INTERVIEW FRISO AND MABEL
April 19, 2004
Paul Witteman: You are going to get married on Saturday and the Reverend Ter Linden who will lead the service, has asked both of you to write a letter in which will be what you actually feel for each other and why you chose for each other. Can you tell something about it?
Friso: About the specific contents of that letter we of course are not going to tell you, as Mr Ter Linden will most likely use these letters for his speech.
Paul Witteman: But you knew already about why you chose for each other?
Friso: I knew already before why I chose for Mabel and a part I already said during the presentation of Mabel on June 30 last year. That she is a very nice woman. I know nobody who has had so much impact on my life as Mabel. The easiest it is to say or to explain that each day with Mabel delivers another surprise. She always comes with something new, or about her work or private. It is never a boring day.
Paul Witteman: Do you have about the same interests?
Friso: I think that we have different interests probably, but we have the same way of handling things, we both are I think driven people, we both aim for results and we both want to do everything for things we find important. Those things vary. Mabel probably is somewhat more involved in some social problems and I am more involved in economical questions.
Maartje van Weegen: And for what do you chose with Friso?
Mabel: I choose for him because - of a lot of reasons - but … he is extremely sharp, he is sometimes cynical, I like that. He lives in a very integer (from integrity) way his life, I find. He can be very funny. We have lots of fun together. There are some hobbies we share. We like to travel together, we sometimes play tennis together, we both like diving, like to watch theatre, modern dance. And also he keeps on surprising me. I think for example about the way he asked me to marry him, of which you know some details but …
Maartje van Weegen: You told that: Mexico, roses …
Mabel: Yes, that is something. Friso suddenly stood there completely unexpected in front of my door dressed in a white Mexican suit and I had to laugh so much about the way he looked like and I also didn’t notice that a proposal was on its way. And only when out of the bag the champagne and the roses came it became clear to me that this was more than only a very good joke.
Paul Witteman: You said yes immediately I suppose.
Paul Witteman: Since the engagement there has been lots of fuss in the Netherlands - we might talk about it later - but we can understand that you thought then we will get married at a place in the world where you are all not there and the Dutch people hear afterwards that we got married. Didn’t you consider that?
Friso: Sure, yes sure. But I doubt if we could have found a place where no Dutch journalists come, so … I think that if everything is a bit noisy you also can think of alternatives for the wedding, but then you are going to think about the marriage and what it means for us and then it apart from a decision for each other for life, also an important event we celebrate with our family and then you can do that of course somewhere in Las Vegas, but I think that you will miss a lot then. My thoughts have surely been there.
Maartje van Weegen: How was that for you? Did you also really thought about outside the Netherlands?
Mabel: Now, no. We have spoken about it together some time, but at the end what Friso says: we wanted to … at the end you celebrate something so important with your friends and your family and we are also very glad that next Saturday there will be unbelievably many friends and family.
Maartje van Weegen: Well, you grew up as son of the Queen, no normal youth. What does that do to a human being?
Friso: Now, to start, I have tried and that is also because my parents made that possible to have a youth as normal as possible. It indeed hasn’t escaped me that I was the son of the Queen. But I think that I have so much as possible … I have been at normal schools, I have done a normal study, I have tried to build up a normal career. So in some way I think, if you are standing yourself relatively normal and behave as all other people, it doesn’t do so much with you, but however you are always conscious of the fact that you are different and to be honest it sometimes also worries you if you are treated completely honest, positive and negative. For example, when I started working one of the things that were important for me was that I would also work in a way that I also would be judged honestly and you are worried about that. But to be honest I think I am probably one of the few Dutchmen who ever has been very satisfied with a bad efficiency conversation (= beoordelingsgesprek), because then it became clear to me that I really was judged in an honest way. Afterwards the efficiency conversations were happily much better, but that was for me the first sign that I was treated like anybody else.
