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Princess Maxima's triumph: from doubts to Dutch queen

26 FEBRUARY 2013

When Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima ascend the throne on 30th April, the Netherlands will erupt in celebrations as the Argentinian princess they've come to see as their own becomes Queen consort.

But as Maxima steps out onto the balcony she may shed a few tears as she notes the absence of her parents and the memory of the days when praise didn't come so easily. Needless to say, the two things aren't unrelated.

 

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Since her wedding day in 2002, Maxima has had to choose between a public relationship with her family and the acceptance of  Dutch people who object to the fact that her father was a former minister of Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina's military dictatorship.

From 1976, Jorge Zorreguieta served as General Videla's Secretary of Agriculture at a time when Argentina was going through some of the worst moments of its history and thousands of people disappeared during what was known as the 'Dirty War'.

Maxima was just a schoolgirl, developing the empathy, interest and intellect which she applies to her job today. But her family's past still reflected on her when she came to marry her prince more than two decades later.

 

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Dutch politician Jan Van Walsen articulated the problem when he said: "The royal family must embody the symbol of our nation. How can Maxima, whose father is involved in the disappearance of thirty thousand people, be our Queen? We cannot accept it, knowing that her father did not express remorse."

Willem-Alexander absorbed every last drop of pressure that rained upon him and made it clear that if Maxima couldn't be on the Dutch throne one day, then neither could he.

Without waiting for parliamentary approval, he proposed marriage at a skating rink, with roses and champagne. Love triumphed and on 30 March, 2001, Queen Beatrix, accompanied by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, solemnly announced the couple's engagement.

Twelve years later the dust has settled and Maxima has won over her adopted homeland with brains, beauty and the birth of three little girls; Princesses Alexia, Ariane and Amalia, who will become heir to the Dutch throne.

On 30 April, Maxima will be styled Queen consort, but at the end of the day, she has reigned long before taking the title.

 

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