Spotlight Bio: Queen Maxima

20140613-093931-34771939.jpg Little did Maxima Zorreguieta know that a casual party in Seville, Spain, would change the course of her life.

Maxima’s bright smile caught the eye of a young man in attendance. The pair chatted amiably, but the pretty Argentinian admitted later that she completely forgot who he was soon after. Little did she know that he was the heir to the Dutch throne: Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange.

Charmed by the outgoing Maxima, Willem-Alexander began courting her. Maxima was fun-loving as well as professional and intelligent. With a degree in Economics under her belt and a career working for Deustche Bank in New York, the multilingual Maxima was the perfect package for a potential queen.

They tried to keep the relationship as low-key as possible to retain their privacy, but eventually Maxima revealed the identity of her partner to her curious family. The Zorreguietas were stunned to learn that Willem-Alexander was a prince. The family warmly welcomed him with open arms, and the Dutch royals welcomed Maxima into their fold with equal warmth and enthusiasm. Then, in August 1999, Willem-Alexander and Maxima were spotted together on the royal yacht. The news got out quickly – the prince may have found his princess!

In 2001, Willem-Alexander asked Maxima to be his princess and proposed with a spectacular orange diamond, the national color of the Netherlands. Maxima accepted, and the wedding planning kicked into high gear.

At the time of their betrothal, it came to light that Maxima’s father, Jorge Zorreguieta, was the agricultural minister for Jorge Videla’s military dictatorship in Argentina during the 1970s. It was a brutal period in Argentina’s history and opponents of the regime mysteriously disappeared. The Dutch government and the public were distressed at the revelations, but despite concern over Zorreguieta’s past, many felt that it wasn’t fair to blame Maxima for her father’s alleged sins. She had only been a child when the junta was in power.

Willem-Alexander’s parents, Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, went before the public to show their support for Maxima and the marriage. To preserve diplomacy, Mr. Zorreguieta did not attend his daughter’s wedding.

The bride-to-be increased her standing among her new countrymen during the engagement press conference. When the assembled press asked Maxima questions, she answered in near-fluent Dutch. She had learned the language within a couple of years of meeting Willem-Alexander.

The royal couple wed on February 2, 2002. The throng of people awaiting them was immense, lining the streets for miles culminating in a huge orange crowd outside the church. After a touching and emotional ceremony, the prince and his new princess greeted the crowds with a wave and a kiss.

The following year, their first child was born. Princess Catharina-Amalia, better known as Amalia, made her debut on December 7th, 2003. Two more siblings, sisters Alexia (June 26, 2005) and Ariane (April 10, 2007) joined the family.

The Crown Prince and Princess allowed photo shoots during their family vacations at their villa in Waasenaar. When all of the royals gathered in Austria for their skiing holidays, the press also got to photograph the young families of Queen Beatrix’s sons. This was the agreement between the royal family and the media – if they hold a scheduled photoshoot, and then the press would respect their privacy and leave the family to take their holiday without intrusion.

The Dutch royals were enjoying their expanding family when tragedy struck. Willem-Alexander’s younger  brother, Prince Friso, was hurt in a skiing accident in February 2012. Friso had deftly skied the swooping Austrian slopes for most of his life, but one day he decided to go off-piste despite avalanche warnings in the area. It was a mistake that would eventually cost him his life.

After being buried in snow and oxygen-starved beyond repair, Friso was put into a coma from which he’d never recover. Over a year later, the family made the painful decision to remove him from life support.

A New Reign

After reigning for 33 years, Beatrix abdicated in April 2013 in favor of Willem-Alexander. It was said that she was stepping down not only because of tradition, but also due to the strain of Friso’s condition and his death.

Beatrix reverted to the style of Princess, and Willem-Alexander assumed the mantle of sovereignty. Maxima was now Queen consort.

Reflecting on her life and work during her time as a princess, the down-to-earth Maxima told Vanity Fair magazine that “Everything is enrichment. I hope that I can be a better princess because I am a mother,” she said. “I hope that I can become a better advocate for microfinance because now I understand women have to put meals every evening on the tables.”

There is no doubt that Maxima herself has enriched the royal family and The Netherlands.

Curriculum Vitae:
Earned a bilingual baccalaureate
Has degree in Economics
Worked as an investment banker

Skills:
Fluent in English, German, Dutch and Spanish

Committees & Patronages:
+ The Orange Fund
+ Prince Claus Chair
+ Money Wise Platform
+ Committee for Enterprise and Finance
+ UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA)
+ Honorary chair of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion

Previously:

+ Part of the UN Advisors Group to the International Year of Microcredit
+ Member of the Board of Trustees of the Chair in Management of Diversity and Integration at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Investiture 2013: Maxima Is Sure To Shine

April 30th will be a bittersweet day. We’re all looking forward to the investiture of Prince Willem-Alexander, but we will miss Queen Beatrix.

Not only will we miss Beatrix as queen, but we will miss those unmistakable hats and her glorious array of jewels. Oh, they’ll still be around, but it won’t be the same. The full-time jewel and tiara-wearing will fall to Maxima, who is sure to shine as King Willem-Alexander’s queen consort.