Maartje van Weegen: But is the story correct that you hate to wave to the public and actually didn’t like Queen’s Day, going into the country. Is that right?
Friso: No, that is not correct at all.
Maartje van Weegen: You looked forward to it?
Friso: Yes, I looked forward to it. It was … Yes.
Maartje van Weegen: And that story about waving with one hand and the middle finger up of the other hand is also nonsense?
Friso: That is like so many, because you refer now to an article in HP/De Tijd of Margarita and Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn. In these was so much nonsense and that was also complete nonsense.
Mabel: But I think besides that that Friso is someone, yes, he doesn’t really reflect it physically sometimes when he likes something and he can - to be honest about it - sometimes even look a bit gruffy. But you have to learn to know him better to know that he does like things even if he might not reflect that.
Paul Witteman: You of course have seen him sometimes when he still was a young prince. On Queen’s Day. Did you already found him a striking and attractive man immediately?
Mabel: (laughing) Now, what I can remember are images of a very small, very sweet boy, with lots of hair.
Maartje van Weegen: at the steps of Palace Soestdijk. That period.
Maartje van Weegen: According to your eldest brother you said as a child: “You can beat Alexander up, but take care that he doesn’t die, because then I have to become a King’.
Friso: Yes. That is a quotation that unfortunately still is quoted a lot. It probably says something about the publicity I enjoy among the people, as for the rest I believe the people don’t know much about me, except for that one quotation. I believe that it is something I might have said once when I was 8 or 9 and that has ended up in a book one day.
Maartje: When your brother became 18, that book.
Friso: Yes, and that kept on hanging a bit. I think that as a child when you grow up within this family you see how much it takes from a person to be able to fulfil that position it isn’t something you necessarily want to do. So seen from that point of view I can surely imagine that I once might have said something like that. I think I have from my early childhood, also again stimulated by my father, who in that way always has had huge influence on me, tried to build up a normal carreer, and in that doesn’t fit a place on the reserve-list next to Alexander [The Prince of Orange]. I think I should always have been willing to fulfil that position if it would have been necessary in a certain situation, but to sit still on that reserve-bench, that was nothing for me.
Paul Witteman: You told about a normal career. You are an engineer in aerospace engineering management and candidate for a doctor’s degree in concurrent economics. Speaking about a normal career! I mean two studies at the same time. Is that unbridled ambition or did it just come?
Friso: That is just the Dutch educational system. It is possible within that. My first choice was aviation. I did it with lots of interest. I liked the study a lot. At one moment it became clear to me that only technique, only know about technique also brings with it its restrictions and that an economical study would link up with it. And then after two years I have decided also to start studying economics. It fitted well together, lots of mathematics.
Paul Witteman: But it is clever, because it also sounds a bit modest, don’t you think?
Mabel: Yes, now yes. I sometimes also find it very clever how he did it all. Also the work he does now. I have lots of respect for that.
Paul Witteman: The work you do now, we will talk about later, but you were first investment banker at the famous bank Goldman Sachs in London and everybody was very enthusiastic, you seemed to be very enthusiastic, your environment was very enthusiastic. Suddenly you stopped, why was that?
Friso: It was after five years. It then became clear to me that after five years I stood for a choice. Not only because I had to make a choice or to marry or just go on with my work, and I spent a great part of my time on working, or going to do something totally different. And then you can do two things: You can keep on hanging around at the bank and look if you can find something else, or you can stop and take a year off to find something new what fitted within my ambitions, that fitted in my private life and that choice I made last year.
Paul Witteman: But it was not because you didn’t like banking anymore.
Friso: No, although I can say about that the same as I once said about consulting, the work I did before. Consulting is a job in which you start as a cio (whatever that means) and you finish as a salesman. A bit of a returned career. I had to make that choice and thus you indeed go from a position in which you are busy very actively with work and visit clients a lot to a role more of a salesman. And it fits you or it doesn’t and I don’t think that I am a real great salesman.
