Queen Máxima of the Netherlands: 10 facts about the Dutch royal on her 44th birthday

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands celebrates her 44th birthday on 17 May. To honour the occasion, HELLO! Online has gathered a list of ten facts about the Dutch monarch you may not have known.

1. The future queen consort was born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti on 17 May 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Her parents Jorge Zorreguieta and Maria del Carmen Cerruit Carricart also had two sons and another daughter.

Máxima also has three half-sisters from her father's first marriage.

2. Determined and motivated, Máxima studied while working as an investment banker and in 1995, she graduated with a degree in economics from the Pontificial Catholic University of Argentina.

3. Máxima's expertise soon allowed her to work around the world including Brussels and New York. However it would be in Spain, in 1999, when she would meet a handsome man who introduced himself as "Alexander". 
The pair soon hit it off, and agreed to meet two weeks later in New York. Máxima later revealed that she thought the prince was joking when he revealed he was a member of the Dutch Royal Family.

4. Despite her blossoming romance with a future king, Máxima kept her new beau's identity hidden from her family for some time. "I would tell them something different (about Willem-Alexander) every time but at some point there was nothing for it than to say: 'He's the Prince of the Netherlands.'"

5. In March 2001 Willem-Alexander and Máxima announced their engagement. 
The news was met with some controversy in the Netherlands due to Máxima's father Jorge's position as an official of the Argentine junta in the 1970s, during the country's brutal military dictatorship. As a result Máxima made the hard decision not to invite her parents to her wedding.

A year later, in February 2002, the couple married in front of royals and dignitaries from around the world including Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Queen Sofia of Spain and the late Nelson Mandela.

The bride looked stunning in an ivory mikado silk dress, with a five metre long embroidered lace train.

6. Just 16 months after their glorious wedding, it was revealed Máxima was expecting the couple's first child. 
"I was so happy," she exclaimed. "I couldn't believe it!"

Their first baby, Princess Catharina-Amalia, was born on 7 December 2003 and their second, Princess Alexia Juliana followed in June 2005. 
A third girl, Princess Ariane, joined the family on 10 April 2007. Willem-Alexander later joked they had chosen three names beginning with an A to get a triple AAA rating.

7. In April 2013 Máxima became the first Dutch queen consort since 1890 when her husband became King Willem-Alexander, following his mother Queen Beatrix's abdication.

8. Máxima undertakes royal duties across the world to represent the Netherlands and in April 2011 she travelled to London with her husband to attend the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding at Westminster Abbey. 

The couple were spotted looking on excitedly as Prince William made his entrance.

9. Máxima has formed a close friendship with Princess Charlene of Monaco. Last year, the princess praised the support the Dutch royal has given to her. "Máxima has been unbelievably supportive if I need help with anything," Charlene revealed. "Because she came from Argentina and moved to Holland, we have made similar lifestyle choices. She has given me advice that I identified with."

10. The popular queen has also become one of the first royals around the world to support gay rights and one of her first appearances as queen included an appearance at a two-day international gay rights summit in The Hague.