Prince Joachim of Denmark

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am

FARM STORY The estate farm is roughly 1,000 hectares. The Christmas tree [area] amounts to 50 hectares - not a lot in terms of land but there is a relatively high yield and turnover on Christmas trees.

The rest of the land is divided into roughly 200 hectares of forest, where I rear pheasants for shooting. The rest is grazeland - for cattle production for meat - and arable land for wheat, barley, rye.

I'm a partner in a company that seeks to add value to our private land. Among other things, we produce beer, towards which some of the barley goes. Through outsourced production, we make 1 million litres of beer per annum. We also produce a special Danish aquavit. It's an acquired taste. It's our equivalent to maotai; not what you would typically drink as an aperitif or digestif.

Just 50 years ago, a farm this size would have had well over 100 staff. Today, we have four. Things have changed - farm- ing is intensely mechanised. [Our] 900 cattle need just 11/2people to take care of them. Not that I'd necessarily be the guy sitting on the harvester, but for showing good face, I try to be there as much as I can at import- ant moments. Harvest in Denmark is typically in August but we also have the Christmas-tree harvest in October, November and other dates around the year.

BACK TO NATURE We have been in the [Christmas tree] business in Hong Kong for about 10 years. When I lived and worked here [in 1993, in shipping], the quality of Christmas trees was not what I regarded as high. I said there must be a market that we can tender for, that we should be able to enter. It wasn't as easy as I thought. Eventually I was able to combine what I knew about transport and about how to get things from production to wholesale. Now we sell between 1,500 and 2,000 trees per annum.

Apart from abiding to rigorous environmentally sound production procedures, we are happy to say this is a CO2-neutral product. We haven't cut down natural forests in the process - the trees are grown on ordinary farm land - and when the tree is dumped, it returns to nature - it's not plastic.

SAILS NETWORK I worked at Maersk for two years, one in Hong Kong and one in Paris. The cheapest, easiest, environmentally friendliest way of transporting goods across the world is by ship. But ships run on fossil fuel and, aside from the environmental impact, fuel emissions can have sulphur oxides, which are poisonous to humans.

Hong Kong may be very environmentally conscious but it also could be an example to its great neighbour to the north [as a city that] not only cares about the environment but also about health. This is one of the things that the shipping industry can help with, by using low-sulphur fuel. I hope the impact from [the recent agreement among shippers in Hong Kong to use cleaner fuel while in port] will reach the general shipping business, but also parallelise across other sectors.

ROYAL PAINS Out of almost 200 independent countries, very few are monarchies and each is different. The idea of European monarchies in general is to represent your people, not only abroad but at home. There is constantly a demand for participation; you can't just sit there and say, 'I am royalty.' An issue many members of royalty eventually face is, what they now do that they didn't or couldn't or wouldn't do 100 years ago. If we've got to live by the ways of society today, then we should [work and have] private interests in investment, business and culture.

At the same time we can never throw away the official part of us. We can go somewhere privately for a holiday but we will always be associated with being royalty in an active monarchy. And you always have to remember to represent that as best as you can.

NOBLESSE OBLIGE My [older] brother is first in line to the throne, then his two children. He has two more on the way, so I'm slowly stepping down the line, which suits me fine. My sons will be one step further from centre stage than I am. Theoretically, they will never have to worry about stepping up as king, touch wood. What I try to teach them is to be aware of who they are - and the advantages and the disadvantages - because there are a lot of people who have a great interest in what they do, and not always for kind reasons. They must know that good behaviour will get them very far. They must also feel that they can live freely and not be tied or caged. It should be a balanced blend of those two things.

I was nine when I was told that the estate would be mine and that farming would be my future. I mean, at nine you don't really know the facts and realities of life - that comes later.

I will say to them, 'Here is what Daddy does and there is a thing called inheritance but don't fear and don't necessarily expect either. If you feel like it, and are up to it, then that's fine.'

One hundred Christmas trees from Prince Joachim's Schackenborg Castle estate farm, decorated and lit, will be on display until January 2 in Pacific Place, Admiralty.