Paul Witteman: Did you use your talents as a banker to enlarge the family capital as sometimes is said?
Friso: No, that is another one of these very significant stories that have gone round. No, someone who knows something about how a bank is working knows that that is totally divided. I worked on the side where we advised companies and there you have nothing to do at all with the management of family capital. Recently a good book of Jeroen Smit about Ahold came out and in there, there is a chapter that very well describes I think what the work of an investment banker looks like or can look like … and from that you can also conclude that you can’t waste family capital that way, so that is completely nonsense.
Maartje van Weegen: Now you are a part-time director of TNO Space. Part-time and director. That is possible. How do you do that?
Friso: That is possible. It surely has to do with the organisation TNO to which you now refer and that is a very special organisation, actually a very interesting organisation which in The Netherlands stands somewhere between the universities and the industrial circles. It exists of quite a lot of various sections who are busy with among others the environment, defence technology, with humanity and within all those groups also an amount of space activities are being performed. Among others the suit of André Kuipers [Dutchman now in space with a Russian capsule) was discovered by TNO … co-developed. And the activities which are expected from me can be carried out part-time. I do that together with a colleague, who very suitable is called Mr Blauw (blue). Mr Oranje (orange) and Mr Blauw (blue) together lead TNO Space. And we have made very good agreements about that and that is going to work very well.
Maartje van Weegen: That is three days a week, so you also have time for other things like …
Friso: Like … Yes, actually what I have always done, that next to my work I also keep myself busy with other things. As you know I am as a vice-president together with my brother Constantijn involved in the Prince Claus Foundation, which keeps itself busy with development and culture. Next to that I keep myself busy with … I am co-founder of a MRI centre in Amsterdam. MRI that are medical scans. I have founded that after INSEAD. Very many people who are on waiting lists can be served at us. And then they can be helped quicker. It is fascinating. It is a fantastic organisation that shows that in a very expenses efficient way can offer private care also in the Netherlands. And next to that I am also busy with someone in the south of the Netherlands, Mr Ron Kok (?), who is a wonderful man, an entrepreneur, inventor of machines and via via I was introduced to him. He was interested in people who could advice him in financing and a little strategy. I got contact with him and I am busy with that from time to time.
Maartje van Weegen: Three years ago you let the Government Information Service announce that you are not a homosexual.
Maartje van Weegen: A marked step you can say.
Friso: You now say it in a different way, but the Government Information Service has, in my name, announced that I am not a homosexual. That has also a very annoying moment in my life, also very annoying that such thing is necessary. Also people were hurt because of it. I find it very annoying that it has happened.
Maartje van Weegen: Why was it necessary?
Friso: Because it of course … in the past there had been a gossip once and that is in a gossip magazine, but that was repeated. Unfortunately that happens with gossip magazines, that they echo each other without trying to verify if that what they write is true. And at one moment it went one step further and was it also copied by the so-called serious media. And one of those magazines made an analysis about if someone who would be homosexual could become a king, which is of course a completely idiotic question. But it was also written in that discussion that I should be a homosexual and then for me the point was reached that I found it necessary to tell the truth. It is of course very annoying, but it was necessary. In such a situation you in fact are being blackmailed by the media, because they take that with such a sensitive point you are not going to say anything. But you can’t always let them blackmail you.
Maartje van Weegen: And that you would hurt people with it, you expected that, but that …
Friso: Expected, but also very carefully taken with me in the considerations. That is also one of the reasons why I only after eight years of gossip and rumours, in which by the way nobody did bother to find out the truth, the gossip kept on playing. In that time I have considered it often to do something against it, but at the moment that the serious media started to take it over, it was for me the right moment to do something against it.
Maartje van Weegen: For you it also must not have been nice … you already knew each other then, it must have played a role.
Mabel: Well, for me it was pretty clear that it wasn’t true and for me it more indicated what the press apparently can do and how they can easily change certain facts and just can write down untruth.
