The Duchess of Cambridge wrapped up her two day visit to Denmark today, February 23, with a visit to a Forest Kindergarten, an audience with Queen Margrethe, and a visit with Crown Princess Mary.Embed from Getty Images
The first stop of the day was to the Stenurten Forest Kindergarten. Forest kindergartens are a type of preschool education that takes place outdoors and focuses on learning and developing social and emotional skills and doesn’t rely on commercial toys. They were first developed in Denmark in the 1950s but have spread to several countries around the world.
Kate joined a group of children for their activities including a woodland walk and chopping logs.Embed from Getty Images
The next stop was Christian IX’s Palace for an audience with the Queen and Crown Princess Mary.
There are two major jubilees in 2022: Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her 70 year reign; and Queen Margrethe II celebrating her 50 year reign. This visit was a celebration of the two anniversaries.
The choice of Christian IX’s Palace is a nod to the connection between The United Kingdom and Denmark as it’s named after Christian IX, the great-great grandfather of both Queens.Embed from Getty Images
After the audience with The Queen, The Duchess and Crown Princess took a walk through Amalienborg Palace Square to Frederik VIII’s Palace where Mary hosted Kate for a private lunch.
After lunch, Mary and Kate visited Danner Crisis Center – which was founded between 1873 and 1875 by Countess Danner (born Louise Rasmussen) who later married Frederik VII by morganatic marriage. The center has been used as a domestic abuse shelter since 1980, and can house 18 women and 18 children.Embed from Getty Images
At the shelter, Mary and Kate spoke privately with several of the residents. In addition, Mary and Kate sat down with shelter organizers and advisors to discuss the shelter and The Mary Foundation’s initiative, ComfortPacks. The Mary Foundation hands out 2,000 backpacks each year to children in shelters in Denmark, Greenland, or on the Faroe Islands. These backpacks contain items such as a toothbrush, a teddy bear, school items, and a postcard (with a greeting from The Crown Princess).Embed from Getty Images
Lene Frisch Larsen, a child therapist at the centre, told the royal visitors: “It’s actually very important for the children to have their own stuff.”
Explaining that mothers and children often arrive at the centre in the middle of the night, Mary told Kate: “It started as an idea to ensure that they had some practical things and some comforting things at the same time. But we soon realised that it had a much deeper effect than just to give them a toothbrush – it became a way to start a conversation.”
They were also shown a postcard from the Crown Princess to each child in which she tells them they can talk about their experiences. Lene explained how one little girl had been so excited to receive the note “from the real Crown Princess” that she took it to school to show all her friends and told her mother she could tell everyone because “Princesses don’t lie.”
“You should tell my children!” joked Mary, who has four children with her husband Crown Prince Frederik – Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 14, and 11-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine. […]
Mette Marie Yde, chief executive of the Danner Centre, told the Duchess: “Thanks for your visit. It means a lot to us and all the women and the children you just met, but it means a lot to all women and children in Denmark in a situation of domestic abuse.” Talking about the centre’s work, she added: “Not only do we provide emergency support, but also longer-term solutions and our goal is not only to protect women and children but also to prepare them for life afterwards.”
Told the women and children are encouraged to talk about their experiences with others, Kate said: “It must be really helpful for the women who have just arrived to hear from others who have been here a bit longer, about what they have been through and share their stories.”
The Crown Princess replied: “Sometimes they are not ready, because it’s too traumatic.”
Lene Frisch Larsen, a child therapist, said children are given a room where they can talk about the violence they have experienced, adding: “The children don’t have answers to their questions and why the violence has happened.”
“And also, what’s normal?” added Mary. “Because for them violence is normal. The children need to speak about what they have been through.”
Kate said: “When it comes to building these relationships, is it based on trauma-informed best practice, for children specifically? What sort of programme is it?”
“We use different tools,” explained Lene. “When the woman and her child comes here the first conversation will be with the mother alone, with me and a colleague, a social worker.” She said the first meeting with the child was with the mother too, “to help mums explain why they are here,” adding: “The child will find out that it’s ok to talk about it, it’s not a secret anymore.”
Mary explained: “We don’t want to take away the power of being a mother, by saying ‘I know this because your mother has told me’, and it’s together with the mother that we have the first conversation, so she’s the support for the child always.”
Kate asked: “The variety of ages of the children you work with, the way you talk about their experiences must vary in order to help them explain the situation. What helps most with healing for both the children and women who come here? Is it having a safe space, is it someone trusting to talk to? Or everything? A combination?”
Lene agreed, adding: “If you’re not safe, you’re not able to talk about having a future.”
Danner supports around 60 women a year in the crisis centre and under Danish law, all municipalities have to provide temporary shelter to women and children who are suffering domestic violence. The Duchess heard how mothers coming to the shelter tell their children it’s a hotel where they are having a break. Older children also receive diaries so they can write about their experiences.
She asked: “Are they aware of what they’re [the children] going through and what they are experiencing? Are they aware that it’s having an impact on their children?”
Lene replied: “A lot of the mums say their child hasn’t seen anything.”
“But children notice,” nodded Kate, adding: “The older they are the more they can articulate and explain how they feel. Parents I’ve seen in addiction, their children are two or three who (they think) don’t notice it. But it’s because they don’t have a voice.. But children feel relationships.”
Crown Princess Mary said there needed to be better understanding of the complexity of domestic abuse, saying: “We have this tendency to say, ‘just leave’, but it’s so much more complicated.” She said there needed to be better understanding of “how can we, as bystanders, do something. Are we going to exacerbate the situation? It’s not easy, but we need to have these conversations to be able to create better awareness.. and give people the power to take action.”
Social workers at the centre also speak to class teachers so children have a trusted contact there to confide in. “It helps to break the taboo,” said Lene.Hello
I’ve enjoyed that we’ve actually gotten quotes from Kate the last two days, because typically we don’t get much of what she actually said. From what I’ve read of the conversations and questions she’s asked during this visit, she sounds informed and is asking good questions.
I really like Mary, though. She gets it. Between this visit and her interview for her 50th birthday, Mary sounds so knowledgable.Embed from Getty Images
Here is a video of the photocall with The Queen and the shelter visit with Mary:
Here is a video of the visit to the kindergarten where Kate chopped a log:
Kate ended the day with a goodbye from the British Ambassador to Denmark.Embed from Getty Images
For the visit with The Queen and Mary, Kate chose a new Catherine Walker “Marine” coat in gunmetal grey, paired with her Mulberry Amberley bag and Gianvito Rossi pumps.
Kate wore the same jewelry from yesterday: Maria Black earrings and Monica Vinader necklace.Embed from Getty Images
For the kindergarten visit, Kate chose a Seeland Woodcock jacket and H&M sweater, along with her Liv Thurlwell hoops.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images