Focused, with her eyes narrowed in concentration, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands showed her competitive streak when she went bowling with husband Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. The Dutch royals went head-to-head as they lent their profile to Holland's annual volunteer drive, Holland in Action. This year, they visited a homeless shelter in Utrecht, and happily stepped up when invited to the sporting challenge by the centre's patrons and volunteers.
Maxima and Willem-Alexander have been making a flurry of public appearances before Queen Beatrix's abdication on 30 April. Both want to be as visible as possible before Willem-Alexander replaces his mother on the throne and Maxima becomes his Queen consort. While the Dutch heir and his wife were making an impression at the bowling alley, Queen Beatrix also did her bit for Volunteer Day, rolling up her sleeves to help out at a farm in the town of Dordrecht. Beatrix helped staff with their daily workload, and that meant a day of mucking out stables and feeding animals. Despite the hands-on nature of the work, Beatrix was clearly in her element. This is the ninth consecutive year that the Netherlands has celebrated Holland in Action – a day dedicated to raising awareness and recruiting potential volunteers in the country. The annual event is a regular fixture for the entire Dutch royal family. Last year, Maxima volunteered at a girl scout group, where she helped paint, clean, and restore their clubhouse. And Beatrix was recruited to help out at a dog shelter.
That visit came at a crucial time for the Queen – her son Prince Johan Friso was left fighting for his life after a skiing accident the previous month. The 44-year-old was trapped under the snow for 15 minutes and his brain was starved of oxygen while rescuers tried to locate him. Since the accident, Johan Friso has been receiving specialist care in London's prestigious Wellington hospital. His treatment continues as the Dutch royal household prepares to enter a new era on 30 April.