Paul Witteman: Let us talk about your career. People describe you as ambitious. Did you already know at early age what you wanted to do or did you have thoughts about it?
Mabel: No. When I was pretty young I wanted to become a missionary. (laughing) I think I have always have had a kind of world-improver in me. It sounds enormously idealistic, but I tried to perform it quite pragmatic, but I already saw myself going to Africa to help setting up educational systems and so on. That idea was good, but it all has become a bit diluted. But if I look at the kind of work I do now I think, yes sometimes I think I am a kind of modern missionary.
Paul Witteman: In between there was a study. Even two studies at the same time and the choice for it, thus politics (politicologie) and economics. Did it already have something of I want to go into that direction anyway?
Mabel: I started studying economics because I wanted to know more about it. It was an intellectual curiosity. And next to that at a certain moment I started to study politics, because it had my interest. You do very nice subjects when you study politics. You read a lot about philosophy and about international relations and so on. Thus. It is pure through interest driven and finally I am glad that I have something on both studies in my work now.
Paul Witteman: Halfway the 1990s you were involved in the founding of the European Council for Peace and Development and then you got a relationship with the Bosnian Muslim politician Mohammed Sacirbey. A diplomat who is in prison now suspected of embezzlement. How do you judge him now?
Mabel: Not different than before. He is in prison. I am not very known, well known, with the charge against him and I hope he will get a fair lawsuit. But earlier in the 1990s he has done incredibly much for Bosnia, where as you know genocide took place. More than 200.000 people were killed and he then did very good work and now we have to wait to see if he is guilty or not.
Paul Witteman: You haven’t started thinking different about him?
Mabel: No and I think a judge has to decide if he is guilty or not.
Paul Witteman: Did you by the way visit him in prison?
Paul Witteman: And from the Netherlands or from London, where you live, you can mean anything to him? Do you do anything for him?
Mabel: When I heard that he was in prison, I have on request of his family informed contacts we both had in the 1990s about the case and those people have done what they could do and for the rest I don’t keep busy actively with the case.
Paul Witteman: That stays that way.
Maartje van Weegen: You now work for the Open Society Institute. The big boss there is George Soros. The institute does beneficial work you can say especially in Eastern Europe. What work do you do?
Mabel: Now maybe I first should explain who George Soros is and what the foundation network of George Soros does and then I can explain what I do myself. George Soros … He is Hungarian of origin. In the 1950s when the communism came to Hungary he fled the country to the West. He has earned incredibly much money in America. And now he gives all this money to good causes. He tries to stimulate democracy, human rights and so on, independent press and to support that all in countries where it doesn’t go so well. In the Netherlands we find things like that we have free elections, that human rights are being respected, that we can say what we want, we find it very normal, but there are very many countries in the world where it isn’t of course. And thus the network of foundations he has founded, with offices in more than 40 countries at the moment, tries to contribute to it. We thus work in countries that were or communistic or where has been a dictatorship, or even in the case of South-Africa where there was apartheid.
Maartje van Weegen: And you lead one of those offices.
Mabel: No, we work in principle in Western Europe, we don’t do projects. But in Western Europe, what I do there. I am a kind of contact person. I try to arrange that we co-operate well with on one side the various institutions in Brussels, the bureaucracy in Brussels, and on the other side the member states of the European Union. Thus for example we support non-governmental bodies, women’s organisations for example in the countries that are about to become a member of the European Union. And thus we want to co-operate with women’s organisations in Western Europe, thus lately I helped preparing a visit of such organisations to Brussels. But also for example in Macedonia we co-operate with the Dutch government in the field of training police there and we help to reform the education. Sometimes there also are problems in the countries we work, like in many countries in Eastern Europe gipsy-children are put in special schools, they are not allowed to go to normal schools. They are hidden with mentally disabled children. Because we have offices in so many countries we see that kind of things and if we find out we try to inform people in Europe who should know about it.
