9 MAY 2006

The Dutch royal family has found the perfect way to let the pressures of their official duties drift away. Crown Prince Willem-Alexander was snapped along with his wife Maxima and children Catharina, known as Amalia, and Alexia as they stepped aboard the beautiful Groene Draeck sailing ship.

Casually dressed in an open-necked shirt and white slacks, the future king held little Alexia, who celebrates her first birthday next month, in his arms. The tot's big sister, who has already reached the ripe old age of two-and-a-half, is a little more independent these days, so her parents made sure she was wearing a life jacket for safety.

There was no danger of the youngster wandering off on her own, though, as she stuck close to her family, holding hands with her mum, Princess Maxima, as they waved to well-wishers from the deck of the ship. Amalia was also keeping a firm grip on the fingers of her grandmother, Queen Beatrix, who joined the family for their afternoon of nautical fun.

Holland's enormously popular monarch has been spending a lot of time with the family of her son and heir in recent months. She joined them for a two-week visit to Argentina, the birthplace of her daughter-in-law, in March. And the crown couple were also on hand to help her celebrate 26 years on the throne when the Netherlands marked Queen's Day last month.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
Willem-Alexander, with little Alexia in his arms, stands on the deck of the ship alongside Maxima, Beatrix and AmaliaPhoto: © RexClick on photos for gallery
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Amalia, who will turn three later this year, was wearing a life jacket for safetyPhoto: © Rex