How Princess Maxima Won Over A Nation
Princess Maxima’s entrance into the Dutch royal house was a sensation.
While her family’s links to a fallen dictatorship were scrutinised by parliament, the gregarious Latin American charmed the nation.
Now she is queen, with the abdication of her mother-in-law Queen Beatrix on 30 April. So how did this unconventional royal captivate a country so committed to rules and protocol?
The first time I met Maxima she was wearing a wetsuit, waving exuberantly as crowds strained against security cordons to capture a close-up of their most adored royal.
The princess plunged into the canal and swam through Amsterdam: Her willingness to brave the city’s freezing waters for charity is symbolic of a character that has captured the Dutch imagination.
“She came and she conquered,” says Dutch historian Henk te Velde.
He adds that her readiness to speak to the people in their own language when she married Crown Prince Willem-Alexander also went down well.
“People were struck by the fact that as soon as she came she started to learn Dutch,” says Mr te Velde. “We were impressed. It showed she has respect and was willing to make an effort to understand us.
“Now she even makes jokes in Dutch.”
Maxima’s Latin American roots add to her appeal, according to Han van Bree, a historian who specialises in the Dutch royal family.
“She is exotic, she has passion and sparkle and flamboyance and she doesn’t try to be distant like Beatrix,” he says. “We love her for that, people can feel the authenticity.”
But it would be doing Maxima a disservice to suggest her appeal lies in little more than teaching her Dutch husband how to tango.
Maxima studied economics and before meeting Prince Willem-Alexander at a party in Seville, she was working for Deutsche Bank in New York.
What do people on the streets of Amsterdam think about their royal family?
Her financial background helped win her the job of UN Secretary-General’s special advocate for inclusive finance.
She is involved in domestic debates on the divisive subjects of immigration and integration – something that has, in the past, put her at odds with the country’s influential right wing.
Maxima is also a prominent proponent of gay rights. One of her first appearances as queen will be at a two-day international gay rights summit in The Hague.
‘A bit stiff’
Willem-Alexander has been aware of his “date with destiny” since he was a child. Mr Van Bree believes this was not something he was looking forward to.
Since he was a boy, Willem-Alexander has had an awkward relationship with the press.
“He didn’t tell the media to ‘go to hell’ as it was reported when he was 11, but it was something close to that,” says Mr Van Bree.
During his student days in the quiet city of Leiden, there was an unfortunate photo taken of Willem-Alexander clutching a pint of beer that generated the seemingly unshakable nickname “Prince Pils”.
This apparently frustrated the future king greatly.
In an interview in 1997, he said: “My image is not something that keeps me busy every day. But I find it sad that one picture in a paper of me holding a glass has more influence on my image than… years of training.”
The prince would go on to learn many lessons on how to keep the Dutch people on his side.
“He was seen as the jet-set prince, ‘chasing skirts’. He was always a bit timid in public, a bit stiff,” says Mr te Velde, a professor of Dutch History at Leiden University. “But now he looks more relaxed, he is being more himself and he looks ready now and Maxima has definitely helped.”
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands – now princess – praised her daughter-in-law publicly
Maxima’s father did not attend her wedding and is not on the inauguration guest list either. Instead of joining the dignitaries descending on Amsterdam, Jorge Zorreguieta will watch his daughter become queen on television.
Mr Zorreguieta was the agriculture minister during Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship, serving during the country’s infamous Dirty War. Though Maxima was a child at the time, the link initially created some controversy.
There was a campaign to have Mr Zorreguieta arrested and put on trial for crimes against humanity if he entered the Netherlands. This has since been dismissed – but there may again be problems if charges are ever brought against him in Argentina.
The question of Maxima’s suitability was even debated in the Dutch parliament.
However, Queen Beatrix came to the rescue with a royal seal of approval.
She appeared alongside the new couple on her 63rd birthday and, during a rare public appearance to announce their engagement, the queen described her daughter-in-law as “an intelligent modern woman”.
Maxima has demonstrated considerable dexterity in conforming to public protocol while maintaining private ties between her father and his so-called triple-A granddaughters – the unusual nickname given to the royal couple’s daughters Amalia, Alexia and Ariene.
“That is how I hope people will judge our family,” Willem-Alexander once said.
Maxima’s choice of outfit for her inauguration was the subject of much speculation, of course.
On the big day she wore a pale rose-coloured dress adorned with a huge bow on her left shoulder.