Maartje van Weegen: And George Soros, wealthy man, as you describe him, tries lately in words and on paper to profile himself as a vivid opponent of the American president George Bush. Do you agree with him in that sense?
Mabel: He does that in his personal capacity, thus as a private person and we with the whole foundation network have nothing to do with his political activities in America.
Maartje van Weegen: Isn’t it a bit of a artificial separation?
Mabel: No, it is I believe even legally obliged because he otherwise can’t keep on carrying out his foundation activities.
Maartje van Weegen: Your work is actually also making political choices. Which country you support, and which not.
Mabel: Eventually I don’t make the choices which countries will be supported and sometimes it are political choices to do something for human rights activists or to do something for democracy and against people who try to steal elections, for example. But that thus are more a kind of choices between in favour or against democracy or in favour or against human rights than that these are party-political choices.
Paul Witteman: It looks as if you are interested in powerful men, because we already talked about Sacirbey and also about Soros. Weren’t you afraid when you got a relationship with Prince Friso that they should think: “Now she also has managed to hook a prince.”
Mabel: No. I fell in love with Friso and the fact that he is a prince is of minor importance. No, I am in love with Friso.
Paul Witteman: And when it became a real relationship, did you feel the problems coming already, paying attention to your past?
Mabel: No. I have asked myself a few times and Friso and I also talked about it how far my work would be influenced and how much I would be restricted in my freedom eventually by being with Friso.
Friso: I think you’d better say that it was a big question for you indeed, if we überhaupt - you will surely come to the question of the consent - if we should ask consent, because Mabel had lots of worries about her work. You yourself come already with a few points - if her work wouldn’t be too much restricted by the ministerial responsibility. Finally we decided that it shouldn’t be a restriction, because in principle the work she is doing is fighting, the fight for democracy and human rights. In principle it should never have to be conflicted with the policy of the Dutch government. So that is …
Maartje van Weegen: In the end it wasn’t the work but the personal life that would cause all troubles. At which moment the alarm-bells started ringing for you?
Friso: The alarm-bells started ringing. To be honest, I already knew in 2000 that Mabel had had contacts with Mr Bruinsma in the past. Then we of course talked a lot about it, also tried to reckon with the indication for the asking for consent and to say alarm-bells started ringing, no. Because we have talked about it very openly and very much.
Maartje van Weegen: What did you think about it then?
Friso: Yes, you are surprised at first and I also was frightened shortly. But I believe it was also immediately a time in which each week a criminal was shot in Amsterdam, so for me Mr Bruinsma was someone who was shot in front of the Hilton. Then you also ask yourself how it is possible. But then you say, yes it was twenty, fifteen years ago. It was a young girl, naïve, a little. It wasn’t a very special relationship. She had had the contacts and she has been very open about it. Because she had been so open about it to me, I actually never had thought that that would become a problem.
Paul Witteman: What it became.
Friso: That, yes.
Paul Witteman: Prince Friso wrote in his letter to the Prime Minister in October last year that there was no talk of business contacts or a love-affair. So that gives questions. What was it then for relationship?
Mabel: Yes, it were just friendship contacts that lasted for a few months and thereafter I have seen Mr Bruinsma a few more times mainly at sailing events. And that is it!
Paul Witteman: At a certain moment the body-guard of Mr Bruinsma came on television, Mr Da Silva. He suggested much more. He suggested intimate contacts.
Mabel: Mr Da Silva, who has been convicted for murder, suggested indeed a lot. He also suggested that I should know him and as far as I can remember I can say in honour and conscience (naar eer en geweten) that I according to myself never have known him. Ans I also don’t remember anything of the stories he tells and thus the suggestion that I should have had an intimate relationship or a love-affair with Mr Bruinsma are absolutely not true!
Maartje van Weegen: Prince Friso writes in his letter to the Prime Minister: “We should have said immediately that it has been more than a superficial relationship.”
