The pub manager who served Crown Prince Frederik on the night he met his wife and Denmark’s future Queen has revisited that fateful evening.
Australians and Danes alike were overjoyed at the surprise announcement that after almost two decades of marriage, Australian-born Princess Mary will take her seat on the throne as Queen of Denmark in less than a fortnight.
The news was a welcome sigh of relief for fans of the royal couple after rumours of international affairs and a potential marriage breakdown emerged, bursting the bubble on their fairytale relationship.
Justin Tynan said he would never forget the moment a bartender ushered him over to discuss the black AMEX credit card that had been slid across the counter when a group sidled into Slip Inn on a spring evening in 2000.
“I said ‘Wow, who is it?’, and he pointed him out and I said, ‘Who’s he?’, we had no idea who he was,” Mr Tynan said.
“I do remember Mary was with him, but of course, we didn’t know then who she was either.
“It wasn’t until later that we realised we had just had a prince in our pub.”
Tasmanian-born Mary Donaldson was 28 years old at the time and working as a sales director at luxury real estate firm Belle Property.
Her boss, property developer Chris Meehan, invited her to the pub to meet up with some friends to celebrate the Danish women’s handball team winning gold earlier that day.
Little did she know, Mr Meehan counted Prince Frederik among his circle of friends, thanks to a shared love of sailing and the Sydney to Hobart race.
Now the chief operating officer at Laundy Hotels – which include Wolly Bay Hotel and Northies Cronulla – Mr Tynan said the Sussex Street pub was “the place to be” in Sydney’s thriving nightlife scene of the time.
“It was shiny, new and had an all designer outfit,” Mr Tynan said.
John Hemmes – late patriarch of the Merrivale empire – had given his venues a face lift, including the newly opened Establishment Bar, in time for the flood of international punters streaming in to spectate the Olympic Games.
“Justin [Hemmes] and his father [John] acquired that building and then all the buildings next door to it,” Mr Tynan said.
“So the massive renovation was done, the courtyard bar was opened and it was the place to be in Sydney, especially during the Olympics.”
It wasn’t until years later during an interview where the royal couple revealed the Sydney pub had been the location of their first meeting that Mr Tynan became the centre of a media and tourism frenzy.
“I think I did about 50 live crosses around the world when the news broke,” he said of the time.
“The Danish flag still hangs out the front of the building but back in the day we put Carlsberg beer on, we put Danish food on the menu, we had buses turning up with Danish tourists just wanting to see exactly where they were.”
“It was absolutely crazy.”
Queen Margrethe of Denmark shocked the world when she announced she would be abdicating the throne on January 14 in favour of her oldest son Crown Prince Frederik and his Australian-born wife Princess Mary.
It is not yet known when the official Coronation ceremony will take place later this year, but Mr Tynan said he wouldn’t be surprised if the pub, which has rebranded as Mexican Cantina and Bar, El Loco Slip Inn, streamed the broadcast on their TVs.
NCA NewsWire has contacted Merrivale for comment.