.
He is the seventh in the succession of the Danish throne, and it is unlikely that he will ever come near the title as king. But he is a prince, and he belongs to a small circle of Danes who have grown up with special privileges and special duties. He represents the Danish monarchy, one of the world's oldest, with a story that can be traced back to Gorm the Old.
There are Danes who believe that Nikolai's world belongs to the past. That he belongs to a group of people who run through life on a wave of green light. But even more Danes are happy about the royal family and for the traditions and stories we can share in common.
Nikolai lives a life that is sometimes unusual and exotic, surrounded by ceremonial actions and some form of discretion. But most of the time he lives a life that is common, bordering on the ordinary, and which resembles everyday life in most other Danish families with teenagers who live in a house with a hard roof. A life with homework, friday slap, computer games and fighting with a little brother.
And yet: Some days it becomes clear to Nikolai that he is not like most other young men.
When he turned 18 in August last year, he got a car from his parents. He was invited by his grandmother, Queen Margrethe, to party at the Royal Ship Dannebrog, which was docked in Copenhagen. A driver carried gifts from the trunk up the stairs to the ship. Nikolai arrived as the last. The sailors honored while the boatman's whistle welcomed him aboard.
The anecdote is well known. Crown Prince Frederik was 11 years old when he found out for a family breakfast in 1979 what he had in store: His little brother Joachim was to inherit Schackenborg Castle, told their mother. Frederik was to inherit the entire kingdom. The Crown Prince later described it as a frightening realization he was not prepared for. It took him many years to learn to love what to do.
As son of Prince Joachim, there is less pressure on Nikolai, but now that he has grown, he will represent the family in more and more official contexts. Most recently, he was invited to a gala table at Christiansborg Palace, when his uncle, Crown Prince Frederik, turned 50 in May.
Asking Nikolai when he realized that he was a prince, he thinks for a moment. He often does that before he answers.
"I've always been used to it in some sense," he says.
He says it without any sign of drama or effort. It gives the impression of a man who lives fine with his destiny. The role of prince seems natural, comfortable and familiar, as when you put your feet in a pair of slippers.
If you sit in front of Prince Nikolai, it soon becomes clear that these are genes that are better than average. He is in jeans and midnight blue summer shirt. Under the wild-growing curls, the eyes are almond-shaped. The gaze is observant and olive green. There is something indefinable and strange about the face, a pinch of some Asian from his mother who moved from Hong Kong to the South China Sea and married Prince Joachim in 1995. The look is drawn to his face in the same way as the film audience's eyes are looking against the actors who look as if they have a secret.
He is tall and slender without being wrong. He moves with silent, slightly sliding movements, which he does not want to call for undue attention.
He's shot in the air in recent years, and it's been so fast that the muscles couldn't reach. But they are on their way now.
I don't know why, but he looks like the sailor Edmond Dantés, as I imagine him in the 'Count of Monte Cristo'. In the Alexandre Dumas classic of 1844, the young, respected sailor is happily in love and everything is bright as envious men devise a plot and convicted him of imprisonment on the prison island off of Marseille. Many years later, he appeared in Paris as the mysterious count who avenges himself on those who got him locked in.
With its special look, Nikolai has attracted attention in fashion circles. In February 2018 there was a fashion week in London. The interest gathered in particular about the British fashion house Burberry, where chief designer Christopher Bailey had his last show. The show was an opening piece, but no one on the audience ranks noted that among the young men on the catwalk went a prince from Denmark.
"We had hidden a little bit of it," Nikolai tells about his debut as a model. "No one had been told. It was only two days after we got home that it came in the press and then it boomed. ”He smiles. "It was quite fun."
We sit in a corner of the restaurant at Skovshoved Hotel. There is coffee, muffins, juice and a plate of charcuterie on the table. To his left is Countess Alexandra. She follows her son's work as a model. She also joined yesterday when Nikolai took pictures for this magazine.
During the photo shoot she took some steps from the photographer in the studio in an old industrial complex on the outskirts of Copenhagen and made encouraging remarks to her son. She made sure he got something to eat during the breaks, so he could keep the energy level up.
Occasionally she went over and straightened his shoulders, or if the hair rubbed on the wrong side. No one was in doubt that Alexandra is proud of her son.