Friso: Yes, there has been said a lot about that choice of words and I myself also read a letter of the Prime Minister to the Chamber and in that it reads again a normal relationship, so. I believe Mabel has clearly indicated what the relationship has been. And what it is all about - and I have played a big role in it - as I just said we have spoken a lot about these contacts before the conversations with the Prime Minister in June . I also wrote that in my letter. We have thought long about what Mabel exactly should tell and I then advised her that for her it was only necessary to say those things that the Prime Minister in his position and in his ministerial responsibility could ever bring in troubles in the future.
Paul Witteman: In the letter you talked for example about the nights in the letter to Prime Minister Balkenende later on. Is that not something people could think about later, now that is an intimate relationship, isn’t it?
Friso: There you come back at the kind of relationship and that is not what it is about I think. I think there has been said enough about it. Where it is about is that we only told those facts of which we thought that they were important and that were the facts that probably were related to criminal or blackmailing facts. We haven’t said more because we thought or we found at that moment that the rest were private things. Where someone stays, according to me is a private thing. Thus that wasn’t said indeed. But of course there have been extensive conversations with the Prime Minister also about this subject.
Paul Witteman: You just told what you felt when you heard it from your future wife. Didn’t you immediately think, what will my mother think about it?
Friso: No, that comes later on one time. I immediately did know that when Mabel told me in 2000 that I wouldn’t tell it to my mother immediately, because she of course should have needed to tell it to the Prime Minister right away, as you know and thus I didn’t do it. But, look, we can talk about this long. I think that it has been very tedious. We have been unwise not to tell all facts. Throught that there has been lots of commotion, as you already indicated. For us it has been very tedious that it went this way. Of course we would have liked to have gotten consent, but at a certain moment it became clear - I don’t know if you mean that with then the alarm-bells started ringing - that it was in the interest of all parties not to go on with that request for consent and then from there we have accepted the consequences. And that is of course not nice and surely not what happened afterwards. But that actually stands apart from that decision, but what happened afterwards in the media I can honestly say. I find it frankly shameful.
Paul Witteman: What did you find shameful?
Friso: That there was totally no respect anymore for factual inquiries. Everyone copied everyone, all media. Take something so very simple as the job of the father of Mabel. Then you can say that is a trivial fact, but the media couldn’t get right even something like that and everybody copied it. There have been said the most idiot things about Mabel, which I think in such a way shouldn’t be said about anyone.
Maartje van Weegen: What did sting you most?
Mabel: It of course has just hurt a lot, because you are in a position in which you can’t defend yourself. People suddenly all have the right to shout what they want. As Friso said: even the most very banal facts weren’t inquired anymore and everybody copied each other. And yes, suddenly everyone was an expert about Mabel. Everybody had an opinion about me. Everybody seemed to know what did and didn’t happen. And that has been incredibly hurtful. It was a kind of hurricane that got over me and in which it sometimes has been very difficult to keep on standing.
Paul Witteman: That was then especially after this broadcast of Peter R. de Vries in which Mr Da Silva appeared.
Mabel: According to me it has been very hard for months. It really has been weeks long …
Paul Witteman: Thus it wasn’t per se then that the world collapsed.
Mabel: No, because that broadcast, that was such incredible nonsense what was all told in it. I had something like, nobody is going to believe this. You asked what I found most difficult. For myself it was very difficult. I sometimes still feel sad when I look back at it. I knew that when I chose for Friso that my life would be laid under a magnifying-glass and that a lot would happen with it, publicly. What I hadn’t expected and what finally hurt me much more is that my family and friends were so much involved in it. I mean, they are no public persons and they have the right of protection. Imagine, my mother is in the supermarket in Hilversum, doing shopping, passes the magazines and the headlines with the most huge nonsense about what her daughter should or shouldn’t have done, shout to her and that is really very hurtful. Because I of course wanted to protect my family as much as possible.
