Once upon a time, there was a princess in Denmark who aspired to turn into an artist.
Though she was the eldest baby of the nation’s reigning king, for the primary 12 years of the princess’s life, solely males had the fitting 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.
Around the time the princess turned 30 — and after she had earned a diploma in prehistoric archaeology on the University of Cambridge, and had studied at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics — she learn J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” It impressed her to start out drawing once more.
Not lengthy after, upon her father’s dying 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. But in assuming the position of queen, she didn’t abandon her creative passions. As a monarch she has taken classes in sure media, has taught herself others and has been requested to carry 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 art work for a Danish translation of “The Lord of the Rings.” (They had been printed below 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 just lately notched one other inventive accomplishment: serving because the costume and manufacturing designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a function movie that debuted on Netflix in September and has wardrobes and units primarily based on her drawings and different artworks.
The movie is an adaptation of the fairy story “Ehrengard” by Karen Blixen, a Danish baroness who printed below the pen title Isak Dinesen. Set in a fictional kingdom, the story is loosely a couple of girl named Ehrengard who turns into a lady-in-waiting and foils a royal court docket painter’s plot to woo her.
“It was great fun,” 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 accept the way we’ve done it,” she mentioned.
The Netflix adaptation, a kind of fantasy dramedy, has been greater than a decade within the making.
JJ Film, 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. Those movies, launched on Danish tv in 2000 and 2009, additionally featured units primarily based on artworks by Margrethe, who in 2010 grew to become an honorary member of the Danish Designers for Stage and Screen union.
For the Netflix movie, the queen designed 51 costumes and made 81 decoupages — a kind of cut-and-paste art work — that had been used as the idea for units. (She was not paid by Netflix or JJ Film.) Her sketches, together with a number of the garments and most of the decoupages, are being proven on the Karen Blixen Museum simply exterior Copenhagen by subsequent April. Afterward, there are plans to indicate them in New York, Washington and Seattle.
To compose the decoupages, the queen minimize up pictures 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.
“Sometimes it takes hours, and sometimes things want to come together and they do as you want them to do, and suddenly you’ve done a whole decoupage in an afternoon,” she mentioned. “It’s kind of a puzzle.”
She was guided by Blixen’s “very visual 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 is detached from reality without being a full-on fairy tale.” (He in contrast the overall visible fashion he sought to the tone of Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!”)
“Conjuring that special atmosphere is perhaps the queen’s greatest achievement here,” Mr. August mentioned.
Scouts would search areas that mirrored the decoupages, which set designers would then fashion with props to additional emulate the artworks. Elements 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 particular 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 occurred from 1815 to 1848.
Anne-Dorthe Eskildsen, 56, the movie’s costume supervisor, mentioned she typically translated Margrethe’s sketches “one to one” 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 costume in hunter inexperienced with pink paisley-like specks — she had hoped to discover a sprigged material. “But we couldn’t find one,” she mentioned, so the sample was customized printed. Another costume designed for the movie’s grand duchess character was impressed by a portrait of a French queen.
“She was wearing a lovely get-up,” Margrethe mentioned. “It seemed to me exactly what the grand duchess should be wearing.”
Certain parts of the costumes, like leg-of-mutton sleeves, mirrored vogue on the time of the Biedermeier interval. “I quite like that style,” Margrethe mentioned. “I’ve been interested in style and in the history of style and costume for a very long time.”
Other particulars had been much less traditionally correct: Some clothes had waistlines that had been barely decrease than these typical of that period, to provide 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 shade. “And she was clear about exactly which colors she wanted to see,” he added.
The actress Alice Bier Zanden, 28, who performed the title position of Ehrengard within the movie, mentioned that at a fancy dress becoming attended by Margrethe, the queen’s enthusiasm was palpable. “You’re just smitten by it,” she mentioned.
Sidse Babett Knudsen, 54, who performed the grand duchess, described the queen’s presence on the becoming this fashion: “bare legs, beautiful shoes, nice jewelry — smoking away.” (Margrethe has made no secret of her fondness for cigarettes.)
Ms. Knudsen added that she felt snug “clowning around” in entrance of Margrethe, who has typically been widespread in Denmark. According to a 2021 ballot by YouGov Denmark, she was essentially the most admired girl within the nation (essentially the most admired man was Barack Obama), and in a 2013 Gallup ballot carried out for Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest newspaper, 82 p.c of individuals 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 determination to shrink the monarchy by stripping his kids 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 University of Copenhagen, who makes a speciality of movie star tradition, mentioned that some detractors have dismissed Margrethe as “a Sunday painter.”
But to different individuals, Professor Haastrup added, the truth that Margrethe is a head of state with a “side hustle” has made her extra relatable.
‘Honestly, She Can’t Stop’
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 “where I can let things lie about,” including, “I try to clear them up occasionally — but not too often!”
“I work when I can find the time,” she mentioned, “and I seem usually to be able to find the time.”
“Sometimes, I think people are at their wit’s end because I’m trying to do these two things at the same time,” Margrethe mentioned of her royal duties and her inventive undertakings. “But it usually works, doesn’t it?”
Annelise Wern, one of many queen’s 4 ladies-in-waiting, mentioned, “Honestly, she can’t stop.”
In the Nineteen Eighties, when she was in her 40s, Margrethe took weekly portray classes. She has principally focused on portray landscapes with watercolors and acrylics — or “lazy girl’s oils,” as she known as them.
Then, within the early Nineteen Nineties, she began chopping 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 smart name for it,” she mentioned, referring to decoupage. “I called it ‘cutting and sticking.’”
Since then, her kinfolk have often been “smothered in decoupage,” as she jokingly put it. And in needlepoint, which she had discovered as a woman and picked up once more later in life.
Her colourful needlepoint designs, a few of which had been just lately featured in an exhibition on 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 may be additionally seen in her wardrobe. In a 1989 biography of the queen by the Danish journalist Anne Wolden-Raethinge, Margrethe mentioned: “I always dream in color. At full blast. Technicolor. Everywhere. Every shade.”
Her garments usually function vivid prints and fur trims, and are nearly all the time accessorized with jewellery. Among the gadgets 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 specific 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 & Partners in London, has impressed different vogue designers’ collections.
“I usually am quite deeply involved,” she mentioned of getting garments made for her.
Ulf Pilgaard, 82, a Danish stage and display screen actor, has parodied the queen some dozen instances over the many years. (He was knighted by Margrethe in 2007.) “I always wore earrings and a necklace and very nice colorful outfits,” Mr. Pilgaard mentioned.
For his final flip as Margrethe, in 2021, he wore a shiny yellow costume with oversize pearl earrings and a chunky turquoise ring. At the top of the efficiency, she shocked him onstage.
“People got on their feet and started roaring and clapping,” he mentioned. “For a few seconds, I thought it was all for me.”
At the premiere of “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction” in Copenhagen final month, Margrethe wore a pantsuit within the crimson shade 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 often known as Oh Land, who has labored alongside Margrethe on latest productions at Tivoli, mentioned, “I think a very big part of why the queen is so liked is because she does things.”
“We aren’t totally surprised when she makes a Netflix movie,” she added.
“She’s kind of what Barbie wants to be,” Ms. Fabricius mentioned. “She does it all.”