Nikolai says he would like to do more model tasks if he gets the offer. For the fashion houses he is an exciting name, and the prince title does not make the interest less. But Nikolai has also experienced that the model work arouses wonder.
Shortly before Burberry's fashion show in February, his grandfather, Prince Henry, died 83 years old at Fredensborg Castle. The following days his coffin lay on castrum doloris in Christiansborg Castle Church, and many Danes were queuing up to say goodbye to him.
There were those who thought that Nikolai's model work was an expression of poor timing. Others found that it was okay for him to earn his own money and create his own career, now that neither he nor the other princes and princesses are getting annual money. About the criticism of Nikolai's model assignment in February, Alexandra says:
"I have tried to teach my children that you have to be able to handle the choices you make. You will never be able to satisfy everyone, nor is it why we are here, because everyone can have an opinion today. But by far the majority thought it was okay that Nikolai paved the way for his future life and career. As one also quite rightly observed, he participated in all his duties and the family's chores with a view to the grandpa's funeral. Nikolai did it with the utmost respect. Of course, the missing of his grandpa is huge, but we have no doubt that grandpapa would have liked Nikolai to do so (starred in the fashion show, ed.). We should not forget that. And I can say that everything is done with Prince Joachim's consent, benevolence and support and greatest support. "
Nikolai lives daily at Herlufsholm Kostskole in Næstved, where he is in the process of taking the final exams before he can call himself a student. The school was founded in 1565 and is known for its traditions and discipline. When the pupils hold the ball, there is moderation with moderation, and you are bedded as it is called, no later than 00.30, no matter how fun the party has been.
Nikolai has his own room, a lobster, and he sleeps in a dormitory with a dozen other students. He is one of the students in 3.g, who has been named prefect, which means he is expected to be a role model for younger students. The prefects are tasked with ensuring that school rules are observed and mediating in conflict between students and reprimanding those who are noisy and blowing at bedtime. On other days, the prefects must comfort those who are sad and have homesickness.
There are rules for the students' attire. The uniforms are in gray and dark blue shades. Piercings and other experimental expressions are not allowed. But for the 3.g, some privileges follow, says Nikolai.
"Because we are the oldest students in school, we must wear white trousers and wear a hat one should. It looks like a conductor hat. We have it for everyday use. It cherishes a little about the community and the prestige that you are the oldest. It's cool in some way. Our gala uniform is tie and a blazer and habit pants and should. "
Sandals and shorts do not go?
"In no way, no. There is a certain standard. It is awesome."
Is there anything about clothing making people?
"Well, that is, now we have had a lot about religion. We have debated whether there are people who create traditions or whether they are traditions that create people. I think the school creates some traditions, but it's the students who want to maintain them and create some new ones. "
Nikolai himself thinks he is best for languages - English, German and Latin. Mathematics is also fine, it only interests him less. On the other hand, in his surprise, he is strong in chemistry.
It is said that the exam is the diligent party. Can you enjoy going to the exam when you feel comfortable in the subject?
"Even a party I don't know. You are always a little nervous when you step in. ”
After the summer holidays, Nikolai moves to Varde, where he is admitted to the Army Sergeant School. He has reviewed the necessary studies and is ready to complete the two-year reserve officer training.
It is in the family history that one goes the military way ...
"There was a wish in the family that at least I took conscription in there. Then I thought that I will build on with a slightly longer military education. ”
Alexandra: "I think we have recommended some things. But that was your choice in the end. "
Nikolai can confirm that:
"It was me who came to my father and said that I would like to go in and take that education."
Have you made any thoughts about what should happen afterwards?
He thinks a little. Presumably, this will be a civil education in Denmark or abroad, but he has not decided yet.
“There are many choices and options. I'm not sure what to do when I grow up. Now I have postponed this huge decision for two years with a military education. It's great, and it's also an education in itself. ”
You have previously talked about agriculture or racers?
"I think agriculture is completely out of the picture. But race driver ... ”
He lets the thought hang in the air for a moment.
“If I had the opportunity to be a race driver, I would like to. But that will probably never be the case. ”
"Then you should have started something earlier and maybe have run go-cart first," deposits Alexandra.