She is renowned for her flamboyant style, mixing elegant gowns and bold, block colours. From a canary yellow tunic trouser suit during a state visit to Brunei to a cascading champagne gown at the 2011 state opening of parliament.
Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima of The Netherlands attend the Gala dinner for the wedding of Prince Guillaume Of Luxembourg and Stephanie de Lannoy at the Grand-ducal Palace on October 19, 2012 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg Maxima wore royal regalia to the wedding of Prince Guillaume Of Luxembourg in 2012
Maxima is fluent in fashion and knows how to utilise its power of expression. Her extravagant ivory Mikado silk wedding gown was by Italian designer Valentino. More recently Maxima has shopped locally, showcasing stunning creations by a small Amsterdam-based atelier, Jan Taminiau.
For the royal couple’s only televised interview prior to the abdication – watched by 4.6 million viewers, roughly a quarter of the population – Maxima’s regal blue dress matched her husband’s tie.
Mr Van Bree, who has met Maxima, interpreted this as a deliberate effort not to outshine Willem-Alexander.
He says: “She was not like herself – very reserved, very quiet… Normally she is electrifying with so much to say, but it was maybe only 20% Maxima and the rest was Willem-Alexander. It is his big day and I think she is making a conscious effort not to attract so much attention to herself.”
She has learnt from past mistakes, he adds.
“It’s important she shows that she knows her place – by the king’s side and not queen in her own right.”
But it will be hard for a woman who revels in refined glamour to rein in her exuberant style.
She may be playing a supporting role, but it is a vital one.
In Henk te Velde’s words, she is becoming the Dutch king’s “most important adviser” and what she wears matters.
Article By Anna Holligan, BBC News
Willem-Alexander Enthroned As The Netherlands king
Dutch King Willem-Alexander was sworn in at a solemn ceremonial occasion on Tuesday as the pick of Europe’s monarchs-in-waiting watched on, invoking the question of which of them could be next.
Willem-Alexander, 46, was invested as Netherlands’ first king in over 120 years, in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk church before 2,000 invitees, amongst them various crown princes and princesses.
Tradition prescribes that reigning sovereigns are not asked, in order not to eclipse the new king’s moment of glory.
Forefront amidst the ‘blue-bloods’ was Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, who looked on attentively from a front-row seat as the ceremony progressed. “No doubt he watched the ceremony today with longing in his heart,” stated royal expert Jeroen Snel, presenter of the Dutch weekly royalty show Blauw Bloed (Blue Blood).
“You must remember that he was also present when queen Beatrix was enthroned in 1980 and it must be a bit of a bitter pill for him to swallow,” Snel told AFP.
Dissimilar to Dutch queen Beatrix, 75, who abdicated following a reign of 33 years, to hand over to what she titled “a new generation”, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has suggested she has no designs to abdicate.
Queen Elizabeth, 87, is approaching her 61st year on the throne and certain public opinion polls have revealed the British public are more prepared to witness Charles’ oldest son, William and his wife Kate assume the royal reins.
Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe, 45, was likewise in attendance, amongst rising demands for his father King Juan Carlos, 75, to step down following a few recent scandals.
The king acquired broad respect for assisting in manoeuvring Spain through a political passage following the demise of Francisco Franco, however a recent public opinion poll demonstrated 53 percent would reject the king.
Likewise tagged by gossip, is Swedish King Carl Gustav XVI, who’s reigned for almost 40 years and finds himself on a regular basis being satirised in the Swedish media.
His tremendously popular 35-year-old daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, clad in a beautiful beige pearl dress and chic hat, is anticipated to succeed her father.
However of course, the individual who stole the show on Tuesday was naturally King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima’s eldest daughter, Catharina-Amalia, 9, next in line to the throne.
Attired in coordinated blue outfits, the fresh Princess of Orange and her 2 sisters, Alexia and Ariane were seated close to their grandmother, forthwith Princess Beatrix, throughout the ceremonial occasion.
Princess Maxima – Argentina’s First Queen
At the end of this month, Princess Maxima Zorreguieta will have the honour of being the first Argentinian to become a queen. Beatrix of the Netherlands will signal her abdication in public and pass on the throne to her first son, Willem-Alexander, the husband of Maxima and father of her 3 children.
The expectation in the Netherlands rises daily and “Maximamania” has just erupted. The citizens living in this country of tulips and bikes simply love the natural, effervescent blonde Princess who’s won over their hearts and minds.
