Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, RE (born Alexandra Christina Manley on 30 June 1964) was the first wife of Prince Joachim of Denmark, the younger son of Queen Margrethe II. She is of mixed Chinese-European ancestry and lived in Hong Kong until she met Prince Joachim in 1994. They were married from 1995 to 2005 and had two boys. After her divorce she remarried and stayed in Denmark.
Early life and family
Of English, Chinese, Czech, and Austrian ancestry, Alexandra Manley was born in Hong Kong, as the eldest of three daughters of Richard Nigel Manley (born in Shanghai, China on 11 August 1924 to an English father and Chinese mother; died 12 January 2010, buried 10 February 2010 in Liesing Cemetery, Vienna) and Christa Maria Manley of Czech and Austrian descent (born Christa Maria Nowotny in Austria in 1933). She was christened at the Cathedral of Saint John, Hong Kong. Her father was an insurance company executive; her mother was the manager of a communications company. She attended Quarry Bay Junior School (1969-1971), Glenealy School (1971-1974) and Island School (1974-1982), all in Hong Kong.
Manley studied international business at universities in Austria, Japan, and England. It is not known whether she has obtained a university degree. From 1990 to 1995, she was employed by GT Management (Asia) Ltd., Hong Kong, where she from 1990–1993 worked in Sales and Marketing and from 1993 as a deputy chief executive of that department.
First marriage and children
Alexandra met Prince Joachim at a party in Hong Kong, where he was working for a Danish shipping company. After a whirlwind courtship, thought to have begun in late 1994, Prince Joachim, on bended knee, presented Alexandra with a diamond and ruby engagement ring while the couple holidayed together in the Philippines. Their engagement, which took both Alexandra's family and Danish royal watchers by surprise, was officially revealed in May 1995.
They were wed on 18 November 1995, by Queen Margrethe's Chaplain-in-Ordinary, in the Chapel of Frederiksborg Castle at Hillerød. The wedding festivities were held at Fredensborg Palace. The bride's gown was designed by Jørgen Bender; she wore the Alexandrine Drop Tiara, originally the property of Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, which was a wedding gift from Queen Margrethe.
When she married Prince Joachim, she had to renounce her British citizenship and give up her career in marketing. She also changed her religious affiliation. Alexandra, an Anglican, received instruction in the Evangelical Lutheran faith and was confirmed prior to her wedding.
Prince Joachim and Alexandra have two children from their former marriage:
Prince Nikolai William Alexander Frederik (born 28 August 1999)
Prince Felix Henrik Valdemar Christian (born 22 July 2002)
Alexandra became popular with the Danish people. Known for her fashion sense and charity work, she was dubbed the Diana of the North. She is a native English and German speaker (through her father and mother, respectively), and her fluency in German helped her pick up the Danish language quickly. Within a few months she spoke it nearly without accent, which further endeared her to the Danes. As she said in an interview, "I don't find the grammar especially difficult, but the pronunciation can be hard, since we swallow some of our words. It reminds me a little of German, with the glottal stop … Saying something with an upswing or a downswing can give a word an entirely different meaning," she explained. "It was my decision to learn the language immediately. It would have been terrible to have to stand up and speak English at an engagement, or thank someone for something. It would have been utterly wrong. This is my home, and so there was no other option".
In addition to her European language skills, Alexandra speaks a bit of Cantonese. At a press conference in 1995, when asked whether or not she is able to communicate with Prince Henrik in Chinese, she stated that she believes that his Chinese is better than hers. She then clarified that Henrik speaks Mandarin Chinese while she speaks a little bit of Cantonese, which is the dominant language in Hong Kong.
Both during and after her marriage, she was involved in numerous philanthropic pursuits, including the Children's Red Cross, the Danish Society for the Blind, UNICEF, and single mothers' advocacy group Mother Help. She also served as a UNICEF ambassador when she travelled to Thailand to visit HIV/AIDS patients.
Separation and divorce
By mid-2004, rumours were circulating throughout Denmark and neighbouring Sweden and Norway that her marriage to Prince Joachim had gone sour. The rumours proved to be true. On 16 September 2004 Alexandra and Joachim announced their separation and eventual intention to divorce. It would be the first in the Royal Family since 1846. Newspaper reports speculating on the reasons for the marital rupture soon followed. The Folketing decided to put Alexandra on the civil list for life, independent of her possible future remarriage. Alexandra's payments of her new yearly allowance of $330,000.00 (US) started retroactively from 1 October 2004. The couple divorced on 8 April 2005.
Second marriage and current life
In mid-2005 there were reports and pictures of Alexandra together with Martin Jørgensen (b. 2 March 1978 in Valby), a photographer 14 years her junior and the son of Jacob Jørgensen. Jacob Jørgensen is well known in Denmark for his film production company JJ Film, which produced numerous documentaries in which members of the Royal Family co-operated and participated.
She married Martin Jørgensen on 3 March 2007 in a private ceremony at Øster Egede Church near Fakse. In September 2015, it was announced that Jørgensen and the Countess were getting a divorce after 8 and a half years of marriage. The Countess had cited differences in values as the reason for the divorce.
In 2007 the Countess of Frederiksborg joined the Danish board of directors of Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Titles, styles and honours
Titles and styles
30 June 1964 — 18 November 1995: Miss Alexandra Christina Manley
18 November 1995 — 8 April 2005: Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Denmark
8 April 2005 — 16 April 2005: Her Highness Princess Alexandra of Denmark
16 April 2005 — 3 March 2007: Her Highness Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Countess of Frederiksborg
3 March 2007 — present: Her Excellency Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg
Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant (R.E.)
Denmark: Royal Family Order of Queen Margrethe II
Denmark: Commemorative Medal of the Silver Jubilee Order of Queen Margrethe II
Finland: Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
Luxembourg: Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau
Romania: Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania