Delft, 24 April 2004
- 10.00: Departure by car from Noordeinde Palace.
- 10.30-11.00: civil marriage. The civil ceremony was conducted by the Mayor of Delft, Hein van Oorschot, in the Town Hall. It was attended by close family and friends of the bride and groom and dignitaries (some 50 guests).
- Departure by car from the Town Hall for the Oude Kerk.
- 11.30-13.00: church wedding: The church ceremony took place in the Oude Kerk. The Reverend Carel A. ter Linden, Minister Emeritus of the Kloosterkerk, The Hague, officiated. Guests included close family and friends of the bride and groom, members of foreign royal families and other dignitaries (some 1400 guests).
- Departure by car for Noordeinde Palace.
- 13.30: Arrival at Noordeinde Palace for lunch. About 300 guests were invited for the lunch. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands left before the lunch started.
- 14:00: Bride and groom appeared at the balcony of Noordeinde Palace. They were cheered by a few hundred people, who saw finally the kiss.
The civil wedding
Prince Friso and Mabel Smit were driven in the 1958 model Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Limousine Landaulette. They left from Noordeinde Palace for the Town Hall in Delft and proceeded from there to the Oude Kerk before returning to Noordeinde Palace. The car was ordered by Queen Juliana from Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd. of London in 1957. It was first used on 20 March 1958 during the state visit to the Netherlands of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip. Many other heads of state were driven in the Rolls-Royce between 1958 and 1978. Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus also used the car during that period on their tours of the Netherlands. The only left hand drive Rolls-Royce Landaulette in the world, it was brought back into service on 2 February 2002 for the wedding of the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima.
Speech of the Mayor of Delft, Mr Hein M.C.M. van Oorschot
Bride and groom,
Mother of the bride,
Family members of the bride and groom,
Friends of bride and groom,
(in English) As mayor of Delft, I welcome you all to our city to celebrate the wedding of Miss Mabel Wisse Smit and His Royal Highness Prince Johan Friso. In my special capacity as registrar, I welcome you to the civil part of that celebration here in Delft City Hall. I hope the foreign guests will understand that I continue in Dutch.
(in Dutch) Ladies and Gentlemen,
If we would have lived between 1533 and 1584 today we would have celebrated the birthday of William of Orange. And how closer we would have come to 1584, how bigger the chance had been, that we would have done that in Delft. You of course wonder now if that is the reason that today we solemnize the wedding of these two young people. The answer to this question is ‘no’.
Delft was chosen by the bridal couple, because they both have something with this beautiful city.
Therefore it is an even bigger joy for the society of Delft, that you with us are going to celebrate such an important event in your life. It is nice for Delft to be able to be linked with this moment of big happiness, also because sometimes we are unbreakably linked with sadness in the Royal Family.
For both of you your wedding is the marking of an emotional period. In the first place I then of course aim at the emotion of your love for each other. That emotion today gets a confirmation in front of the guests here, multiple of them in the church, people on the street, who look out for you and an even bigger amount, that watches your wedding via the television.
It is also the marking of the closing of an emotional period. Therewith I aim at the feelings of grief and impotence, you have had in the period up to this beautiful day. Those feelings made painfully clear how much public people can become the object of social attention and sometimes of a media-hunt. And that is even more difficult for who can’t deny then. I wish you a future with lots of privacy.
I already said, for both of you Delft is a special place. For the bride that started already early in her life. She remembers as a young girl Delft and the elevator in the building of electro-technics where her father got his diploma. Do you see her skip on our beautiful canals? Probably with pigtails and hopefully with a pearl earring. Because that is what special girls tend to carry in Delft. For you, groom, it are especially your college days, that connects you with Delft. College days you completely could experience with everything connected with it and in which you were six long years Delftenaar (inhabitant of Delft) between the Delftenaren, student between the students. You say about it, that you really felt at home here. That feeling is still there and nothing else is possible, as for engineers of the Technische Universiteit Delft (Technical University Delft) the adagium ‘once a Delftenaar, for ever a Delftenaar’ applies. From your mother I understood once, that your big talent for exact sciences is extraordinary in your family. Here in Delft we have thus been lucky with you.
You intend to settle down in London together and both work from there. There you start a housekeeping together and the bride finishes her what she calls ‘life from a trunk’. You both look very much out to it and if you speak about it I hear, that you will find happiness in it. By the way in the first place you have to do that together and that means, that you also have to put in both of you separate.
For lots of what is expected in both your positions from you, London is a very good starting point. Who like the groom works in the aviation and space industry at the TNO in Delft, has minimum the world as working area. As far as I know this is pretty well reachable from London although that also often goes via Schiphol, I have been told.
For the bride her work as director European Union for the OSI (the Open Society Institute) in its kind also international. Your work among others is aimed at strengthening of the freedom of journalism in the world and in fighting AIDS. Your work is of huge importance for the development of welfare, democracy and human rights. I hope you will continue it with the same energy.
But this all doesn’t alter the fact that you and especially the groom also will be in Delft from time to time. In your lost hour you can always ring at this house. Then a cup of thee with an Oude Jan-Koekje (old John cookie) or something else will be ready for you.
Bride and groom,
When I met you, you said, that you loved to work on this wedding together and growing on to this day. I have seen, although from a distance, that you have done that with huge enthusiasm and besides, although from a distance, I have learnt to know you as nice, interesting and intelligent people. Besides I also saw how you deal with each other, support each other and enjoy each other. For me it is then also an honour to be able to solemnize your civil wedding. I therefore now want to pass to that and I request bride and groom to stand up and give each other the right hand and to answer the question I am now asking you with a clear ‘yes’.
Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David, Prince of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg, do you declare to take as your wife, Mabel Martine Wisse Smit, and do you pledge to fulfil all the duties legally connected with the state of matrimony?
What is your answer?
Mabel Martine Wisse Smit do you declare to take as your husband, Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David, Prince of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg, and do you pledge to fulfil all the duties legally connected with the state of matrimony?
What is your answer?
Then as registrar of the registrar’s office of the Municipality of Delft I declare that you are joined together in matrimony as husband and wife.
Bride and groom, Prince Johan Friso and Princess Mabel,
I am in the position to congratulate you with your wedding first. In these congratulations I of course involve both mothers, brothers, sisters and sisters-in-law and other family members and actually all of you, honoured guests. Today the sun shines. Today music is played. Today you will be placed in the middle of your circle of family and friends and being cherished. I wish you that for the rest of your life. I wish you a wonderful life together with lots of happiness and lots of love.
And then we go on to the signing of the marriage certificates. Finally I may present you a wedding present in name of Delft. We have decided, that it should be a very Delfts present. It is a so-called candy-set (confiture-set) made by the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (Royal Porcelain Bottle) after a design from the 17th century. It has been taken into production again as a jubilee piece at the 350th anniversary of this royal company in 2003. Now I am not sure if you like jam very much, but nine sorts of jam (and so many dishes there are) on the table looks a bit too much. To your reassurance, such a set was used especially to serve a rice-table in and is also very suitable for that.
We have the original plastic bags if you want to bring the set with you immediately, but if you have already taken care of your dinner tonight, we also can deliver the present at your house. Otherwise it would also look a bit careless under your chair in church.
Of course the set is provided with a fitting decoration also to record this important day in the present.
In name of the society of Delft I want to congratulate you very much once more with your wedding. I wish you a beautiful service in what many find the most beautiful church of Delft.
I wish you a lovely day and finally, a long and happy life together and among all, who are dear to you.
Delft University Cadets formed a guard of honour at the main entrance of the Oude Kerk.
The service was prepared by the bride and bridegroom and Reverend Ter Linden.
The flowers decorating the church were a gift from the Association of Dutch Flower Auctions. They were arranged by Mr Piet Vellekoop of Bloemenbureau Holland.
The newly re-upholstered prie-dieu was used for the weddings of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik in 1901, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien in 2001, and the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima in 2002.
At the request of His Royal Highness Prince Friso and Miss Mabel Wisse Smit, guests in the Oude Kerk will be invited to make a donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This organisation was established in 2002 to help countries in need.
Copyright: Bernard Rübsamen/Royal Portraits (with permission)
Order of service
The monogram on the cover of the Order of Service was designed by Prince Friso and Mr Hans Kruit.
Officiating Clergyman: C.A. ter Linden, Minister Emeritus of the Kloosterkerk, The Hague
Elder on duty: A.C. Valkenburg
Organist: Bas de Vroome, Organist of the Oude Kerk
Choir: Laurenscantorij Rotterdam
Orchestra: Laurens Bachorkest
Soprano: Nienke Oostenrijk
Soli in the William Walton motet and the hymn by Huub Oosterhuis and Antoine Oomen:
Leonore Engelbrecht, soprano
Arco Mandemaker, tenor
Conductor: Barend Schuurman
Lessons read by:
Rev. George Regas, Minister Emeritus of the Episcopal Church, Pasadena, Ca. USA, friend of the bridegroom
Willemijn Verloop, witness for the bride
Fantasia in G Major BWV 572
Schafe können sicher weiden BWV 208
Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter BWV 650
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier BWV 706
From Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
At the entrance of the close family of the bride and groom
Processional (fragment) of William Mathias (b. 1934)
Entrance of the bride and groom
Opening chorus of Cantata no. 137 “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation) BWV 137, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul praise him for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to his temple draw near;
Praise him in glad adoration.
Welcome, Friso and Mabel, to this beautiful church, only four miles from the village of Pijnacker where you, Mabel, were born, and attended the primary school with the prophetic name, the Johan Willem Friso School, and less than a hundred yards from the house where you, Friso, lived when you were a student. That is why you chose Delft, and this church, for your wedding. It is not far from Delft’s other church, where Friso’s grandmother was laid to rest less than a month ago, a church that has acquired a new significance for us all over the last year and a half, as a place of mourning.
And so this town welcomes you again, together with your families and friends. But this time on a happy occasion, your wedding.
Some twenty years ago, Friso, we met every week with ten of your schoolfriends over a period of some three or four years to talk about the bible. So it gave me great joy when, six months ago, we picked up where we left off, but now with Mabel at your side, to prepare for this wedding service, the start of your lives together. A service that means so much to both of you because, as you said, it is about the things that really matter.
I should like to extend a special welcome to your friends who have come here from all over the world. You have each received a translation of the service and the hymns. I invite you to join in the singing of the first and the final hymn. The first hymn will be sung in Dutch, but I would like to invite you to sing in English, the language in which it was originally written.
Our help is in the name of the Lord
Who made heaven and earth
Who keeps faith for ever and ever
And does not forsake the work of his hands. Amen
Hymn 460: 1, 3 and 5: Loof de Koning, heel mijn wezen. Praise my soul, the King of heaven, music by John Goss (1800-1880), words by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). Translation of W. Barnard (1920)
Praise my soul, the King of heaven
To his feet thy tribute bring
Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven
Evermore his praises sing
Praise the everlasting King
Father-like, he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes;
Widely yet his mercy flows.
Angels in the height, adore him
Ye behold him face to face;
Saints triumphant, bow before him,
Gather’d in from every race;
Praise with us the God of grace
Let us pray.
We come before You
in awe and gratitude
for all we receive:
the love of another
who wants to share his, her, life with us,
who wants to remain with us for all time.
any union of two people,
is like an unknown country.
Who can imagine
Loving each other a whole life long?
Who can know what that means?
Deep inside we know:
this does not come from us.
Marriage is as a house
to which You hold the key.
It is one of Your secrets.
It was there long before us,
for we too were born there.
Teach us Your secret,
that we may dwell in this house
as good tenants;
that our love may ripen and bear fruit.
We thank You for the house from which we came;
for the love and care we found there.
We remember in your presence those who are no longer with us
But with whom we are joined in spirit today:
Friso’s father, Friso’s grandmother;
Mabel’s father, and the man who became a loving father
to Mabel and her sisters.
And our thoughts are also with Mabel’s grandmother,
for whom a day like this would be too taxing,
but who is with us in her thoughts and her love.
We thank You for all the friends we have made in our lives,
who helped us grow
and who are here with us today.
Lord, be with us at this time, in word and spirit
Be in our lives the first
and the last.
Exodus 3: 1-14; By George Regas
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I WILL BE THERE AS I WILL BE THERE: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I WILL BE THERE hath sent me unto you.1 Corinthians 1-13; By Willemijn Verloop
Though I speak with the tongues
of men and of angels,
and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass,
or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries,
and all knowledge;
and though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains,
and have not charity,
I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
and have not charity,
it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long,
and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself,
is not puffed up,
doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil;
rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth in the truth;
beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.
Charity never faileth:
but whether there be prophecies,
they shall fail;
whether there be tongues,
they shall cease;
whether there be knowledge,
it shall vanish away.
For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child,
I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child,
I thought as a child:
but when I became an adult,
I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass,
but then face to face:
now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity,
but the greatest of these is charity.
Chorale, an adaptation of hymn 92 from the Hymnal of the Reformed Churches, Al kon ik alle talen spreken of Jan Wit (1914-1980), Music by Willem Retze Talsma (1927), arrangement by Bas de Vroomen (b. 1962)
Al kon ik alle talen spreken
Van hemel en aarde.
Wanneer de liefde zou ontbreken.
Wat had het voor waarde?
Mijn woord was niets dan loos gerucht.
Luid schallende metalen.
Schel klinkende cymbalen.
Beroering in de lucht.
Selection from the Song of Solomon (8:6 and 7) in an arrangement by William Walton (1902-1983)
Set me as a seal upon thine heart,
As a seal upon thine arm:
For love is strong as death
Many waters cannot quench love
Neither can floods drown it.
Introduction to the solemnisation of the marriage
The time has now come to solemnise your marriage. But first let us hear what our faith teaches us about it.
It is one of life’s great mysteries that God created people to love each other, to transform our solitary existence, to experience the joys of union of body and soul, to have a helpmate as our partner and to provide for the continuation of the generations.
And so we accept marriage with reverence and gratitude as a gift from God. He asks us to love each other, to live in wisdom with each other, to honour each other, to serve each other, to support each other, to give each other space, to tolerate each other. He asks us to trust each other, not to become embittered, and always to forgive each other.
Accept then, with great reverence, and in an awareness of your responsibilities, the gift and the challenge of marriage as a blessing, so that your life together will also be a blessing, for yourselves, and for those who will be entrusted to you in your life together, or whom God places in your path.
I would now ask the bride and groom to stand, and the witnesses to take their places at either side of them.
Questions to the witnesses
Do you share the trust that Friso and Mabel have already expressed in each other this morning, and are about to reaffirm in the sight of God, and will you continue to follow and support them in their life together, in friendship and loyalty?
What is your answer?
May you be granted the strength to keep this promise.
While the witnesses return to their places, I would ask the bride and groom to step forward.
Please join your right hands and answer the questions I shall now ask:
Friso, do you receive and accept Mabel Martine Wisse Smit into your life as your wife, and do you promise to love her and be faithful to her, to honour and support her, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, in all life’s seasons, in the spirit of the word of God, until death do you part. What is your answer?
And you, Mabel, do you receive and accept Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg, into your life as your husband, and do you promise to love him and be faithful to him, to honour and support him, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, in all life’s seasons, in the spirit of the word of God, until death do you part. What is your answer?
Your marriage is now affirmed in the sight of God and his congregation. Please kneel to receive the blessing on your marriage.
Blessing of the marriage
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
A Psalm, a marriage song
Hymn written and composed for Friso and Mabel. Words by Huub Oosterhuis (b. 1933), music by Antoine Oomen (b. 1945)
On this patch of earth, this ground we’ve been given
hoping for blessing, the blessing of love
two people here, two from the millions.
Born and bred for love, for blessing
stepping into life, confirmed by love
growing into the warmth of others.
You set out, searching for freedom
found some things, lost others
you sought and were found.
Blessed this day of all days
and blessed the nights that will come
time full of life, glimpses of love.
In this distorted world
hoping for blessing, longing for love
numberless as the stars of heaven we are.
Blessed, each one for the other
blessed your heart and your mind
awaiting a world in peace
in the Name of the god
who begs you to protect
poorest of the poor,
for justice and mercy
who has placed his word
in the palms of people,
blessed all those
who try to accomplish
to fulfil, to complete.
Blessed two from the millions
joined here before us
united with all of us;
and new life is dawning.
Here on this earth, so richly glorious,
hoping for blessing, the blessing of love
we come together; let come what will
Exchange of rings
Friso, do you give this ring to Mabel as a sign of your love and fidelity?
Mabel, do you give this ring to Friso as a sign of your love and fidelity?
Presentation of the Bible
Mabel and Friso,
It is an honour to welcome you here in the Oude Kerk in Delft. On this special day, your wedding day, you traditionally receive a special present, a wedding bible. However, we will not be giving you just one bible, but two. During the preparations for this service, we looked at various editions of the bible. The one that appealed to you most was illustrated by Marc Chagall. It is remarkable that a Jewish artist should have been so inspired by stories not just from the Old Testament, but also from the New. But in addition to this illustrated Bible we would like to give you a copy of the new edition of the Delft Bible, as a special memento of this day. Shortly after the printing press was introduced into this country, the first book to be printed in the Dutch language using moveable type was printed in Delft in 1477. This edition of the Old Testament has come to be known as the Delft Bible, and a commemorative edition appeared in 1977.
Why is this bible such a special gift?
God who, as we have heard, manifested himself to Moses, still seeks to manifest Himself today. To you, to me, to everyone gathered here. That is why he gave us His Word, the bible. The apostle, John, one of the four evangelists, referred to Jesus as the Word of God. That is a very telling image. In that belief, reading the bible is a wonderful way of getting to know God and His Son.
Chagall’s illustrations are beautiful. And the Delft Bible has its own wonderful history. But those are mere externals. The real gift is the text between the covers.
One bible for the bridegroom, one for the bride. And I shall give you just one word of advice. Read the bible, and live its lessons. On behalf of the Reformed Church of Delft and the parish of central Delft and Vrijenban, I should like to present you with these bibles. Congratulations to you and your families. Please accept my very best wishes for the future!
Soprano and organ
Magna res est amor, words by Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), music by Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981)
Magna res est amor,
Magnum omnino bonum:
Quod solum leve facit omne onerosum
Et fert aequaliter omne inaequale.
Nihil dulcius est amore,
nihil fortius, nihil altius,
nihil latius, nihil jucundius,
nihil plenius nec melius
In coelo et in terra.
Quia amor ex Deo natus est,
Nec potest, nisi in Deo,
Super omnia creata quiescere.
Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing,
It makes every difficulty easy,
And bears all wrongs with equanimity.
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger,
Nothing is higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant,
Nothing is fuller and nothing is better in heaven or on earth.
For love is born of God and cannot
Rest except in God, Who is above all created things.
Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing,
It makes every difficulty easy
And bears all wrongs with equanimity.
Let us pray
You Who said: I shall be with you,
take into your care
those who today have entrusted themselves to You and to each other.
Make them willing to give themselves to each other,
to listen to each other
to accept each other as they are
and to grow together towards a richer, fuller humanity,
a humanity to which You hold the secret.
We pray You
that they may develop the talents they have been given.
That their work may serve humankind,
Wherever they each shall work.
That they may serve human knowledge and skills
and in doing so serve humankind;
That they may help people and peoples in need
And support them
in their progress towards a responsible society.
Help them to find a balance in their lives
between the time available to them for their work,
for those close to them
and for each other.
Be close to them in the special opportunities
their birth and marriage gave to them.
May people grant them the space they, like us, need
And may they preserve their inner freedom and open-mindedness.
May they not be too sorely tried.
May no one on this earth come between them.
Brighten their future home and fill it with warmth.
Make them a blessing
to each other and to all those You put on their path.
Hear us, our thoughts, and our prayers
in the silence of this hour.
Choir: The Lord’s Prayer, setting by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) – in German
Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom,
and the power and the glory for ever.
Announcement of the collection to be held at the door.
À toi la gloire from Judas Maccabeus, by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) – in French. All rise
À toi la gloire,
À toi la victoire
Pour l’ éternité!
Brillant de lumière,
L’ange est descendu,
Il roule la pierre
Du tombeau vaincu.
À toi la gloire
À toi la victoire
Pour l’ éternité!
C’est lui, c’est Jésus,
Ton sauveur, ton maître,
Oh, ne doute plus.
Sois dans l’allégresse
Peuple du seigneur,
et redis sans cesse
Que Christ est vainqueur!
À toi la gloire
À toi la victoire
Pour l’ éternité!
Opening chorus from the cantata “O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe” (O eternal fire, O fount of Love) BWV 34a (music BWV 34) by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – in English
O eternal fire, o fount of love
Kindle the sacred altar of these hearts,
Anoint this pair with your heavenly flame
Shower them with sparks of the noblest impulse
Sonata in B flat opus 65 no. 4, by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Allegro con brio
Allegro maestroso e vivace
Imagine a pavement café on a large square in Amsterdam. A woman sits reading the morning paper, sipping a cup of coffee. She turns to a friend and says, ‘Where is this all heading…?’
Sitting behind these two friends we see Professor Van der Leeuw, a theologian and one of our first prime ministers after the war. He cannot resist answering the question with another question. ‘Excuse me, but who told you that it should be heading anywhere?’
There is a well-known Dutch hymn that goes ‘Whither leads the path that we must follow?’ Where did we get the idea that the world should be heading somewhere? That we should be following a path in our lives? Clearly, it is something we sense deep within ourselves. And it seems that the whole meaning of our existence rests on the answer we give to this question.
Prior to our discussions to prepare for this special day, Friso and Mabel committed to paper their thoughts on their future together. They let me draw on these letters today. Friso described life as a journey, as a flight. Not surprising for someone who has studied aeronautical engineering and holds a pilot’s licence.
‘In times of peace and predictability,’ writes Friso, ‘you move forward in full flight. You think you know where you are heading. Sometimes you encounter some turbulence, but you don’t usually need to give what you are doing much thought. Things are going well. You are above the clouds, everything looks fine, clear and sunny.
Now and again you have to make a landing, sometimes scheduled, sometimes not. Landings can represent major turning points in life. Such as a change of career or course of study, accidents or setbacks, or the death of a loved one. These are also the moments when you can think about your next destination and about the passengers or copilot you want to come with you.’
Those who know her – and here, Friso, I would like to put your letter aside for a moment – are aware that you have found a lovely and able copilot. As you got to know each other, you gradually became aware – after a few ups and downs, as is to be expected when two people with differing temperaments and backgrounds fall in love – how close you were becoming. There was a kind of electricity between you, or ‘flames’, to use the words of the Song of Songs, that jewel in the bible. Flames ‘of the Lord’, the poet ventures to say, because he is unable to explain otherwise how two people fall in love and cannot contemplate the idea of being without each other. Flames of the Lord, he says, and – as we will soon hear from the choir – ‘many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it’.
And indeed, many turbulent waters have coursed over your love. Some people found it difficult to understand you in the events that gave rise to this turbulence. Yet others say that they did understand. But if there is one thing that has been made plain to us all, it is the strength of your love. It proved capable of withstanding what befell you and, if anything, it has become even stronger.
It is apparent to all of us that people have not always done you justice. And maybe it wasn’t easy to know you properly, with both of you living abroad. People tend to resort to conjecture, and their guesswork is often wide of the mark. It was therefore good that you had the courage to offer us greater insight into your lives and your expectations of life by taking part in a television interview. It was also clear to us, Mabel, how warmly and fully your husband’s family had taken you into their midst.
Let me now return to Friso’s letter. You both wanted to get married in church, so I asked you how you saw God. ‘God,’ you said, ‘fulfils the same role in my life as the navigation equipment in an aeroplane. As a pilot, you don’t know exactly how it works, but then you don’t need to, as long as you know what you can do with it. Using this equipment, you can fly further, with greater certainty and fewer worries than would otherwise be possible. Its most important quality is that you can always rely on it; you know that it points you in the right direction. If your attention lapses and you stray momentarily from the right path, you know that He is there for you’ – you write ‘He’ here with a capital ‘H’ – ‘that He is there to set you back on course. He does this without making a judgment on how or why you have strayed. If you are lost in cloud or mist, if you no longer know where you are or what you should do, you can always count on His help to get you out of difficulty. If you have to make a landing, He makes sure you can find the airfield and touch down safely. And, as you continue your journey, He shows you the way to go. Marriage’ – you go on to say – ‘is just such a landing for me. Mabel and I have had an interesting, turbulent, but pleasant flight. I am sure that we will arrive safely, and will take off again safely too. This is why I think it is important that we get married in church and ask for God’s blessing on our future journeys together.’
There are moments in our life when our wings seem to be broken, when we seem to be numbed. I have in mind what both Friso and Mabel have been through in their lives in terms of illness and worries. Not only do we sorely miss Friso’s father today; Mabel too has lost a father, on two occasions, her second father having meant no less to her than her first. But at the same time, said Mabel, my faith in God is so deep that it always overcomes every setback and disappointment.
Your mother, Mabel, recalled how, at nursery school, you lapped up the Bible stories. And that from the age of about ten you knew you wanted to become a missionary. You have in fact become one, although your concern now is not to tell people in other countries about the Bible, but, together with others, to provide advice and financial support for people in eastern Europe who are making the transition from dictatorship to an open and responsible society. And to work in this way to achieve more justice and humanity in this world. Because, as you put it, that is what faith in God demands of us and also stands for.
I enjoyed reading in the newspaper about your appearance together with other former pupils at the anniversary celebrations of your old school in Hilversum. Your enthusiasm in talking about your work was so infectious that one pupil decided there and then to do a degree in political science instead of medicine, so that later she might be able to work for a human rights organisation. So you see, Mabel, you have become a kind missionary.
It seems to me that you have always been in a bit of a hurry. That is to say, time has always been precious. As a student in Amsterdam, if you had to wait quarter of an hour for the tram, you would unfailingly do so with a course book on your knee. Perhaps this trait was reinforced by the loss of your father when you were nine. ‘It made me realise,’ you said, ‘that life is not endless. Life,’ you went on, ‘is a wonderful, unique gift, its only insurmountable limitation is time. It is not only a shame but also shameful to do nothing with your life.’ You both experience life as a unique gift and – I hesitate to say this – as a calling.
Which brings me back to the story we have just read, in which Moses is called by God to lead his people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt. ‘I have surely seen,’ said God, ‘the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large.’ But Moses was unsure whether he could trust this voice, and answered, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?’ And God said: I WILL BE THERE. Tell the children of Israel that I WILL BE THERE has sent you.
It was of unprecedented significance for the whole of human history that the people of Israel were the first people to give the name ‘I WILL BE THERE’ to that mystery we refer to by the word ‘God’. By this they meant: we can have faith in this world and this life. There is a sustaining force – Israel saw this sustaining force, entirely in the spirit of the time, as a person, an image that people cannot really do without and which I think we should hold onto – there is a sustaining force, which we do not invoke in vain, and which manifests itself repeatedly in human history. A force that is not the sole privilege of the ancient people of Israel, but of all people. A force to which all the injustice in the world, all tyranny must yield again and again; a driving force that ultimately brings people together and reconciles them, as surely as its name is I WILL BE THERE. A force, a God who does not remain idle as people are humiliated and crushed, a God who calls people towards a world of justice and peace, the world he envisaged when he began. A God who continually mobilises people to speak for him and do his work on earth. There operates on high, in Friso’s words, a celestial navigation system, which we would do well to use, at least if we wish to get anywhere with this world.
I WILL BE THERE. This is four letters in the Hebrew. They are depicted high in a window of this church, a window dedicated to Prince William of Orange, who was born in Dillenburg in 1533. On 24 April, this very day. The man who led the resistance against Spanish domination in these parts and who ultimately only found the courage to fight the Spaniards because God was his ‘shield and his trust’.
But if these four words form the essence of God, this has major consequences for us. Because if we believe in a God who says I WILL BE THERE, we can hardly fail to respond and not ‘be there’ ourselves when it really matters and someone calls on our help. We have to be there. After all, what can God do without people, without us? The Bible teaches us that not only do we need God to know where we should go in life, but that God also needs us. After all, as the Old Testament says, man was made in the image and after the likeness of God. That is his calling. And if this origin can no longer be seen in him, his life is a sorry affair.
If you want to know, says the Good Book, who God is, then look at those people in history who have embodied him like no other. Look at Moses, and the prophet Isaiah. And Jesus of Nazareth who, it seems, understood and mirrored God like no other. His words, said the people, were the words of God. God spoke through this man. In this man, God came down to earth to set an example, as it were, for mankind. Yet, he came back with holes bored through his hands.
And what is happening today in this church is this: two people are becoming joined together with this God, as we have come to know him most profoundly in the man from Nazareth, so that their lives, like his, shall be meaningful. Seeking that love to which God holds the secret.
Paul tried to describe God’s love, as we have just heard in that sublime passage. Love, he says, and you could also say true love, ‘suffereth long, and is kind; […] believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things’.
Needless to say, Paul is describing here not what he sees every day, but what he does not see every day. He describes the love to which God holds the secret. He is actually describing God himself. He cannot do so in a single word, and sometimes he is better able to express what love is not, rather than what it is. Love ‘seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil’.
It is in this spirit that these two people, whom today we support with our friendship and love, will strive to live their lives together. They will endeavour to be as God to each other. To be there – in his spirit – for each other.
And now Mabel can set off with Friso on their shared future; now she can find the courage to do so, because Friso will tell her, echoing God’s words to Moses when he asked his name, ‘Trust me Mabel, I will be there’.
And Mabel will say the same to Friso, in his commitment to her and in all they will encounter in their lives together, ‘Trust me Friso, I will be there.
Wedding dress and other attires
The bride’s wedding dress and the outfits worn by the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys were designed by the Dutch couturiers Viktor & Rolf. Mabel Wisse Smit was closely involved in the design process. A team of four assistants spent more than 600 hours creating the bride’s dress.
The dress has a close-fitting bodice, a boat neckline and a flared skirt. The seams are concealed by a pattern of checks with handmade bows covering the points at which they intersect. There are 248 bows in all: 128 on the skirt, 85 on the bodice and 35 on the train.
The dress is made of white satin duchesse from Lyon (15 metres). 30 metres of silk georgette were used for the trimming and bows, all of which are cut on the bias. The train is 2.75 metres long, and 3.15 metres including the ribbons.
The bride’s shoes, styled in the same satin as the dress, were made by hand in Italy. They are trimmed with bows to match the dress.
The bride’s tiara is a reworking of a sapphire coronet made by the celebrated jewellers Mellerio dits Meller of Paris in 1881. The original was ordered by Willem III as a gift for Queen Emma. It has been mounted with diamonds for the wedding of Prince Friso and Mabel Wisse Smit.
The bride carries a spring bouquet of delicate white flowers, with fragrant lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis), snowdrops (Leucojum aestivum), crowfoots (Ranunculus), guelder roses (Viburnum) and jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum). A scattering of white roses (Rosa Maroussia and Rosa Akito) and the same star-shaped eucharis that Princess Beatrix chose for her own bridal bouquet complete the arrangement.
The two bridesmaids wore ice-blue satin blouses with a bow trimming the collar, and long, slightly flared skirts of dark blue crepe, closed by means of a sash. Their dark blue suede and patent leather shoes were hand-made in Italy.
The boys wore dark blue tail coats, matching trousers of cotton and silk velvet, a white cotton poplin shirt, and a cummerbund and bow of ice-blue satin to match the bridesmaids’ blouses.
The flower girls wore dark blue jackets of cotton and silk velvet, dresses of pale blue satin organza with a white collar, set off by an ice-blue satin cummerbund.
Bridesmaids and bridal children (Copyright: Bernard Rübsamen/Royal Portraits)
The groom’s witnesses
The witnesses for the bridegroom at the church ceremony in the Oude Kerk were:
- HRH The Prince of Orange, the bridegroom’s brother
- HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, the bridegroom’s brother
- Lodewijk Beijst, a friend of the bridegroom from his student days in Delft. He studied business administration and is currently the director of Superserver.
- Dante Weijerman, a friend of the bridegroom. They met playing golf while at primary school. Mr Weijerman studied law in Leiden and is currently a director of the Central National Company. He is married with three daughters.
- Sophie Baroness von der Recke, a cousin of the bridegroom (her mother, Christina Baroness von der Recke-von Amsberg, is the youngest sister of the bridegroom’s late father). She is an artist and lives in Hamburg, Germany.
Prince Constantijn and Lodewijk Beijst will also be witnesses at the civil marriage.
The bride’s witnesses
The witnesses for the bride at the church ceremony were:
- HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, a friend of the bride and sister-in-law of the bridegroom.
- Eveline Wisse Smit, the bride’s sister. She studied economics in Amsterdam and plays hockey in the first women’s team of Amsterdam Hockey Club.
- Nicoline Wisse Smit, the bride’s sister and the mother of Lotte, one of the flower girls. She studied at the Maastricht Hotel Management School and has her own public relations and communications firm, Wis en Waarachtig.
- Andrea Knap-Kleekamp, a friend of the bride. They met playing hockey when at secondary school. She studied French language and literature in Amsterdam and Paris, and is married. Her son, Max, is a page boy at the wedding.
- Willemijn Verloop, a friend of the bride. They met when Ms Verloop began working for the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans in 1994. She studied history in Amsterdam and is now a director of War Child Netherlands, of which Mabel Wisse Smit was a founding board member (1995-1996).
Nicoline Wisse Smit and Andrea Knap-Kleekamp will also be witnesses at the civil marriage.
- Sophie Baroness von der Recke
- Eveline Wisse Smit
- Lotte Crombag (aged 4), daughter of the witness Nicoline Wisse Smit and godchild of the bride
- Max Knap (aged 6), son of the witness Andrea Knap-Kleekamp
- Anna van Lippe-Biesterfeld van Vollenhoven (aged 3), second cousin of the bridegroom
- Theodora Petalas (aged 9), granddaughter of Johan Christian Baron von Jenisch, the late godfather of the bridegroom
- Friso Wisse Smit (aged 3), second cousin of the bride
- Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
- Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
- The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands
- Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
- Princess Irene of the Netherlands
- Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme
- Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme
- Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme
- Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven
- Prince Maurits and Princess Marilène van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
- Prince Bernhard and Princess Annette van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
- Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
- Prince Floris van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
- Princess Christina of the Netherlands
- Baron Karl and Baroness Theda von Friesen née Von Amsberg
- Baron Hans von der Recke and Baroness Christina von der Recke née Von Amsberg
- Florence Wisse Smit née Kooman
- Nicoline Wisse Smit
- Eveline Wisse Smit
Royal and noble guests HM
- King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja of Norway
- HH Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa of Bahrain
- HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal and HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan of Jordan
- HRH Princess Rahma bint Hassan of Jordan
- HRH Princess Sumaya bint Hassan of Jordan
- HRH Princess Badiya bint Hassan of Jordan
- HRH Prince Rashid bin Hassan of Jordan
- HRH Prince Kyril and HRH Princess Rosario of Preslav (Bulgaria)
- The Duke of Parma
- Fürst Ferdinand and Fürstin Elisabeth von Bismarck
- Mr George Soros, founder and president of the Soros Foundations Network
- Mr Aryeh Neier, director of the Soros Foundations Network and founder of Human Rights Watch, and his wife
- Mr Mark Malloch Brown, director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and his wife
- Jan Peter and Bianca Balkenende
- Thom de Graaf
- Herman Tjeenk Willink
- Janus and Vanessa Smalbraak née Jonkvrouwe Loudon
- Jonkheer Rhoderick and Emily van der Wyck née Bremers
- Martin Schröder
- Paulette Schröder
- Roeland and Barbara Jacobs née Boomsma