21 JANUARY 2008

Already hugely popular in her adopted homeland, Australia-born Princess Mary of Denmark further endeared herself to Danes recently by volunteering for basic military training to help defend the country in case of attack. "We are very happy that the Crown Princess has shown interest in the Home Guard," says its commander, Major General Jan Norgaard. "We think of her membership as a pat on the back for all our volunteers, who will now be getting a royal colleague."

The wife of Crown Prince Frederik looked fighting fit nine months after giving birth to daughter Isabella as she was put through her paces at a training centre in eastern Denmark. As well as learning to use weapons, she is being taught how to administer first aid, fight fires and co-ordinate rescues.

One of Europe's most stylish princesses, Mary – who turns 36 next month - is usually seen gracing society parties in elegant ballgowns, designer shoes and diamond tiaras. The mother-of-two seemed equally at ease, though, in Army fatigues, heavy-duty boots and a green beret like the other recruits.

She is following in the footsteps of her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe II, who was also once trained by the Home Guard and became a member of the Women's Flying Squad. The princess will now have had a taste of her husband's military experience, as six years ago he completed an advanced training program in military leadership at the Royal Danish Defence College. Prince Frederik has also trained with the Danish Navy's elite special operations force, known as the Frogman Corps.

Photo: ©
The princess, apparently dubbed Soldier Mary by her fellow recruits, looked every inch the action girl as she took aim on the firing rangePhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
As well as learning to put out fires and handle weapons, she is also being taught basic first aid on the course at a training centre in eastern Denmark Photo: © Rex