"It feels fantastic," said a triumphant Mary after helping crew the yacht that pipped her husband, an experienced yachstman, to the post in a pre-wedding regatta between Australia and Denmark
Photo: AFP
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Saturday evening saw the royal couple in more formal mode for an official dinner in their honour hosted by the Governor-General of Australia, Major Michael Jeffery
Photo: AFP

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10 MAY 2004

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No doubt Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will be happy to be upstaged by his bride on their wedding day next Friday, but he and onlookers got a surprise at the weekend when Mary Donaldson pipped him to the post in a sailing regatta.

Thousands of eager onlookers watched the royal bride help crew a yacht helmed by Australian ace John Bertrand, in a tense race between the Danish and Australian boats, organised as part of the pre-wedding celebrations. Experienced yachstman Frederik said after the defeat, "It's sad, but we'll have a drink or two."

Mary, meanwhile, won praise for her determination. The princess-in-waiting seems to have tackled the sporting challenge with the same single-mindedness that has characterised all the preparations for her new role in life. "It was highly competitive out there," John Bertrand said after the contest. "Mary was right in the thick of things, it was pretty impressive. She was all over the boat, she was also throwing up the protest flag whenever we called for it, which was protesting against her husband-to-be."

But Mary remembered not to get too carried away: after a practice session that left her somewhat battered, she told her skipper, "Look John, in preparation for the wedding, I can't get bruised too much, so we've got to be a little bit careful."

The regatta topped off a weekend of celebrations that included a rock 'n' roll concert in Copenhagen's Parken stadium, where Danish and international musicians entertained the casually dressed royal couple and a 40,000-strong audience.

On the following night, Saturday, Frederik and his bride were in more formal attire for an official dinner hosted in their honour by the Governor-General of Australia.

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