Fifteen Years Ago: Engagement of Willem-Alexander and Máxima

  March 30, 2016 at 4:56 pm by

On 30 March 2001 the engagement of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta was announced at 18:00 during a live broadcast for television and radio. A happy Queen Beatrix announced the good news with the words: ‘it is for my husband and I a great joy to announce the engagement of our son Willem-Alexander to Máxima Zorreguieta’.

The Queen added that she had gotten to know Máxima as an intelligent and modern woman, courageous and loyal to those that she holds dear. The queen ended her speech with the words:’we rejoice in their happiness’. After Beatrix it was the turn of Prince Claus to adda few words ‘as pater familias’. The prince -who was visibly ill- praised Máxima’s knowledge of the Dutch language, which he said was much better than that of his own at the time of his engagement. After more words by the engaged couple the four hugged and kissed each other in front of the camera.

After the short announcement it was the turn of Prime Minister Wim Kok. The engagement turned out to be a difficult one: Máxima’s father Jorge Zorreguieta had served as under minister of agriculture in the government of Argentina’s dictator Videla. The prime minister announced that Máxima’s father had decided not to attend the wedding. Mr. Zorreguieta was persuaded to do so after several meetings with Minister of State Max van der Stoel. He added that Prof. Baud’s conclusion that Mr. Zorreguieta must have known about the atrocities of the regime, made it impossible for him to be received as a guest of the Dutch government.

It now was the turn of the engaged couple to face the lions: the Dutch press. According to journalist/historian Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen the atmosphere in the ballroom of Noordeinde Palace was frosty at the very best. The press had been very critical about Máxima’s father and about recent comments of the Crown Prince. During the press conference the atmosphere changed. Máxima was able to charm her way into the hearts of the public right away. Most Dutch were happy with the choice of the crown prince and relieved that the elegant solution of the prime minister prevented a constitutional crisis.

After the press conference the couple stepped outside the palace to meet well wishers that had gathered on the street:

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