The wedding of Willem-Alexander and Máxima – Pre-wedding activities

Marriages News

Last modified: 10 December 2012

The wedding interview, 18 January 2002

Walking through the park of Palace Huis ten Bosch in The Hague Willem-Alexander Prince of Orange, his fiancée Máxima Zorreguieta and their interviewers Maartje van Weegen and Paul Witteman stopped near the pond where the prince asked his girlfriend to marry him. Willem-Alexander said it was a beautiful day and that he thought it was about time that Máxima learned how to skate. They started at about 14:00h on Friday 19th January 2001 and it went pretty well – thanks to the fact that Máxima knew how to rollerblade – but after 2 1/2 hours Máxima was getting cold and was looking forward to a cup of hot chocolate inside the palace. Willem-Alexander lured her to the side of the pond and had to ‘klún’ (walk on the land with skates on) to get the roses and champagne he had hidden there and then asked Máxima to marry him. He said he had practised endless, but of course it always goes different. He asked her in English, so he could be sure she would understand him, telling “This will be the one and only time in my life I ever ask this” and Máxima said yes immediately. She told she wanted to shout it actually.

The interview continued at Drakensteyn Castle in Lage Vuursche, where Willem-Alexander’s parents had lived from 1966 to 1981.

Willem-Alexander and Máxima met at the Feria in Sevilla, Spain, in the Spring of 1999. They were invited by common friends. Because she had travelled already a lot for her work and to her family, Máxima at first decided not to go, but changed her mind only two days before. 16 people from almost as many countries came together for a long weekend (three days). The hosts had asked Máxima to take photos and the first thing Willem-Alexander saw when he came in was a huge camera lens by which he became quite irritating and ran away from it. Máxima, who had been told before a prince was coming, but never had seen a photo of him, didn’t know it was him and found he was reacting kind of strange. But during the weekend the two started talking and talking and liked each other.

Three weeks later, after endless phonecalls of 3-4 hours a day, Willem-Alexander came to New York for a wedding and had a date with Máxima. She had actually forgotten how he looked like and was very nervous when he came. She was absolutely not disappointed in him. Before the Summer Willem-Alexander visited her in New York several times, but most of the time Máxima came to The Netherlands. They didn’t go outside a lot to keep their relationship secret. The relationship became known through a photo that was made from the yacht of Prince Bernhard in Italy in the Summer. Willem-Alexander told that not that long afterwards he paid a working visit to Arnhem that had something to do with inland navigation. “I have never known before there was so much press interest for inland navigation”, he joked during the interview.

Máxima had told her parents that she had a Dutch boyfriend whose name was Alexander. First she said to them he was a lawyer, then she told them he was a consultant. Finally she phoned them when Willem-Alexander was in New York and told them: “He is a Dutch Prince, not the youngest son, but the eldest son of Queen Beatrix”. They thought she had become crazy. “Are you crazy! You have your own life, you are independent. That is nothing for you.” Two weeks later they came to New York to see if everything was allright with her. They saw how happy their daughter was and concluded that Willem-Alexander was a good man for her. They accepted it, but of course they had thought of something else for their daughter. Willem-Alexander said he hadn’t kept it secret for his mother very long. About three weeks after the first meeting in New York, he actually was supposed to accompany his mother to a conference, but found Máxima was his first priority. He had to explain why he was not coming with her and just said: “Her name is Máxima, she is Argentinian, lives in New York and trust me. Don’t ask further.” And she didn’t. She trusted him. He didn’t tell his father and brother Johan Friso immediately. Prince Constantijn knew as he had met Máxima that first weekend in New York as he was invited to the same wedding as Willem-Alexander.

Máxima says she knew where The Netherlands were situated and knew a bit about the country, but actually only had been on Amsterdam Airport on her way to another European country. The first time she really was in The Netherlands it was a beautiful day, and later only saw something of the country during the weekends she spent there. The first she noted were the beautiful houses, people on bicycles and the canals. She had only seen them on photos. She thought it looked pleasant and calm. She first met Willem-Alexander’s family in Italy in the Summer of 1999. She was quite nervous, but it was very relaxed and quiet. Queen Beatrix carefully asked her something about her background, education, work and plans for the future. Prince Claus started talking with her in Spanish and wanted to know a bit more about Argentina, her own experiences, literature and art. Willem- Alexander met Máxima’s family for the first time in Argentina. Only Máxima’s parents knew at that time who he was and they told nobody so they could learn to know him the way he was. Not even her brothers, sisters and other family knew who he was. Willem-Alexander was a bit nervous, but Máxima said she knew everything would be allright.

After the proposal Máxima knew her life would change drastically, every time a bit more. “You can’t say beforehand what will happen to you exactly, but I had some idea. How you go through it later on, is a totally other experience.” One thing was sure: she loved him and he loved her. It had never come up for discussion that the Parliament wouldn’t give permission for the wedding, although the press has speculated about it. A few days before the proposal Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Wim Kok knew Willem-Alexander was going to ask Máxima to marry him. “You can never be sure, because you never know what the Parliament will decide. But it wouldn’t have been sure with any woman.” “Asking someone to marry you, you do unconditional”.

Máxima said that she was aware of publicity always. Already in New York outside her house or work a camera could be nearby. “For all it was difficult to protect the people around me. Myself I had accepted the consequences of my relationship with Alexander.” Once someone broke in at the house of a friend to steal photos of Máxima, and that was very difficult. You can’t stop untrue stories in magazines, but “it is important to have a private life, as you need that”. There are no big secrets, but “a private life is very necessary to carry out public duties as a couple”. They try to hide their private life as good as possible.

Máxima said it is nice that so many people liked it to see them during the tour along the 12 Dutch provinces. It was for all The Netherlands makes acquaintance with Máxima. The visits to the provinces were very nice and the people did their utmost best to show the best of their provinces and they got information about many interesting things. The visits really lived in The Netherlands and the welcome was very warm. It would have been very bad if she wouldn’t have been accepted. The visits were just the beginning. Máxima said that she will deepen herself in The Netherlands more after the wedding, as you can’t learn to know a country within 16 days. In the future Máxima hopes to earn her popularity not by only smiling and waving, but because of involvement with the country and supporting Willem-Alexander. The warmth of people made the visits easier, although she couldn’t sleep in the nights before the first visits. Presentation has a lot to do with upbringing Máxima said. Her parents always said: “You are who you are, be human, be nice. People deserve that.”

Máxima comes from a very close family. They phone every day and support each other a lot. Máxima said that her younger brother Juan and younger sister Inès were actually her little children, as they were much younger than her, and it is difficult to accept that they have become adults by now.

Máxima said she didn’t want to be a typical banker. She actually wanted to do something with art, like opening her own gallery. Many of her friends in New York, including her sister Dolores, are artists and she wanted to help them selling their art and for all support young artists.

Máxima said she likes to listen to music – from classical to rock. She likes the tango a lot, but only started to appreciate it when she lived in New York. She always found the tango a bit oldfashioned and sad. In New York she started listening to the tango, which made her feel at home, and learned how to dance the tango although she is not very good in it. Since the films of a dancing Máxima on a party in Argentina she has grown up and has become older, but she stays a Latino and keeps on dancing. Willem-Alexander said he likes to dance also. Máxima tries to learn him the tango, but said laughing: “The hips are a bit stiff, but he can do it.” Willem-Alexander said he hopes Máxima stays herself: spontaneous, interesting. It will not always be difficult, but stay yourself.

As a child Máxima didn’t notice a lot of the Videla regime she said, although their was of course lots of violence, everybody was nervous, they had security and had to take another street each day. But children think more about playing and friends. But her mother was ill a few times because of the tension. Her parents always told their children that everything was allright to protect them. In 1983 all stories came to the outside. She met people who knew people who had disappeared, but in the beginning actually didn’t believe the stories. When the stories became official she found it “awful, incredible, how could it happen?” She went to her father with her questions and asked him what exactly had happened. He told her he didn’t know what had been going on, and she still believes him. He didn’t have a reason to lie to her. There was always place to discuss the subject in the family. Máxima always rejected the Videla regime, something her family and friends knew. Willem-Alexander admitted he hardly knew something about Argentina in the beginning of the 1980s, and only learned something about the country from Argentinian fellow-students at school in Wales, but not much. He also rejects the Videla regime and knows how Máxima thinks about it as they have discussed it and Máxima told a lot of facts to him. He also spoke with her father and asked him why he joined the Videla-government. Jorge Zorreguieta told Willem-Alexander he knew of three cases in which the people returned, but didn’t know anything of people who didn’t return. Máxima said about the inquiry by Professor Baud about the Videla-regime and Jorge Zorreguieta that was issued in March 2001, is Baud’s opinion and that there are people who think different. She and Willem- Alexander believe her father didn’t know anything. They respect her father’s decision not to attend the wedding. Despite other reports they didn’t have to convince him to take that decision and didn’t go to Argentina for that. Máxima informed him about the feelings in The Netherlands. Her father has made his decision all by himself and they respect it. He decided that if his presence would cast a shadow over the happiness and future of his daughter, he wouldn’t come. “He put the importance of his children in front. He is worried more about his children than about himself.”

They want to have their wedding day the way they like it to be as much as possible. They did a lot to put their own things in it. “The Nieuwe Kerk is no tv-studio and our wedding not a reality-soap”, Willem-Alexander said. “That the people want to enjoy a part of it is all right, but it is our wedding.” Máxima added that it is a very intimate moment that will be watched by many people. She thinks she’ll only see Alexander. Sometimes she just says to Willem-Alexander that they’d better run away and marry in Las Vegas. the official guestslist was completed in consultation with Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Wim Kok. The private guestlist was completed by the couple itself with some consultation. There will be many family members and friends. The service in church will be a reformed (protestant) one led by the Rev. Carel ter Linden. Máxima wanted something from her background at the wedding. Father Rafael Brown, the Zorreguieta family’s priest, will do a few things at the wedding that can be done by any layman like a prayer, so it is not a catholic element. Máxima called him a wonderful and very inspiring man. Máxima said she doesn’t know yet if she will become a protestant or stays a roman catholic. It is not a decision you take from one day to another. The reformed service was possible because she got dispensation from the catholic church. But as Willem-Alexander added that by chosing for a reformed service, also the problems after the oecomenical service of Prince Maurits and Princess Marilène in 1998 played a role in taking the decision.

Willem-Alexander and Máxima said that in their long phonecalls in the beginning of their relationship they discovered they were brought up with the same norms and values and Christian feelings, despite the difference in religion. The upbringing was very identical. A wedding is never guaranteed for 100%, but you hope it will work out. By having had the same strict but justified upbringing they hope the chance to succeed is higher. They hope to become happy.

Máxima said she didn’t know where their honeymoon goes to. Willem-Alexander said he doesn’t think there are rules that he has to attend the Olympic Winter Games because he is a IOC-member. He thinks he has a good reason to cancel his stay in Salt Lake City. After the honeymoon Máxima doesn’t know yet what she will do. She first wants to deepen her knowledge about The Netherlands, to get used to her new life, to search how she can become valuable for herself and the country. In the first place she wants to support Willem- Alexander. Sharing a life together is new. Willem-Alexander said that public life is full of nice challenges and restrictions. You choose for it. It is a challenge, Máxima said, to have a private life and bring up children as normal as possible. Willem-Alexander protected and helped her and set an example how to do it with future children.

Jeugdjournaal interview, 27 January 2002

The interview was given at Drakensteyn Castle to two reporters of the Youth News. Children sent their questions for Willem-Alexander and Máxima to them.

Where did you meet?
Willem-Alexander and Máxima met at a party in Sevilla. They were invited by common friends. She didn’t like him immediately. He first saw her camera and thought: “Oh, no!” But the same evening they started talking and they found out they liked each other a lot.

Is all this interest nice?
Máxima: It is difficult to be in the limelight and to get used to it. You are aware of the fact that people look at you or take photos when you are doing something private, like buying a present for a friend. But before the relationship became known she was in The Netherlands several times and was never caught. She among others tried to hide by wearing baseball caps.

Do you eat from golden plates?
Willem-Alexander: No! We don’t even have them.

Are there servants in the house everywhere?
We have servants, but not always and not everywhere. If we have guests they help to make it cosy and bring the food. If we are alone there are no servants around.

Do you cook yourself?
Mostly not, and many times we just warm something up in the magnetron. Máxima says she likes to cook, but Willem-Alexander doesn’t. Sometimes he helps her in the kitchen. Willem- Alexander says he likes sprouts, already from the time he was a child, although most children don’t like them. He also loves pea-soup, but Máxima tells it is not really her favourite food. She thinks croquettes are delicious, although taste a bit different from the Argentinian ones.

Did you have pets when you were a child?
Willem-Alexander has two labradors now. He got his first labrador, Carry, when he was a child. He visited a breeder, who didn’t want the labrador because he had a black spot behind one of the ears. They also had lots of chickens and rabbits at home.

How were you as a little girl at school?
Máxima: I talked and laughed too much in the classroom, I had lots of friends, was very sportive.

Did they ever punish you at school?
Willem-Alexander: “Of course! I surely wasn’t the most honest boy in the class”. And Máxima tells she sometimes had to write 100 times “I am not allowed to laugh loud in the classroom”.

Kylie Minogue or Jennifer Lopez?
Máxima and Willem-Alexander: “Jennifer Lopez”

Hip Hop or Rythm and Blues?
Willem-Alexander: “R & B”.

Do you still like to dance?
Máxima says she likes to dance and go out, but it is more difficult to go out now to dance because you are well-known. But she dances at home sometimes, also together with Willem-Alexander.

How will the wedding be?
There will be many friends. Máxima says that she knows about 70% of her friends from kindergarten or primary school, and also some of the friends of Willem-Alexander are from this time. Willem-Alexander admits he sometimes wakes up at night and thinks about all the things that still have to be done, but that he isn’t really afraid that something goes wrong. Máxima says that she still didn’t practise how to walk in her wedding dress. She admits she is a bit afraid that something goes wrong if she walks in her dress and steps on it. Willem-Alexander doesn’t know what she is going to wear.

How are you going to tell your parents about the wedding?
Máxima: “I will call them” and then of course as soon as it is possible.

Are you going to kiss at your wedding?
Máxima: “That will be a surprise.”

The Government Dinner, 25 January 2002

Prime Minister Wim Kok and his wife Mrs Rita Kok-Roukema hosted a dinner in the Ridderzaal (Knights’ Hall) in The Hague in honour of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta to celebrate their intended marriage. Invited were members of the Dutch royal family, the Zorreguieta family, members of the Cabinet, the Speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses of the States-General, the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, as well as the Ministers Plenipotentiary and the Presidents of the Parliaments of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. From the royal family Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus, Prince Johan Friso, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven were present. An aunt of Máxima Zorreguieta was accompanied by Máxima’s brothers Martín and Juan, sister Inès and sister-in-law Mariana. The four courses of the dinner were accompanied by different kinds of wine. The music is played by the Royal Netherlands Marines Capella, a steelband and tango music (and dance), and a duet composed by Henry Purcell of the The Hague Royal Conservatory.

The Speech of the Prime Minister during the dinner

The Royal Bridal Couple,
Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highnesses,
honoured guests,

On behalf of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom it gives me very great pleasure to extend to you, Your Royal Highness and to you, Ms Zorreguieta, a very warm welcome to this government dinner in honour of your forthcoming wedding on Saturday, 2 February 2002. It is a great honour and a pleasure for all of us that you have accepted our invitation to attend this dinner here in the Ridderzaal.

I should also like to address a word of special welcome:
– to you, Your Majesty and to you, Your Royal Highness Prince Claus;
– to Their Royal Highnesses Prince Johan Friso, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Princess Margriet and Mr Van Vollenhoven;
– and to Mr and Mrs Martín Zorreguieta, Mr Juan and Mrs Inés Zorreguieta.
We also greatly welcome the presence of all the witnesses and attendants who will be supporting and assisting the Bridal Couple on their wedding day.

Royal Bridal Couple,
I know that I speak on behalf of very many people in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, and on behalf of our compatriots elsewhere in the world, when I express my great pleasure and sincere joy on the union into which you will shortly be entering.

All of us have experienced weddings in our own families and circles of friends. Every wedding is a very special moment in the lives of two people and those dear to them. It is a day which requires a great deal of preparation and to which those involved look forward with a great deal of emotion. Indeed it is a day of emotion, a day which evokes feelings of tenderness and feelings of joy, especially at the moment when the bridal couple exchange their commitment to mutual love and fidelity.

In this respect, your forthcoming wedding is no different from other weddings.

And yet at the same time it is an extraordinary wedding because it concerns the future of the heir to the throne.

From my position as Prime Minister I have come to know you over the past eight years, Your Royal Highness, as you prepared for your future tasks. In doing so, you have shown a particular interest in the fields of water management and the world of international sport.

The announcement of your engagement to Máxima Zorreguieta – born and raised in Argentina – was an important moment, both for you and for all the people of the Netherlands. Our Crown Prince, the Prince of Orange, was to be married. You first got to know your future wife in the imposing and romantic Royal city of Seville, in the land of her forefathers. And it happened in the springtime, the season of love. It was not a case of love at first sight, as I understand it, but it was not long before the initial attraction developed and deepened into true love.

You made your marriage proposal in the winter of 2000/2001. You did it on the ice: a more typically Dutch scene would be hard to imagine. Whilst Máxima was gasping for a steaming mug of hot chocolate you, Your Royal Highness, came to her with roses and champagne.

The splendid exhibition ‘Holland Frozen in Time’ is currently on display in the Mauritshuis Royal Cabinet of Paintings here in The Hague. It is an exhibition which demonstrates that the ice has for centuries had the power to make the hearts of people from all walks of life beat faster.

The poet Gerard den Brabander put it like this in his sonnet on ice skating:
The citizenry swoops and glides up and down
the brief expanse of densely peopled ice
Their blood runs faster, more elegantly in their veins
a courtly young man kneels tenderly
before his loved one and fastens her skates;
their arms intertwine with love and tenderness they push off;
they swirl hither and forth
and gaze at each other in shining delight.

That is not precisely how it will have happened on 19 January 2001. But it will have been an event full of love and emotion. We have all recently been able to see and hear how – admittedly after some rehearsal – you, Your Royal Highness, made your proposal.

The step which you both took on 30 March 2001 followed a period of careful, well-considered and responsible reflection. Reflection on everything that has to be taken into account when two people set out to prepare themselves for the heavy tasks of the future. It has been my privilege to see this from very close quarters.

It was not an easy period; it was a period with sweet and bitter moments. In marriage, sweetness and bitterness stand as symbols for the union between two people in good times and ill, as the former Dutch Prime Minister Jo Cals said in 1966 when you, Your Majesty, Prince Claus, married Her Majesty the Queen.

The period of engagement is a time to get to know each other as future spouses. For you, Ms Zorreguieta, your engagement also meant embracing a new and still relatively unfamiliar country, with a different culture, a different way of life.

It also meant learning to live with the enormous interest shown in everything you did and everything you do. The way you conducted yourself on 30 March last year, and the trouble you have taken to master our – anything but easy – language, have earned you great esteem in the Netherlands. I would like to convey to you our great respect for the enthusiastic, open, honest and sincere way in which you have continued since then to make every effort to get to know us and to give us an opportunity to get to know you.