Paul Witteman: Didn’t you think then in that phase ‘these parliamentary consent’, let us just drop it now.
Friso: But that was already over then and we now talk about the moment after the broadcast, and the decision not to go on with that had already been taken.
Paul Witteman: Had already been taken, only we didn’t know about that yet.
Mabel: At a certain moment we have tried to say: Ok, that’s it! We haven’t been reasonable that we haven’t immediately told all details, because we thought that we could keep some details private, but because of that there has been created a wrong view.
Maartje van Weegen: You have kept that line in both the conversations with the Queen as with the Minister President. They knew the same.
Friso and Mabel: Yes.
Paul Witteman: The Prime Minister at a certain moment, at least that was the personal impression he gave, was touched because he found he hadn’t heard the full truth. And he also writes that in his letter to the Chamber that he was informed incomplete and unjust. I was at the press conference at that time in which he explained the letter and there he raged about it quite a lot if I may say so in unparliamentary words. “Against untruth is no cure.” How did you experience that?
Friso: I’d want to say two things about it. In the first place the problem with the sentence is that it was immediately interpreted as there should have been lied. I think there is no talk about that.
Paul Witteman: But it sounded like it.
Friso: Yes, as we also said in the letter. We have told insufficient facts and because of that there has been created an unjust view.
Maartje van Weegen: You find that another word than lying.
Friso: Well, it has been said that when you consciously create an incomplete view then that is in fact the same as lying. Now, I can be very honest. We have thought about it and we have never had the intention to create a wrong view. But we were convinced at that moment that we had said enough. So it didn’t happen deliberately.
Mabel: It has been naïve, looking back at it.
Friso: It has been naïve. And we have realized that we have played a huge role in the creation of the commotion that was not only for us not nice, but also not for the Prime Minister, also not for Mabel’s family, and also not for my family.
Maartje van Weegen: But what did you think of the wording of the Prime Minister? “Against untruth is no cure”. When you heard him saying that, what did you think?
Friso: It is not to us to lie qualifications upon the wording of the Prime Minister, but yes, it was his interpretation maybe at that moment.
Maartje van Weegen: You now say it very laconic.
Friso: Yes, you know, it has been six, seven months ago, already. For us it has been stricken out since October 9. The moment we wrote the letter and from that moment we are busy preparing for our wedding and busy with our future. Which of course will be a bit different, but we don’t look less positive against the future.
Paul Witteman: But you of course don’t want to be go into history as a liar. I mean, it was a painful moment I assume.
Friso: I then hope that I have rectified that now.
Maartje van Weegen: Hadn’t there been another more royal way to get out of troubles?
Friso: I don’t know. Many parties have been involved in this case. I think we have done what we could do. I think that writing that letter was the only thing we could do. The rest happened without our knowledge to be honest.
Mabel: We have been the direct object for a long time.
Maartje van Weegen: You now disappear, through your wedding with Mabel Wisse Smit, from the line of succession to the throne. What does that mean to you?
Friso: That I am no longer in line of succession to the throne.
Maartje van Weegen: Relieved?
Friso: No, not relieved.
Maartje van Weegen (after some laughter): It is not really something to laugh about I think.
Friso: No, otherwise we wouldn’t have asked for consent I think. You grow up with the idea that if everything goes as planned, than you stay in line of succession to the throne. That is also the reason that, despite of the various things we have taken into consideration, that we chose for it after all last year to ask consent. And then you have to put up with it first and then accept that you are no longer in it anymore. And yes, what can I say. At a certain moment you also have to accept the facts the way they are and you can’t keep on complaining endlessly about things you can’t change. That is why we are satisfied with where we are now and we can live with it and I think that that is most important for both of us and maybe even more important that it is also for our families a situation where they can … that they can accept. For my mother it has of course also not been very easy, but she has been an enormous support for us and she helped us very much to come through this period.
Paul Witteman: Did you never have the feeling that through all this commotion the prestige of the royal house had been damaged?
