Princess Mary is now facing an AirBNB scandal.
Princess Mary is now facing an AirBNB scandal.

Princess Mary’s bizarre AirBNB scandal

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is at risk of losing the love of the Danish people amid the fallout of the biggest scandal of her royal life.

The Australian-born Princess was slammed after she rented out her private ski chalet in Switzerland for $14,000 a week (65,400 Kroner) on Airbnb, raising concerns the couple could be exposed to blackmail attempts.

 

Princess Mary rented out this ski chalet in Switzerland. Picture: AirBNB
Princess Mary rented out this ski chalet in Switzerland. Picture: AirBNB

It has been the first major misstep in public life the Tasmanian-born style icon, who stole Prince Frederik's heart when they met at the Slip Inn in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics.

The couple are currently enjoying a taxpayer funded three month "ski trip" while their four children, Christian, 14, Isabella, 12, and twins Vincent and Josephine, nine, attend an international school in Verbier, Switzerland.

Documents show Princess Mary, who turns 48 this week (February 5) and Prince Frederik, 51, own the ski chalet they are staying in, but they had kept the purchase quiet for a decade.

Now critics are questioning why the couple did not come clean and why they needed to rent it out on Airbnb when they receive $4 million per year from Danish taxpayers as their "appanage".

Additionally, under Danish law, the Danish royals must get approval before purchasing foreign assets with their public allowance.

 

Under Danish law, the royals must get approval before purchasing foreign assets. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Under Danish law, the royals must get approval before purchasing foreign assets. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

 

The revelation has caused a political storm in Denmark, with usually deferential MPs speaking out and even conservative newspapers mocking the couple in cartoons.

 

Conservative newspapers have mocked the royal family in their cartoons. Picture: Frederiksborg Amts Avis.
Conservative newspapers have mocked the royal family in their cartoons. Picture: Frederiksborg Amts Avis.

"A lot of people feel like it's a taxpayer funded skiing vacation of three months and that doesn't really resonate well with people," Jacob Heinel Jensen, a royal reporter at leading Danish magazine Se og Hor.

"They have to be very careful of not becoming Hollywood celebrities, it doesn't take a lot (for) people to turn against them," he said.

Jacob Heinel Jensen is a royal reporter at Se og Hor. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Jacob Heinel Jensen is a royal reporter at Se og Hor. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

There is 75 per cent support for the monarchy in Denmark and Mary and Frederik are among its most popular members.

But renting their holiday house, which they have since taken off the market, opened the door for them to be blackmailed.

"What if a huge corporation said 'oh we want to become friends with the royal family, what can we do?'. There's this atom they can see if we rent that cabin for six months we can allocate millions to the royal family and expect something in return," Mr Jensen said.

The home boasts a luxury kitchen, three bathrooms, a sauna and spa, and sleeps up to 10 people.

 

Tourists visit Amalienborg palace, home of the Danish royal family, in Copenhagen. Picture Ella Pellegrini
Tourists visit Amalienborg palace, home of the Danish royal family, in Copenhagen. Picture Ella Pellegrini

 

Guests can use a heated room to dry out their ski gear after a day on the slopes.

And there is a painting of a koala above a fireplace.

Mary Donaldson became Princess Mary of Denmark in 2004, but the documents for the ownership of the chalet in Verbier, one of the world's most exclusive ski villages, show her maiden name.

The use of her maiden name was puzzling because her husband referred to himself as Prince Frederik of Denmark, so it was unlikely to be for a security reason.

The Royal households have not disclosed how the couple paid for the ski chalet in a village where homes can cost up to $3 million AUD.

 

 

 

Princess Mary of Denmark at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Picture: Christian Vierig
Princess Mary of Denmark at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Picture: Christian Vierig

 

The couple had claimed they rented it out to cover the operating expenses of the home.

Details of their ownership came out after the couple took their four children and an entourage of security staff and nannies to spend the European winter there.

Prince Frederik has been commuting back between Switzerland and Denmark and said at a press conference that the criticism had made an impression.

Anna Thygesen, a communications specialist and royal commentator, said the couple should have been upfront about their ski chalet, because the cover up has been embarrassing.

 

Royal commentator Anna Thygesen. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Royal commentator Anna Thygesen. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

 

"They owned this house in Verbier for 10 years and nobody knew anything about it," she said.

"It's not that as citizens that we should know everything they are doing but it raises a lot of questions, do they own properties in other cities, security questions.

Lene Balleby, the Danish Royal Communications director, said the property was off the market.

"Now it is no longer an anonymous property, so the conditions for rent are no longer the same. In addition, for the Crown Prince Couple, this makes a difference compared to the possibility of having some privacy. In addition to that, there is also a safety aspect," he said.

Soren Jakobsen, a royal watcher for more than 40 years and Danish author, said there had been a number of cracks in the royal armour recently.

"Until two months ago they were at the top of their popularity," he said.

 

Princess Mary has been a pillar of strength for Prince Frederik, who at one point was undecided on whether he wanted to become king.

"She is the best part of him," Mr Jakobsen said.

In October, she was given the honour of being able to act as Regent when the Queen was away, in what was considered a major promotion.

Queen Margarethe, who turns 80 on April 16, has been priming Princess Mary to take on some of her duties ahead of the day when she rules Denmark alongside Prince Frederik who will become king.

On the streets of Copenhagen, there was still support for Mary, despite the financial furore.

Sabine Loerke, 28, said she was worried about tax dodgers, rather than the money allocated to the royals.

"We pay a lot of taxes, however, I'm fine with it," she said.

"The royals, like Hans Christian Andersen, are part of the Danish fairytale. People travelling they know about them, they bring in all the Chinese people (as tourists)."

Her brother Peter, 25, said: "I think they do a very good job."

Questions have been raised as to why the royal couple did not come clean about the rental. Picture: AirBNB
Questions have been raised as to why the royal couple did not come clean about the rental. Picture: AirBNB

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