The massive public interest during your visits to the twelve provinces and four major cities of the Netherlands are an indication of how eager the people of our country are to get to know you. And your forthcoming visit to the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in May of this year will undoubtedly also be greeted with great enthusiasm by the population there.

Máxima Zorreguieta, you have stolen the hearts of very many people in our country and in our Kingdom. You have become a Dutch citizen, one of us; you belong with us, and we will be delighted to welcome you as Princess of the Netherlands after your marriage.

Royal Bridal Couple,
On Saturday, 2 February 2002 you will enter into the estate of marriage. It is clear that you have the strength, the will and the conviction to face the future side by side. The people of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba share in your happiness.

On behalf of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom, I had the honour earlier today of presenting you with a wedding gift: two silver sculptures of a rare and attractive Dutch bird. I hope that you will be able to enjoy the gift for many years to come, in happiness and prosperity.

I would now ask everyone to raise their glasses and to wish you, our Royal Bridal Couple, an unforgettable and festive Wedding Day and a future full of happiness, prosperity and health as man and wife.

The Speech of the Prince of Orange during the dinner

Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
Custom still dictates that it is the male half of a bridal couple who speaks on such occasions. How long that custom will remain, I don’t know – not much longer, I suspect. However, that custom means that it is to me that the pleasant task falls of responding to your particularly warm words. At the same time, I am well aware that Máxima would be capable of performing this task just as well as, if not better than me, and probably in better Dutch.

As I hear myself speaking in this historic hall, I feel a little like the member of the British Upper House who once recounted a dream he had had. He said: ‘I dreamt that I was addressing the House of Lords and when I woke up, I was.’

In the run-up to our wedding, this dinner is a very special event. In the first place we wish to extend our very sincere thanks to you and the other members of the government who have invited us here as guests this evening.

But our thanks extend far beyond this evening. During the past year we have received – and needed – a great deal of support both from the government and Parliament. This has helped to make the path to our wedding smoother. We are both extremely grateful for the confidence that was placed in us in this way.

The purpose of our tour through the twelve provinces and four major cities was to enable the Dutch people to get to know Máxima, and to enable Máxima to get to know the Dutch people. We were very struck by the enormous amount of good will we encountered during that tour, and by the spontaneity and warmth with which so many people received Máxima and, as it were, welcomed her into their lives. We are looking forward with great pleasure to our visit to the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in May.

We are also grateful for the Orange Fund and for the very generous way in which so many Dutch citizens have contributed to it, as well as for the substantial contribution the government was prepared to make to the Fund. We chose this gift in the hope that it might help to further a sense of mutual community between the different cultures in our society. Thanks to this combined effort, under the motto ‘shoulder to shoulder, not back to back’, it will be possible to take initiatives in the areas of the young, culture, sport and education which will help bring the achievement of this goal closer. It is our firm intention to continue our personal involvement in the activities generated by the Fund.

As everyone will understand, for all these reasons we feel ourselves to be a very fortunate and privileged couple during this period. Sadly, there is one shadow on that sense of good fortune: the crisis which Máxima’s fatherland is currently going through. Every now and then, we suddenly find that our thoughts are there. We hope that wisdom and solidarity will help ensure that the socio-economic tide in Argentina will be turned as quickly as possible.

Mr Prime Minister, The relationship between us has to date been a very special one – and it is likely to remain so in the future. I have much to thank you for: your advice, your support and the many things you have said which have given me food for thought. On several occasions we have had an opportunity for a good, open exchange of views. More than once you have been willing to put your trust in me. For that, too, I am extremely grateful.

There is really only one thing left for me to say. My public utterances fall under your ministerial responsibility. I would therefore express the hope that you will find yourself able to agree – at least in broad terms – with what I have just said.

We thank you all!