We know Maxima, and she’s not going to disappoint. Her hats are not as distinct as those of Queen Beatrix, but she will certainly pull her weight in the jewel department. Her record as a princess bears that out – if it’s not colorful statement jewelry, then Maxima is wearing the heck out of a set of rubies, emeralds, or diamonds. I can hardly wait for her “queen style”.

Willem-Alexander will wear a tail coat with white tie under the royal mantle, but Maxima will surely pull out all the stops with a gorgeous gown and magnificent suite. As with Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding, I am going to try and guess which tiara will be worn for the event! A few ideas (click to enlarge images):

maxima_peacockThe Peacock Tiara is part of a huge ruby and diamond set which includes this matching necklace.

The little jewel “spray”, or peacock motif, on the tiara is actually a removable piece. This is not the only ruby darling up Maxima’s well-tailored sleeve, however!

ruby mellerio The Ruby Mellerio tiara We’ve heard the Mellerio name before – he’s a French jeweler famous for creating several Dutch tiaras as well as tiaras belonging to Spanish royals (Mellerio Shell and Floral tiaras). This ruby parure, the tiara worn by Maxima at left, was ordered by King Willem III for his second wife, Queen Emma.

DiamondbeandeauThe Diamond Bandeau Tiara was created for Queen Juliana using large diamonds that her grandmother, Queen Emma, had received as a wedding gift.

Maxima has worn this tiara on several occasions. At left, she dons the Bandeau for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. The sumptuous diamond rocks are set in platinum.

max stars Maxima’s ‘Stars’ wedding tiara – These beauts belonged to Queen Emma. Maxima has worn this tiara on several occasions and donned it for her wedding day to Willem-Alexander.

I didn’t realize that another tiara like this existed. Interestingly, the Mountbatten family has a similar tiara within their family. If you thought a fringe tiara was pointy, guess again!

aquamarinesAquamarines are amazing. These brilliant blue gems have graced the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Swedish princesses, and of course, the Dutch royal ladies.

These particular aquamarines seen on Maxima are Brazilian Aquamarines, an eighteenth birthday present for Princess Juliana from her parents. The tiara is a diamond and aquamarine bandeau topped with seven large briolette cut aquamarine stones (a briolette is an elongated pear-shaped gemstone cut with facets, and is often styled to hang as a bead).

Maxima pearlsThe Antique Peal tiara holds large, pear-shaped pearl spikes within an array of delicate diamond petals. The spikes are removable for a more subtle look without losing sparkle.

Maxima has worn the tiara both ways, and at left we see her in the tiara’s full glory for one of her official 40th birthday portraits in 2011 (photo by Erwin Olaf).

What’s your preferred suite for Maxima? Do you think she’ll wear something other than these? Let me know in the comments below. Viva le Orange!

Thanks to:

Royal Magazin
Mad Hattery
Order of Splendor

Maxima Is Awesome

I really like Maxima. She is so much fun and a great sport, to boot.

Princess Maxima donned her cap and goggles for a swim in the canals of Amsterdam – all in the name of charity!

The princess took a swim for ALS, the incurable nerve and muscle disease. Maxima’s swim team included prominent Dutch athletes such as Pieter van den Hoogenband, Marleen Veldhuis, Femke Heemskerk, Ronald de Boer, John van Lottum, Edith Bosch and Maarten van der Weijden.

Tiara Tip to: Telegraaf.nl

Haute Royale: Princess Maxima in Wassenaar

HRH Princess Maxima was photographed for a family photo shoot in 2008. Her shirt is gorgeous:


Click on the photo to enlarge at original site [Life.com] Photo: Mark G. Renders/WireImage
Jul 11, 2008

I found a similar one quite by accident. I wear the shirt with khaki pants because it has more pink, but it can also be paired with navy blue like Maxima’s ensemble.

Since mine is sheer, I wear a white lace tank underneath:

Who is your style role model?

Japanese Imperial Rules: Is Marrying A Commoner the Only Way Out For Women?

Japanese Imperial Rules: Is Marrying A Commoner the Only Way Out For Women?

Princess Mako, a granddaughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, is set to marry her college sweetheart, Kei Komuro. Since Komuro is a commoner, Mako will lose her royal title and become a commoner herself. This has reignited the debate on women’s status and succession laws in Japan which currently favor males.

When a Japanese princess marries a commoner man, she loses her status and position within the Imperial family. She’s given a dowry and is never mentioned again, but when a commoner woman marries a Japanese prince, they are elevated to their husband’s royal rank. It’s an imbalance, to say the least, but given the treatment we’ve seen with Japanese Crown Princess Masako and other ladies, that title and lifestyle is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Mako’s paternal aunt, Sayako (Princess Nori) lost her title when she married a commoner in 2005. She was known simply as Mrs. Sayako Kuroda thereafter. She is not even mentioned as a member of the family on the Imperial family’s official website despite being the only daughter of the emperor.

