Danish Prince Joachim spent 14 days in March visiting Danish-supported projects in Vietnam and Cambodia. From his arrival March 6 until his departure on the 19th, the Prince saw a number of important projects in both developing countries.
But in the end another media event almost took the attention away from the work done to help children with HIV or poor communities when Prince Joachim’s new love introduced herself to an eager press in Europe, toward the end of his visit.
The visit was arranged by CARE Denmark, of which Prince Joachim is patron. During the trip the Prince visited CARE supported projects, Danida projects and Danish businesses in both two countries.
Children with HIV in Cambodia
Among other things in Cambodia Prince Joachim visited Angkor hospital – a hospital that treats HIV infected children. The hospital is supported by CARE and treats 200 HIV infected children every day. At the hospital Prince Joachim met two HIV infected brothers treated at the hospital – Mao Kakada aged 13 and his brother Hue Kakada aged 11. The Prince took time to talk with the children and listened carefully to their stories.
“I want to live. Once I grow up and get myself an education I want to take care of my grandmother. I am ashamed to be sick and I am afraid to talk about it in school – if the others find out, I will be exiled and discriminated against,” Mao told the Danish consort.
King to change plans
A visit from the Danish royal family is always carefully planned and the Prince was only once diverted from his timetable. This happened when the Cambodian King granted the Danish Prince and his delegation an unexpected audience.
Prince Joachim was welcomed at the royal halls by an honor guard who raised their sabres to the Prince. The audience itself lasted just 15 minutes, but among other things, the work of CARE International was discussed.
Praise for CARE
On Friday the 10th the Prince stopped by the CARE International office in the Cambodian capital Phnom Phen.
The office employs 35 mostly local people and the Prince made sure to greet every single one of them personally.
“The employees at CARE help make a difference and a difference that makes life better for many people. I want you to know that you do a good and a much-needed body of work for your countrymen. Your work makes a beautiful country a lot better to live in,” Prince Joachim told the CARE employees.
The praise was also sent the other way as CARE Denmark General Secretary Niels Tofte emphasized how the Prince’s visit helped CARE.
“It is important to have Prince Joachim as a patron. When he visits our projects it provides the employees and locals a wonderful boost to continue the important work they do. At the same time, it also means a lot back in Denmark when Prince Joachim is here. It tells the Danes about the CARE Denmark projects they wouldn’t normally hear of,” the General Secretary said.
On to Vietnam
The Prince left Cambodia Sunday March 12 and arrived in Vietnam the same evening, just in time to breathe a little before the delegation started out with a full program Monday.
Visiting poor Khmer minorities tending their land on the Mekong Delta, the prince, a farmer himself, was in familiar territory exploring CARE-supported agricultural projects.
Prince Joachim was in a great mood and visiting a pig farm, he did not restrict his questions to the normal courteous homilies one might expect from royalty.
The Prince, who has an agricultural education and manages the Schackenborg Estate whose primary function is agricultural production, could not hide his own interest in life on the land.
“How many of the pigs survive birth? How old are they? When exactly are they taken away from the sow? Where do they go?” the Prince enquired.
The questions kept coming and Prince Joachim listened carefully to the answers – something that the journalists, who normally follow the prince closely, did not.
They instead politely chose to move away to discuss other subjects.
Couldn’t hide the enthusiasm
Visiting the many projects that CARE Denmark has started in the poor areas of the Mekong Delta, the Prince did not try to hide his enthusiasm for the projects and work underway.
Despite the many signs warning about HIV and the wooden sculptures in the temples – some even missing an arm because someone needed the wood to make a cooking fire – Prince Joachim focused on positive things.
“I always try to see the sunny side, no matter how tragic a story. I always try to see the good, instead of focusing on how bad things are. I focus on how to make things better,” he explained to reporters.
The Prince’s new girlfriend
Prince Joachim was happy and smiling during the whole trip, and one reason for his good humour perhaps was revealed during the last days of his time in Vietnam.
Here his visit was marked by an event that had happened thousand of miles away in France, where his – apparently new – girlfriend, Marie Cavallier, gave her first ever interview to a Danish weekly, saying that she loved Prince Joachim very much.
This resulted in the journalists anxiously following Joachim for comment, ditching the focus on poor minorities and focusing instead on the Prince’s new love.
But the Prince didn’t seem to mind and with a smile told journalists that he too was very happy about his new 30-year-old French girlfriend, who he said he has actually known for two years, but said that only in the last year or so has the relationship become serious.
Prince Joachim left Vietnam late on March 18 and after a brief stay in Bangkok, he returned to Danish soil March 19.