Royalty and statesmen

Ariane, Alexia and Amalia were head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd when their parents took them to enjoy the festivities in honour of Black Peter, the emissary who announces the coming of his master Saint Nicholas
Photo: AFP
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Maxima and Willem give the girls a lift with Christmas pageant outing

24 NOVEMBER 2008
Princess Maxima of The Netherlands and her family made a happy party of five as they headed out to a pre-Christmas carnival. Blending into the crowd like any other parents, the Argentine-born royal and her husband Willem-Alexander hoisted their daughters on to their shoulders so they could get a closer look at the Saint Nicholas pageant in the town of Wassennar.

The weekend's festivities were held in honour of Black Peter, the page who in local folklore heralds the arrival of Saint Nicholas the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus on December 5.

Christmas is an extra special time in the royal household as the couple's eldest Amalia celebrates her birthday two days after the feast of Saint Nicholas. This year the little girl turns five, while her sisters Alexia and Ariane are three and one respectively.

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