When Nikolai is not at Herlufsholm, he lives in the family house in Charlottenlund, where he still has his room. He has a close relationship with his brother, 15-year-old Felix. The two boys have had a good and safe upbringing, even though the family has been uprooted and lived several different places.
When Nikolai remembers his childhood, he remembers pokemon, football cards and the trampoline in the garden. Neither he nor Felix were to drive inside when there was dinner.
Since they were small, the boys have watched the television newspaper with their parents. Their father has the principle that there is no reason to shield children from reality.
Nikolai is thinking further.
“We had a curse word box. I think you paid five kroner per word. The one who had to pay the least won, and got all the money put in for that week. It used to be our father who lost. "
As an adult, Nikolai is aware of the environment and the challenges the world is facing. In the villa in Charlottenlund you go up to recycling, and you do not throw out food just because there is not eaten.
At other times, it becomes clear to Nikolai that he is a prince. Like when he is in the queue at the supermarket with his mother and sees the front pages of the weekly newspapers.
Alexandra has had the attention of the magazines since she came to Denmark and impressed everyone when she made her first speech in Danish. The interest in her life did not diminish after Joachim's divorce. If the family is a party or on holiday, they think about it before they take pictures.
"We're trying to be private," says Nikolai.
We sit for a while in the restaurant without saying anything. We are approaching the inevitable question that the conversation has long revolved around.
Alexandra knows that a day comes when her eldest son moves away from home.
Nikolai is a young prince who has to go to the world and find his own way. She also knows that she and Joachim have done what they could to prepare him.
Alexandra doesn't say anything. Two letters are embroidered on her blue shirt. PN, stands there. The shirt belonged to Nikolai, he was wearing it for his confirmation. It's been a long time since he grew out of it. Now it fits Alexandra.
"I love it," she says.
"Speaking of reuse," says Nikolai.
Do you even think you can leave home?
He looks at his mother with a trying look. Then he says:
"You said something about letting go gradually ..."
Alexandra catches it instantly: "Gradually ... it's the optimal word."
Nikolai smiles. He gives water to his mother, to the journalist and to himself.
We have been sitting at the restaurant for an hour and 26 minutes when Alexandra looks at his watch.
"Oh my goodness."
She looks like someone who has left home and has remembered that she forgot to turn off the water in her bathtub. Time out. Alexandra and Nikolai will continue in today's program.
He has to go home and prepare for the next exam. She has to write on her book. In the book, Alexandra examines why the Danes are repeatedly proclaimed the world's happiest people. The book is a mix of interviews with experts and Alexander's own considerations. She emphasizes that this is not an autobiography.
She gets up and shakes my hand. The same goes for Nikolai.
"Thanks for today," is the last thing I hear Alexandra say before they disappear out the door, around the hedge and towards the parking lot.
The cutlery on Nikolai's plate is positioned correctly, you can see that he is finished.
The restaurant is empty. Outside of the kitchen sounds low-key talk. In half an hour, the big wave of people will come for lunch.
I look at my notes on the block.
How long does it take to get to know a person? Is 86 minutes enough?
I would have liked the opportunity to spend a whole day in the company of Prince Nikolai to see how his world looks. I'd like to have visited him at Herlufsholm, seen his dorm. The answer from the family was that none of the parts could, unfortunately, be possible, but many thanks for the interest. In some parts of society, one has a natural skepticism towards the press. You learn to take your precautions. Certainly for good reason. You keep a friendly distance, protect yourself.
So what can you learn about an 18-year-old man who happens to be a prince? A man who lives a life that is both uncommon and common. With privileges and duties.
I learned about Nikolai that he loves tatar with raw egg yolk.
He is in brilliant physical form. He runs, swims, plays tennis and football.
He laughs without sound.
He drives a Renault Twingo.
He nods to his fellow road users when they show consideration. He will be happy when others do the same for him.
He has a girlfriend, but prefers to keep her out of the press's attention.
He has learned from his parents that if you meet the world with a positive mind, you will often get the same back.
He doesn't drink cola.
He can send text messages under the table without his parents discovering it.
He's an excellent big brother.
He looks you in the eye when he presses your hand.
Maybe I don't need to know more.