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Tearful Queen Máxima of the Netherlands makes rare statement about sister's death

The Dutch queen flew back to Argentina to attend her sister's funeral

Ainhoa Barcelona

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands tearfully paid tribute to her younger sister Ines, who died two weeks ago, as she returned to royal duties on Tuesday. The Dutch queen gave a rare statement during her visit to the UMC Groningen Proton Therapy Center, which was her first official appearance since her sister's death.

"I'm so pleased to be back at work at this centre, which helps so many people suffering from cancer," said Máxima. "People who are ill, but who haven't lost hope to recover. My sweet and talented younger sister Ines was also ill. She was unable to find happiness and sadly couldn't get better. Our only consolation is to think that she has finally found peace."

The queen's sister sadly died earlier this month:

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Máxima, 47, added: "I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has sent cards and messages. It's been such a great help. I also want to thank the press for respecting our family's privacy. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

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Máxima's sister Ines sadly died of an apparent suicide earlier this month aged 33. She was found at her home in Buenos Aires. The Dutch royal, her husband King Willem-Alexander and their three daughters Princesses Amalia, Alexia and Ariane immediately flew to Máxima's native Argentina to attend the funeral. The queen also took a break from her royal duties and did not accompany her husband on his scheduled tour of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Maxima returned to royal duties on Tuesday

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Inés, who worked for the government, is believed to have suffered from depression and mental health issues. She was the godmother of Máxima's youngest daughter Princess Ariane, 11, and was the youngest child of the late Jorge Zorreguieta and María del Carmen Cerruti Carricart. Máxima has two brothers, Juan and Martin, and three half-sisters, Maria, Dolores and Angeles.