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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Kate and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visit women’s refuge in Copenhagen

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Kate’s mission to learn about the Danish way of raising happy and resilient children, took her to the Danner Crisis Centre with the Crown Princess, whose Mary Foundation supports children arriving there by providing them with a backpack filled with essentials.

The Centre can accommodate 18 mothers and 18 children fleeing domestic abuse at a time and on average they stay for four or five months.

Arriving from a private lunch at Frederik VIII’s Palace, the royal women were greeted at the historic building by two little girls, Mouna, seven, and five-year-old April.

“Thank you so much,” said Kate, crouching down alongside Mary to speak to them. “What’s your name?”

“It’s a bit cold!” said the Crown Princess, ushering them inside.

In private, they were introduced to women and children currently living at the shelter which was built by Countess Danner in the 18th Century to house women and children in need.

The Countess was born a commoner, Louise Rasmussen, to a single mother and went on to marry Frederik VII of Denmark.

The building has been used as a domestic abuse shelter since 1980.

In a grand meeting room, Kate and Mary were shown ComfortPacks provided by the Mary’s charity.

They included water bottles, cuddly toys, pencil cases and notebooks.

Lene Frisch Larsen, a child therapist at the centre, told the royal visitors: “It’s actually very important for the children to have their own stuff.”

Explaining that mothers and children often arrive at the centre in the middle of the night, Mary told Kate: “It started as an idea to ensure that they had some practical things and some comforting things at the same time. But we soon realised that it had a much deeper effect than just to give them a toothbrush – it became a way to start a conversation.”

They were also shown a postcard from the Crown Princess to each child in which she tells them they can talk about their experiences.

Lene explained how one little girl had been so excited to receive the note “from the real Crown Princess” that she took it to school to show all her friends and told her mother she could tell everyone because “Princesses don’t lie.”

“You should tell my children!” joked Mary, who has four children with her husband Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Christian, 16, Princess Isabella, 14, and 11-year-old twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine.

As well as providing essentials, the packs serve as a tool to help children speak about the violence they have witnessed.

The bags are filled each year by former Lego employees and staff from the Mary Foundation at Lego Charity in Billund.  More than 30,000 children have received a Comfort Pack since 2008.

Around 2,000 children move into women’s shelters with their mother each year in Denmark

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