Anna Johannesen, a reporter with Denmark's weekly royal magazine, broke the story of the crown prince's secret relationship. She snapped the first pictures of then 29-year-old Mary Donaldson, the daughter of an Australian college professor.
Until then, the yearlong romance had been hush-hush. Far from the watchful eye of the Danish media, the relationship between working girl and future king had flourished.
Prince Frederik finally proposed to Donaldson — with his mother's royal blessing, of course. But even this modern prince was still required to have a formal stamp of approval from the Danish parliament for his bride-to-be.
She got it. And today, Frederik and Donaldson walked down the aisle in a lavish ceremony in Copenhagen.
Though she was born a commoner, Donaldson appears much more demure than some of today's young princesses. Being a princess was once very formal job — it seemed to be about smiling and waving at people. But when today's young princesses wave and smile, you might just see the flash of a tongue stud, or they may be accompanied by an illegitimate son whose father is a past boyfriend with a drug conviction.
ABCNEWS consultant John Kennedy publishes the Almanach de Gotha, the official Who's Who of Royalty. Years ago, royals could only marry people who were listed in the book. If you married outside the book, you lost real things. "You were out of the family, out of the title, out of the inheritance, out of the pension, out of everything. Out on the street," Kennedy said.
But today's royals are pushing the boundaries — publicly. Monaco's Princess Stephanie, the younger daughter of Prince Rainier III and the late Grace Kelly, is the poster child for "bad girl" princesses.
Stephanie's tried singing, modeling, getting tattoos and dating movie stars like Rob Lowe, and members of the palace staff. She married her bodyguard, whom she then divorced after he was caught by a photographer guarding the body of a Belgian stripper. She's now married to a circus acrobat.
In stuffier England, Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of the queen, got publicity for more minor offenses such as having a pierced tongue, getting photographed drinking beer, and fighting with a live-in boyfriend.
Decades ago, Zara's aunt, Princess Margaret, was considered the bad girl merely for doing things like smoking and falling in love with a divorced man.
"I think Prince Charles was probably the last heir to the throne that had to marry someone that had no past, hadn't been with anybody. That made it pretty difficult at the age of 40," Kennedy said. "Short of raiding a monastery or a kindergarten, where was he going to find such a bride?"
After Diana and Charles, Kennedy says, we're seeing a new type of princess bride. "All of them have got a past, they've got a history, they've been through scandals."
Like Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a former commoner with a young son born out of wedlock. Before she married Crown Prince Haakon in 2001, Mette-Marit went on Norwegian television and made a tearful apology for her past wild partying.
Charlotte Casiraghi, Princess Caroline of Monaco's 17-year-old daughter, has grown up to be the new focus of the paparazzi because she's beautiful. The press is already talking about her marrying Prince William. The only problem — she's never met him.
So, what's the job of the modern princess? "Try and keep out of the gossip columns as much as possible," said Kennedy.