Crown Prince Frederik Celebrated Seamen’s Church

On top of Mount Faber, one of the only high points in the tiny Asian city state of Singapore, lies “The Golden Bell” beautifully located in an almost filmic way. Surrounded by something that is probably best described as jungle, the 100 year old building stands proudly, and visitors will be taken to an oasis-like state of mind, where the distance to the nearest skyscraper construction immediately feels much longer than it may actually be.

Fantastic 15 meters tall bamboo plants and a hundred year old tree was allowed to survive when the bush cutter cleared the area immediately surrounding the building as the Danish Seamen’s Church 25 years ago moved into the address. The huge and fairytale like tree is occupied by numerous symbiotic plants and additionally equipped with up to several lightning conductors, because it is feared that one of Singapore’s sometimes hot-tempered and rich monsoon thunder-storms should do away with the tree and thereby cause consequential damage to the wing of the church, located perilously close to the tree.

Royal visit
Pastor’s wife Inge Pedersen shakes one of the brand new, orange cushions before gently placing it in an equally new, braided garden chair. The dust whirls around in the air and are hit by the rays from the sun, which for a moment are made visible. 20 meters down the driveway a group of former members of the Danish Royal Guard Regiment rehearse a drill. Luckily for them the big bear skinned hats and thick uniforms are swapped with suits – but they are still sweating.

Today is a big day. In just a few hours the Danish Crown Prince will arrive take part in the reception to mark the 25th anniversary of the Church, and many benevolent sponsors have made it possible to refurbish the church and at the same time equip it with new furniture both inside and out. A project that was under way long before anyone was aware that the Crown Prince would visit during the course of his stay in Singapore as an IOC representative at the Youth Olympic Games. The church should look its best at its anniversary. And it does look good. No doubt about it. The Seamen’s Church, with its Georgian facade with neoclassical features such as Doric columns, ornate arches and a Greek-inspired frieze, at the time of construction a very popular form of expression in architecture, appears incredibly beautiful with the deep blue sky as a contrasting background.

Gradually, more and more people from the Danish community in Singapore make their way up the winding driveway that leads up to the church. Young and old and a whole lot of children. As an exception the doors of the Church are on this day not just open to anyone. It is a safety precaution. 330 invitations were produced and they were immediately snapped up by members of the community.

As the time for the arrival of the Crown Prince approaches, the many Danish children gather at the fence screaming and shouting.

“It’s that car, I’m sure,” shouts one. “Nooo, he arrives on a scooter,” answers another, making the rest of the group giggle.

At five o’clock in the the afternoon Crown Prince Frederik finally arrives in a car plastered with Youth Olympic bumper stickers. Pastor Ronald Pedersen and current president of the church counsil Tom K. Hansen are ready to greet the important guest. The Crown Prince smiles broadly showing off a newly grown beard as he exits the car with his two bodyguards.

“Guardsmen, teeeen-hut!” shouts the superior officer making the group of former soldiers look straight ahead as the the Prince passes by on his way up to the church and the more than 300 excited Danes.

Hundreds of cameras flash all around the Danish Crown Prince but it is very obvious that this is just a matter of course to him, as he does not seem bothered what so ever. On the contrary Frederik is very enthusiastic and in the best of moods this hot day in late August.

After meeting the sponsors of the church the Crown Prince, pastor Ronald Pedersen and Tom K. Hansen went to the podium for the speeches. Ronald went first talking about the church’s history and of course stating his appreciation of the Royal visit. Secondly President of the church counsil, Tom K. Hansen thanked the many sponsors as well as the Crown Prince and his mother, Queen Margrethe the 2nd of Denmark, who is the patron of all Danish Seamen’s churches around the world. Finally the Crown Prince was invited to the microphone. After talking about the importance of Danish representation abroad and making several funny comments on the hot weather to much amusement of the crowd, His Royal Highness was given a present. A book telling the story of the Seamen’s church 25 years in Singapore.

No such thing as coincidences
The fact that it is pastor Ronald Pedersen and his wife Inge Pedersen, who, this hot day in late August, should welcome the important guest and the many other Danes, is a paradox of coincidences. They were the very same couple who back in 1984 was sent to Singapore to start a Danish Seamen’s Church and strengthen the church’s work in Asia. Something that had long been a desire in the Danish Seamen’s Church Board.

Then suddenly this spring, 25 years after founding the church, a temporary replacement was needed in Singapore as the application procedure for a new pastor was still ongoing. Ronald and Inge jumped at the opportunity, although Ronald’s title as pastor for six years had been swapped out with one as a pensioner and the couple had retired to their house in the hills of Ebeltoft on the nose of Jutland. For many years it had been a secret desire for the couple to return to their beloved Singapore should they be so lucky again to get the chance.

“When we got the letter, presenting us with this opportunity, I began even more to doubt that there’s such a thing as coincidences,” says Inge Pedersen.

Empathetic Crown Prince
Back at the reception a huge and delicious buffet ranging from sushi to small chicken salad sandwiches is revealed, but people seem more interested in the Crown Prince as he more than willingly has a chit chat and a picture taken with who ever has the nerves to approach the royalty.
Making his way to a chilled glass of white vine, Frederik shows his empathetic self, turning towards a group of children.

“Do you girls remember to drink lots of water in this heat?” His Royal Highness asked, making it a memorable day for both young and old.

A couple of hours later it is all over. The Crown Prince strolls down the driveway waving to the guests. A young girl takes a chance and pursues Frederik asking him for an autograph – immediately met with envy from the other children once again squeezed together against the fence.

“She’s cheating, she wasn’t allowed down there,” her little friends keep repeating.

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