It will be in some ways be a bittersweet occasion for Princess Maxima, as her family won’t be attending the ceremonial occasion, as they were at her marriage. It seems that Princess Maxima herself has arrived at the choice, not wanting the history of her father, who served as minister during the dictatorship in Argentina, to befog the persona of the crown that will belong to her and her endearing family.
Notwithstanding, Princess Maxima and Willem-Alexander will be besieged by the citizens of the Netherlands and numerous European witnesses who will make a point of being at the royal palace in Amsterdam for the occassion.
In the best British fashion, the main routes of The Netherlands are occupied with merchants merchandising scarves, mugs, pillows and even dishes with the Modern king and queen’s faces printed on them.
Summer Photosession for Dutch Crown Princely Family 2012
It’s that time of year again – summer family photosessions! The first for 2012 is the Dutch Crown Princely family, who allowed the 50 members of the media to film and photograph them at the De Horsten estate in Waassenaar.
See more photos here!
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Princess Maxima and their three daughters – Princesses Catharina-Amalia, age 8, Alexia, who is 7 and Ariane, age 5 – arrived for the shoot on bicycles. The three young Princesses wore matching pink dresses.
During the photosession, the three girls ran around the field to give the photographers something interesting to shoot. They also gathered with their parents, and even Catharina-Amalia rode her bicycle on the grass.
After the official shoot, the family rode away – only for Willem-Alexander and Maxima to return to talk to the reporters. They told the media that it was their daughters’ decision to wear matching dresses as they are “headstrong”.
“They stand firm in their shoes,” added Willem-Alexander. “They are doing very well in school and have great reports.”
The Princesses are also busy with horseback riding, hockey, judo and the violin and piano lessons. They all also received their swimming certificates and can jump into swimming pools without any anxiety from their parents.
But the interview soon turned towards Willem-Alexander’s brother, Prince Johan Friso, who is still at a London hospital in a coma following an avalanche in Austria in February. The Crown Prince expressed his gratitude for the worldwide support he and his family have received.
But he also admitted that it has been difficult for him to come to terms with the state his brother is in.
Check out more photos of this lovely family here and here!
Source: Noordhollands Dagblad, Nieuws
Bittersweet Queen’s Day for Dutch Royals
April 30th marks Koninginnedag – or Queen’s Day in the Netherlands. It is a day to celebrate the royal family and the Dutch royals oversee the festivities in certain parts of the country. Normally it is a fun day for the royals, but this year someone is missing.
See more photos of Queen's Day here!
That someone is Queen Beatrix’s second son, Prince Johan Friso, who remains in a coma following an avalanche back in February.
He was not far from his family’s thoughts, and his mother expressed her sadness over him missing in a speech.
“It is a pity and sad that our family isn’t complete today.But I’m very grateful for all the warmth and wishes we have seen and heard here today and I will pass it on,” Her Majesty said to a crowd in Rhenen.
Despite the bittersweet realization that Johan Friso was not present for Queen’s Day, his family carried on with the celebrations.
Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima took part in a tug-of-war contest, and the Crown Prince even participated in a toilet-bowl-tossing contest.
A recent poll of 20,000 people shows the Dutch royals are still very popular, with 80 percent satisfied with Queen Beatrix. However, Princess Maxima remains the most loved member of the House of Orange.
Sources: Telegraaf, MSNBC, Expatica
Dutch Royals Welcome President of Turkey
The Netherlands’ royal trio welcomed to their country, President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, on Tuesday. Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima will be the President, and First Lady Hayrunnisa Gul’s hosts during their three state visit.
Click here to view image gallery
At the palace in Amsterdam, there was a welcoming ceremony that included the playing of the national anthems and inspections of the honor guards.
Afterward, President Gul laid a wreath at the National Monument on the Dam. He then opened an exhibit at the Amsterdam Museum about the early trade between Netherlands and Turkey.
Later on, the Crown Princely couple accompanied the President to the De Bazel conference center for a meeting with representatives of Dutch and Turkish businesses. They all then attended the Dutch-Turkish Bussiness Forum at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam.
While that was going on, First Lady Hayrunnisa Gul was with Queen Beatrix’s sister, Princess Margriet, who showed her around the Museum of Bags and Purses.
In the evening, a state gala was held at the palace in honor of the Turkish guests.
Tomorrow will see the President meet with Dutch government members, and have lunch with them as overseen by Queen Beatrix. He will also visit the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Later in the evening, President Gul and his wife will accompany the Dutch royals to a concert by the Turkish Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.
After opening an exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Mr. and Mrs. Gul will end their visit and leave for Turkey.