The new Mrs. Kuroda didn’t seem too unhappy about it, though. As she embarked on married life, her parting words were about her feelings of “loneliness” and “unease” as a princess. She also took a shot at the Imperial Household Agency, the organization that tightly regulates the Imperial family’s life. Speaking out for her mother, Empress Michiko, Sayako stated that “Her Majesty collapsed due to unbearable fatigue and distress and lost her power of speech” after “being exposed to a great deal of criticism that had no ground in fact.”

It’s strange that life for Imperial women is so difficult. Japan can count eight Empresses among its rulers from as early as the 6th century until the 1600s, but after the Meiji Restoration in the 1800s, the monarchy became a male-only landscape designed to preserve the mystique and lineage of the Japanese royal line. It was dictated by the Imperial Household Agency and, as we have seen throughout the years, this has not been good for the well-being of Japanese royal women. Empress Michiko has suffered and her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Masako, has fared no better. The multilingual former diplomat gained her status upon her marriage to Crown Prince Naruhito, but she lost her independence and her spirit. Masako’s severe depression forced her to withdraw from the public eye, and was carefully managed by the strict and secretive Imperial Household Agency.

Masako’s difficulties were underscored when she could not bear a child for several years after her marriage to Naruhito. At long last, they were blessed with a baby girl whom they named Aiko. Her birth in 2001 threw the line of succession into question. The Crown Princess was unlikely to have more children after Aiko, and Naruhito’s brother Akishino had Princess Mako and Princess Kako as his heirs. Without a male in line for the future, Japan held its collective breath to see if the IHA and the Japanese government would allow an amendment to the succession laws.

Then a surprise – Prince Akishino announced that his wife was pregnant. On September 6, 2006, Princess Kiko gave birth to Prince Hisahito. The little prince was over a decade younger than his sisters and the first boy since Akishino’s birth in 1965.

Crown Princess Masako’s distress over her inability to produce a son became so intense that her husband publicly complained to the press, unheard of for the royal family and least of all a Crown Prince.

“Princess Masako, giving up her job as a diplomat to enter the Imperial Household, was greatly distressed that she was not allowed to make overseas visits for a long time,” the crown prince said. “There were developments that denied Princess Masako’s career as well as her personality.”

Sadly, Naruhito and Masako’s daughter Aiko is said to be suffering from stress and has missed months of school as a result. It seems that the cycle may continue.

Or will it?

Emperor Akihito, in delicate health at age 84, will step down soon. This is the first time a Japanese Emperor has abdicated in 200 years. Naruhito will ascend the throne and when he does, will he try to force a change in succession laws? It is my belief that he will at least try to expand Masako’s freedom in her role as empress, given his statement about protecting her and criticizing the Imperial Household Agency.

The couple also have the support of fellow royals. In April 2013, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands personally phoned Princess Masako and insisted she attend to the Dutch inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. Happily, Masako attended with Naruhito to the delight of many Japanese and many royal watchers. Prior to this, the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands hosted the Crown Prince and Princess and grew close to them.

With this monumental change in leadership, as well as fellow royals rooting for them, will Naruhito and Masako usher in a new era in the Japanese Royal Family? I can’t wait to find out. I wish them the best for the future. There has to be a way for the Japanese royal women to thrive and to eventually reign. Otherwise, it’s time to marry a commoner and escape the world of the Imperial Household Agency.

The royal wedding of Carl-Philip: surprises and tears

I’ve never been a fan of Sofia Hellqvist, but I admit my heart softened a little while watching the royal wedding.

The church looked lovely, and Sofia was surprisingly pretty in her finery. Carl-Philip’s facial scruff seemed a bit too “mountain man” for the occasion, but his uniform ranked him high in the dapper department.

Carl-Philip was emotional as he awaited his bride’s entrance, and as Sofia walked into the church, Crown Princess Victoria grabbed a handkerchief to dab her eyes.

I was taken aback by the very obvious tattoo stamped between Sofia’s shoulder blades, but her nervousness was endearing enough to overlook that bit. The tiara was pretty – a modest diadem of what looked like small palm fronds topped with emeralds. The dress was a traditionally beautiful wedding gown, and it suited Sofia perfectly.

As the ceremony went on, Carl-Philip’s little niece, Leonore, began to wiggle and coo. Like all toddlers, she was bored by the grown-up proceedings. Princess Madeleine could be seen showing Leonore a book at one point. To keep her entertained, Leonore was passed down the line – from daddy Chris to mommy Madeleine, to uncle Daniel, and on to grandma Silvia’s lap.

margrethe-checks-leonore

leonore-dan

It was hysterical to see Leonore getting wiggly and impatient. Madeleine looked a little sheepish at one point, fiddling nervously with her earring as her daughter chatted loudly and tried to escape from her father’s lap. That is our family exactly. My husband and I are hesitant to bring our nearly-two-year-old daughter anywhere formal for fear that it will descend into a circus act of baby squeals and acrobatics!

madeleine-sheepish

Of all the royal guests in attendance, I give Queen Maxima the biggest thumbs-up. She cut a gorgeous figure in her lacy maroon gown topped with her diamond and ruby jewels.

maxima

Below, more screenshots from Sweden’s television company SVT:

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