20 OCTOBER 2006

Princess Mathilde of Belgium and the Netherland's Princess Maxima took a fashionable approach to keeping out the autumn chill this week as they both donned statement-making dress coats for an art exhibition in the Hague.

Mathilde, glamorous in a crushed velvet number, and her host Maxima, who was wearing a fitted coat embellished with glittering sequins, had joined forces to open a new exhibition at the Netherlands' renowned Mauritshuis gallery – which houses the Johannes Vermeer masterpiece Girl With A Pearl Earring.

A couple of young royal fans who presented the pretty princesses with bouquets could have been forgiven for feeling a little over-awed by their regal task. But the down-to-earth royal mums put them at ease immediately with their warm smiles.

Argentine-born Maxima, 35, and her husband Prince Willem Alexander, who are expecting their third child together next April, had invited their Belgian counterparts to help open the exhibition of Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder. The works will be on display until the end of January.

Photo: ©
Mathilde and Maxima stole the limelight from their husbands on Thursday as they wowed onlookers with their stylish autumn ensemblesPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Two young boys were thrilled to receive a royal audience with the princesses, to whom they presented flowers Photo: © Getty Images
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