Danish monarch delights children with storytelling

Updated: 2014-04-26 07:20

By Li Xiaokun and Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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China and Denmark vowed to upgrade their relations, with deepened cooperation in clean energy, education, culture and ecological protection, during Premier Li Keqiang's meeting with visiting Danish Queen Margrethe II on Friday.

Li said Denmark, one of the earliest Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with China, should pair up smart green cities and provide a more fair, transparent, open and stable environment for investors and business.

The queen said she was glad to visit China for the first time in 35 years and has gotten a taste of changes that China has made.

Before the meeting on Friday, China's first lady, Peng Liyuan, and the queen read a Danish fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling, to Chinese children.

"The queen is a kind granny. She told the moving story in a touching way," said Chen Dongyang, a third-grader at Fangcaodi International School.

The two women, dressed in elegant suits with skirts, took turns reading the fairy tale in Danish and Chinese, to children who had gathered at the Chinese Museum for Women and Children in Beijing.

"The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen are household items in China," Peng said, adding that good fairy stories have a positive impact on children.

There were about 80 children at the reading, most of them around 10 years old.

The queen said she enjoyed the shared moments.

Li Yimeng, of Beijing Chaoyang Foreign Language School, said she has learned that the Danish queen is hailed as the most approachable monarch in northern Europe.

"I think she deserves the title," said the 11-year-old Li. "I love the story the queen and Ms Peng told us. I think it told us that no matter where you were born, you can finally present your own beauty."

The two women also viewed an exhibition at the museum about the circulation of Andersen's fairy tales in China.

"It has been 100 years since the first Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, was translated into Chinese," said Torben Jeppesen, director of Denmark's Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

Musician Flemming Welander of the Danish Royal Guards band, which is traveling with the queen to play music for certain occasions, said he found the Chinese children to be "very nice and sweet".

The band picked up a piece of music created in the 1850s in Chinese style by Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye for the queen's meeting with the children.

Accompanied by the largest entourage ever in Danish history to travel on a state visit, the queen set aside her country's custom that the monarch visits a distant foreign country only once during a reign. This was her second visit to China, the previous one being in 1979.

Peng and the queen also jointly initiated the China-Denmark Season of Culture on Friday.

Contact the writers at lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 04/26/2014 page3)