Friso: Maybe I can better say something about it. I think that with everything that is written in the media about the royal house sometimes more, sometimes less, the view can arise that there has been caused more or less damage to the royal house. I think that the royal house is an institute that is so well rooted in the Dutch society that this is an incident with absolutely no damage … doesn’t mean damage to the monarchy and the royal house.
Paul Witteman: So you also didn’t feel aggrieved at it? You just said: “We have been the direct object for a long time.”
Mabel: Yes, with that I referred to the media hype that has passed us.
Paul Witteman: Yes, but you said yourself somewhat emotional that all the people around me who became involved in it and that is so incredibly sad.
Mabel: Yes, it has been very annoying that that happened that way.
Maartje van Weegen: Is this what happened now a shadow over Saturday?
Friso: No, I think we are going to make a huge party of it.
Friso: It is different, but at the end the wedding had been a party of us with our family anyway, if we had gotten consent or not. The one is more a constitutional, the other more a personal event.
Mabel: I earlier think that if there is one shadow over coming Saturday, it is that three fathers are missing. I have lost my father at a very early age, I was nine, and that has had an enormous impact on me. It also has defined the way I look at life and has influenced very much what I do with my life. Actually I see life very much as a gift and I know that is very … it is finite. I thus also want to do very much with my life and also do something back as a kind of gratitude that I live. It sounds a bit idealistic, but that is how I feel it. My father thus has died, then my mother pretty quickly remarried to a wonderful new father.
Maartje van Weegen: You also received his name, Wisse Smit.
Mabel: Yes, at a certain moment we also wanted to make clear that we again were one as a family. I also had gotten a new sister. Now also Friso’s father is no longer there. I think that these three fathers will really be missed coming Saturday.
Maartje van Weegen: You marry in church. The Reverend Carel ter Linden leads the service. Is it tradition or is it more than that? What does it mean, what is the value of a religious wedding for you?
Friso: It is certainly more than that I think. The faith does play in both our lives in different ways an important role. We have as Mabel already indicated gone through various different moments in the past years and at these moments we have, except for that we have had a lot on ourselves, also had lots of support from the faith. And I also think that if you do something like that, such an important part of your life, as a wedding, it also needs to take place in church. It is more than a contract you sign together in the town-hall.
Maartje van Weegen: Also for you it is like that.
Mabel: Yes, absolutely.
Paul Witteman: Then you are married. Then a completely new period starts. However your name stays Prince of Orange-Nassau and you are allowed to call yourself Princess. Are you going to do that?
Mabel: My friends, family and all my professional … the people I work with know me all as Mabel and I will just stay Mabel.
Paul Witteman: You finish your letter with the sentence: “Together we hope to be keep on being able to support my mother and family. How do you mean that? Also in public?
Friso: I think that in one aspect not much will change. Our families are for both of us very important. Just like we pointed out last year we will fulfil a supporting position where possible. We are in principle still available if the family feels the need for it. Maybe that need might have been changed because of what happened. But we will in the position with regard to … and our readiness to be available certainly not have a different position.
Paul Witteman: All these Queen’s Days are they now over what you concerned or … will that come back for you?
Friso: This year I think we will .. I hope to be on honeymoon and next year I think we have to see again.
Paul Witteman: But do you have the feeling … a great ending such a wedding and then disappear or … do you say we belong there and thus …
Friso: The future will tell in how far we are going to filling it in, but for me in the first instance we are going to live in London and we look very much forward to it. We are going further with our lives and we are going to do the things we find nice, important and good. And we will see later on what we are going to do in the Netherlands.
Paul Witteman: Are you going to miss us journalists a lot?
Friso: I am afraid we can’t get rid of them anymore.
Maartje van Weegen: Thank you very much for this conversation and I wish you a nice day on Saturday.
Friso and Mabel: Thank you.
This interview was broadcasted by the NOS at Nederland 2 on Monday April 19, 2004.