As soon as upon a time, there was a princess in Denmark who aspired to develop into an artist.
Although she was the eldest youngster of the nation’s reigning king, for the primary 12 years of the princess’s life, solely males had the proper to inherit the throne. That modified when the Danish structure was amended in 1953, and the princess grew to become her father’s presumptive inheritor quickly after turning 13. She continued to pursue her curiosity in artwork all through her teenage years, producing drawings by the stacks earlier than largely stopping in her 20s.
Across the time the princess turned 30 — and after she had earned a diploma in prehistoric archaeology on the College of Cambridge, and had studied at Aarhus College in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London College of Economics — she learn J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” It impressed her to begin drawing once more.
Three years later, upon her father’s loss of life in 1972, the princess was topped as queen: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, to be particular.
Margrethe, now 83, celebrated 50 years on the throne in 2022. However in assuming the position of queen, she didn’t abandon her inventive passions. As a monarch she has taken classes in sure media, has taught herself others and has been requested to convey her eye to tasks produced by the Royal Danish Ballet and Tivoli, the world’s oldest amusement park, in Copenhagen.
Her work have been proven at museums, together with in a latest exhibition on the Musée Henri-Martin in Cahors, France. And her illustrations have been tailored into paintings for a Danish translation of “The Lord of the Rings.” (They had been printed beneath the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer, and the ebook’s writer approached her about utilizing them after she despatched copies to Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)
Margrethe lately notched one other artistic accomplishment: serving as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Artwork of Seduction,” a characteristic movie that debuted on Netflix in September and has wardrobes and units based mostly on her drawings and different artworks.
The movie is an adaptation of the fairy story “Ehrengard” by Karen Blixen, a Danish baroness who printed beneath the pen title Isak Dinesen. Set in a fictional kingdom, the story is loosely a few girl named Ehrengard who turns into a lady-in-waiting and foils a royal court docket painter’s plot to woo her.
“It was nice enjoyable,” Magrethe mentioned of engaged on the movie in an interview in August on the Château de Cayx, the Danish royal household’s property in Luzech, a village close to Cahors within the South of France.
“I hope that Blixenites will settle for the way in which we’ve executed it,” she mentioned.
The Netflix adaptation, a type of fantasy dramedy, has been greater than a decade within the making.
JJ Movie, the Danish manufacturing firm behind it, approached Margrethe about engaged on the film after she served as manufacturing designer for 2 shorter movies it produced, “The Snow Queen” and “The Wild Swans,” which had been each tailored from Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. These movies, launched on Danish tv in 2000 and 2009, additionally featured units based mostly on artworks by Margrethe, who in 2010 grew to become an honorary member of the Danish Designers for Stage and Display union.
For the Netflix movie, the queen designed 51 costumes and made 81 decoupages — a kind of cut-and-paste paintings — that had been used as the premise for units. (She was not paid by Netflix or JJ Movie.) Her sketches, together with a few of the garments and most of the decoupages, are being proven on the Karen Blixen Museum simply outdoors Copenhagen by subsequent April. Afterward, there are plans to point out them in New York, Washington and Seattle.
To compose the decoupages, the queen minimize up photographs of assorted landscapes and interiors and pasted the items collectively to create new scenes, like a luxurious sitting room and a rocky canyon with a fortress and a waterfall.
“Generally it takes hours, and generally issues wish to come collectively they usually do as you need them to do, and instantly you’ve executed an entire decoupage in a day,” she mentioned. “It’s form of a puzzle.”
She was guided by Blixen’s “very visible writing,” she mentioned, noting that Blixen, in addition to Tolkien and Andersen, had been writers who additionally painted or drew.
Bille August, 74, the movie’s director, described the queen’s decoupages as a “tuning fork” that he used to construct “a world that’s indifferent from actuality with out being a full-on fairy story.” (He in contrast the final visible type he sought to the tone of Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!”)
“Conjuring that particular environment is probably the queen’s best achievement right here,” Mr. August mentioned.
Scouts would search places that mirrored the decoupages, which set designers would then type with props to additional emulate the artworks. Components within the decoupages that couldn’t be discovered had been rendered utilizing computer-generated imagery. Some decoupages had been scanned and particulars from the artworks had been added to scenes in postproduction.
Blixen didn’t set “Ehrengard” in a selected time, giving Margrethe freedom to interpret the look of the costumes. She selected to base her designs on garments from the Biedermeier interval in Austria and different components of central and northern Europe, which happened from 1815 to 1848.
Anne-Dorthe Eskildsen, 56, the movie’s costume supervisor, mentioned she usually translated Margrethe’s sketches “one to 1” when fabricating the clothes, which had been made with textiles and trimmings that the queen helped choose.
Margrethe mentioned that for one costume she had sketched — a gown in hunter inexperienced with pink paisley-like specks — she had hoped to discover a sprigged material. “However we couldn’t discover one,” she mentioned, so the sample was customized printed. One other costume designed for the movie’s grand duchess character was impressed by a portrait of a French queen.
“She was carrying a stunning get-up,” Margrethe mentioned. “It appeared to me precisely what the grand duchess needs to be carrying.”
Sure components of the costumes, like leg-of-mutton sleeves, mirrored style on the time of the Biedermeier interval. “I fairly like that type,” Margrethe mentioned. “I’ve been enthusiastic about type and within the historical past of fashion and costume for a really very long time.”
Different particulars had been much less traditionally correct: Some clothes had waistlines that had been barely decrease than these typical of that period, to offer them a extra flattering match.
Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, 39, the actor who performed the court docket painter, Cazotte, mentioned that when Margrethe noticed an early model of his costume, she thought it lacked coloration. “And he or she was clear about precisely which colours she wished to see,” he added.
