September 11, 2009 / 4:41 PM / 10 years ago

Queen of Denmark makes film an extra

COPENHAGEN (Reuters Life!) - Face smeared with soot and wearing rags, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe debuts as an extra in a film based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale on Friday.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark at the Royal Palace in Dresden in this August 23, 2009 file photo. Queen Margrethe debuts as an extra in a film based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. REUTERS/Petr Josek/Files

The 69-year-old queen, known for painting, designing ballet costumes, chain-smoking and speaking frankly, will appear in “The Wild Swans” as a poor spectator to the threatened burning at the stake of the film’s heroine, Princess Elisa.

“The idea emerged spontaneously as we were all working together on the set,” said producer Jacob Jorgensen.

The queen designed sets and costumes for the film, which premieres on Friday, but her minor screen role was only recently revealed.

Andersen’s 1838 fairy tale has earlier been adapted for ballet, television, an animated film — and now a movie.

The story tells of a princess whose 11 brothers are turned into swans when their father, the king, remarries a wicked queen who casts a spell upon them.

Elisa is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn, but the brothers rescue her and regain human form with the help of magic shirts that their sister knitted for them from nettles.

“The queen has worked on this film just like the rest of the professional crew,” Jorgensen said. “We have worked on the project together for five years.”

In a book about her work on “The Wild Swans”, Queen Margrethe said her favourite H.C. Andersen fairy tales were not those about princes and princesses.

“I liked ‘The Swineherd’,” the popular monarch said.

“As a child, one takes things at face value, and when we heard about princesses sitting on silk cushions and wearing silk dresses and crowns on their heads, we knew of course that was nonsense — because we didn’t,” Margrethe said in the book.

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