Danish crown prince’s visit commemorates rescue of Jews

It’s been over 900 years between visits of Scandinavian royals to Jerusalem.

By RICHARD OESTERMANN
October 27, 2013 21:51
3 minute read.
DANISH CROWN Prince Frederik.

DANISH CROWN Prince Frederik 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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It’s been over 900 years between visits of Scandinavian royals to Jerusalem.

On October 30, Danish crown prince Frederik, 45, will make an ultra-short visit to Israel to attend a gala concert at the Jerusalem Theater on the 70th anniversary of the Danish people’s rescue of Denmark’s 7,000 Jews to Sweden in October 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark.

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The rescue operation – the only light in the darkness of Nazi-occupied Europe – was almost completely successful, as about 90 percent of Danish Jewry was saved, and only a few hundred deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Prior to the concert, the public will be addressed by Denmark’s future king, and by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Crown Prince Frederik, who is accompanied by Danish education minister Christine Antorini, will meet President Shimon Peres separately.

The crown prince’s visit to Israel will be yet another milestone in Denmark’s relationship with the Jewish people. His visit here is of course not political, but has significant undertones as yet another outstretched Danish hand to the Jews and perhaps also a special recognition of Israel in troubled times.

It is a historic visit. Not for 906 years has a Nordic king visited Israel. The last one was that of Norwegian king Sigurd Jorsalfar (Norwegian for “Jerusalem traveler”), who was here on a pilgrimage toward the end of his reign (1103-1130) and who was the leader of a Norwegian Crusade.



Another Danish king set off for Jerusalem, but never quite made it. He was king Erik Ejegod (“Erik the Ever Good”), who set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem but died in Cyprus in 1120.

Frederik became crown prince in 1972, when his mother succeeded to the throne as Queen Margrethe II.

He is also the son of Prince Henrik, the former French Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat. The crown prince and Australian-born crown princess Mary have four children.

Frederik is coming to Israel from Australia where he and the crown princess have attended the 40th anniversary of the world-renowned Danish architect Joern Utzon’s famous Opera House in Sydney.

The gala concert in Jerusalem was arranged by Danish organizations, Danes in Israel and Friends of Denmark in Israel, in cooperation with the Danish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Crown prince Frederik is a well-educated man. In addition to his mother tongue, he is fluent in French, English and German.

He is a graduate of the Ecole des Roches in Normandy, France. He studied political science at Harvard University under the name of Frederik Henriksen, was a member of the Danish UN mission to New York and was posted as first secretary to the Danish embassy in Paris in 1998-99.

He has completed extensive military studies in all three services and is a staff officer at the Defence Command Denmark, and since 2003 has been a senior lecturer with the Institute of Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College.

Perhaps above all, he is an avid sportsman, running marathons in Copenhagen, New York and Paris, with a respectable finishing time of three hours, 22 minutes and 50 seconds in the Copenhagen Marathon. He is a keen sailor, being a competitive Farr 40 skipper. He finished fourth in the European Championship Dragon Class 2003.

He is a frogman in the navy, where he goes by the nickname “Pingo,” and won the hearts of most Danes when some years ago he set out on a gruelling, months-long sledge-dog patrol in the Greenland darkness.

The writer is a Danish journalist working in Jerusalem as a Middle East correspondent for Scandinavian papers.

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