The actress Alice Bier Zanden, 28, who performed the title position of Ehrengard within the movie, mentioned that at a dressing up becoming attended by Margrethe, the queen’s enthusiasm was palpable. “You’re simply captivated with it,” she mentioned.
Sidse Babett Knudsen, 54, who performed the grand duchess, described the queen’s presence on the becoming this fashion: “naked legs, stunning footwear, good jewellery — smoking away.” (Margrethe has made no secret of her fondness for cigarettes.)
Ms. Knudsen added that she felt comfy “clowning round” in entrance of Margrethe, who has usually been well-liked in Denmark. In accordance with a 2021 poll by YouGov Denmark, she was probably the most admired girl within the nation (probably the most admired man was Barack Obama), and in a 2013 Gallup poll carried out for Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest newspaper, 82 p.c of contributors agreed or partly agreed that the nation advantages from the monarchy.
Her critics have included members of her household. Prince Joachim, the youthful of her two sons, bristled at her latest choice to shrink the monarchy by stripping his youngsters of their royal titles. In 2017 her husband, Prince Henrik, introduced that he didn’t want to be buried beside Margrethe as a result of he had by no means been given the titles king or king consort. (He died six months later.)
Helle Kannik Haastrup, 58, an affiliate professor of movie and media research on the College of Copenhagen, who makes a speciality of superstar tradition, mentioned that some detractors have dismissed Margrethe as “a Sunday painter.”
However to different folks, Professor Haastrup added, the truth that Margrethe is a head of state with a “facet hustle” has made her extra relatable.
‘Actually, She Can’t Cease’
Margrethe sketches and makes artwork on the chateau in France and at studios at Amalienborg Palace and Fredensborg Palace, the royal household’s residences in Denmark. She described the studios as locations “the place I can let issues lie about,” including, “I attempt to clear them up sometimes — however not too typically!”
“I work after I can discover the time,” she mentioned, “and I appear often to have the ability to discover the time.”
“Generally, I feel individuals are at their wit’s finish as a result of I’m attempting to do these two issues on the similar time,” Margrethe mentioned of her royal duties and her artistic undertakings. “However it often works, doesn’t it?”
Annelise Wern, one of many queen’s 4 ladies-in-waiting, mentioned, “Actually, she will be able to’t cease.”
Within the Nineteen Eighties, when she was in her 40s, Margrethe took weekly portray classes. She has largely targeting portray landscapes with watercolors and acrylics — or “lazy lady’s oils,” as she known as them.
Then, within the early Nineties, she began slicing up pages from The World of Interiors magazines and catalogs from public sale homes like Christie’s and Sotheby’s and utilizing the paper cutouts to embellish objects.
“I didn’t even know there was a sensible title for it,” she mentioned, referring to decoupage. “I known as it ‘slicing and sticking.’”
Since then, her relations have sometimes been “smothered in decoupage,” as she jokingly put it. And in needlepoint, which she had realized as a lady and picked up once more later in life.
Her colourful needlepoint designs, a few of which had been lately featured in an exhibition at the Museum Kolding in Kolding, Denmark, have been long-established into purses for members of the family and have been used to upholster hearth screens, footstools and cushions for the royal household’s yacht, Dannebrog, which shares its title with the Danish flag.
Margrethe’s style for daring colours could be additionally seen in her wardrobe. In a 1989 biography of the queen by the Danish journalist Anne Wolden-Raethinge, Margrethe mentioned: “I all the time dream in coloration. At full blast. Technicolor. All over the place. Each shade.”
Her garments typically characteristic vivid prints and fur trims, and are virtually all the time accessorized with jewellery. Among the many objects in her private assortment are gold items by the Danish jewelers Arje Griegst and Torben Hardenberg, whose designs are each baroque and gothic-punk, and costume jewellery like plastic clip-on earrings she discovered at a Danish drugstore.
For her eightieth birthday, in 2020, Margrethe had a robe made utilizing velvet that she had requested be dyed a selected shade of sky blue. A floral raincoat she had made with a waxed material meant for tablecloths, which she picked out on the division retailer Peter Jones & Companions in London, has inspired different style designers’ collections.
“I often am fairly deeply concerned,” she mentioned of getting garments made for her.
Ulf Pilgaard, 82, a Danish stage and display actor, has parodied the queen some dozen occasions over the a long time. (He was knighted by Margrethe in 2007.) “I all the time wore earrings and a necklace and really good colourful outfits,” Mr. Pilgaard mentioned.
For his final flip as Margrethe, in 2021, he wore a vibrant yellow gown with oversize pearl earrings and a chunky turquoise ring. On the finish of the efficiency, she shocked him onstage.
“Individuals acquired on their toes and began roaring and clapping,” he mentioned. “For a couple of seconds, I assumed it was all for me.”
On the premiere of “Ehrengard: The Artwork of Seduction” in Copenhagen final month, Margrethe wore a pantsuit within the crimson coloration of the Danish flag (and the Netflix brand), together with a hefty turquoise brooch and matching earrings by Mr. Hardenberg, who earlier than beginning his namesake jewellery line made costumes and props for theater and movie productions.
Nanna Fabricius, 38, a Danish singer and songwriter generally known as Oh Land, who has labored alongside Margrethe on latest productions at Tivoli, mentioned, “I feel a really large a part of why the queen is so appreciated is as a result of she does issues.”
“We aren’t completely shocked when she makes a Netflix film,” she added.
“She’s form of what Barbie needs to be,” Ms. Fabricius mentioned. “She does all of it.”