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.
Earned a bilingual baccalaureate
Has degree in Economics
Worked as an investment banker
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
+ 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.