Party weekend, 26-27 January 2002

The Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta invited about 300 members of the family and friends for a party weekend a week before their marriage. Among the guests among others Queen Beatrix, Prince Johan Friso, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Prince Maurits, Princess Marilène, Prince Bernhard, Princess Annette, Prince Pieter- Christiaan, Prince Floris, Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme, Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme, former girlfriends of the Prince of Orange like Emily Bremers and Yolande Adriaansens both with partner. The children of Princess Christina of the Netherlands however left for the USA when they heard their paternal grandmother Edenia Guillermo had died in Florida.

On Saturday afternoon the guests were received at Madurodam, where tourists usually can see the Netherlands on scale. At the entrance of Madurodam tens of photographers and royaltywatchers who tried to get a glimpse of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta. The guests arrived in blue busses. Unfortunately this Saturday the weather was very rainy, so the guests needed umbrellas. But because of the heavy wind that also wasn’t really a good alternative.

Afterwards a reception took place in a grand glass hall in Madurodam. The bridal couple received a valuable draugth screen. After a speech of the Prince of Orange it was party time with music of the Blauhúster Dakkapel, which was a great success. Even the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta were dancing as well as Queen Beatrix. At about 16:00 the guests were taken back to their hotels to dress for the evening party at Palace Noordeinde.

The party continued at Palace Noordeinde at 19:00. Máxima Zorreguieta arrived by car together with Queen Beatrix. The Prince of Orange was waiting for them at Palace Noordeinde already. Máxima wore a wonderful red silk dress. Inside South-American music sounded in the ballroom of the palace: a salsaband and a DJ. Especially for Máxima the Cuban dance orchestra Manolito Y Su Trabacho were flown in. The bridal couple and their guests swinged until the late hours.

On Sunday morning the bridal couple offered their guests a brunch at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. It was clear the party had ended quite late when very sleepy guests and bridal couple arrived. Only Queen Beatrix seemed to have slept well while Máxima did her best to look well. Prince Claus wasn’t present.

Programme of the pre-wedding festivities

Thursday, 31 January 2002

18.30: The 64th birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. A private dinner and reception are held for special guests at the Royal Palace at the Dam Square in Amsterdam.

Friday, 1 February 2002

12.00-15.00: A lunchtime concert is given by the Royal Concertgebouworkest at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. 19.45: Willem-Alexander and Máxima attend an event organised by the National Orange Committee and the municipality of Amsterdam in the Amsterdam ArenA stadium. About 50.000 people, from each Dutch municipality, are invited. Marco and Sita perform their wedding song while the rest of the programme contains music, theatre and dance. Furthermore Willem- Alexander and Máxima receive the national wedding gift.

Wedding and birthday ball, 31 January 2002

Two days before the wedding Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands invited the wedding guests for a dinner and a huge ball held at the Palace on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. It wasn’t only the wedding ball, but the Dutch royal family and their guests also celebrated the 64th birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Foreign guests arrived in Amsterdam early on January 31st, in time for the ball. Among others the Queen herself, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentein, Princess Margriet, Princess Irene, the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta already arrived at the palace around 15:30 in the afternoon. More than 500 guests arrived in cars, smaller and bigger busses early in the evening, part of them even from the Krasnapolsky Hotel on the other side of the square. Security was high these days. Hundreds of people, including many journalists and photographers, stood behind the fences to get a bad glimpse of the known and less known guests. Some hours later the first guests left. At about 22:45 the first to leave were Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg, quite quickly followed by Prince Laurent of Belgium. Many of the younger guests didn’t leave until after 3:00 in the morning. During the ball bride and groom danced on ‘New York, New York’.

The lunch concert, 1 February 2002

In the morning the guests had already enjoyed trips in Amsterdam. At 12:00 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam a lunchconcert (including lunch) took place on the occasion of the wedding of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta for which 1600 guests were invited. The concert was executed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with as chief conductor Italian Riccardo Chailly, who also compiled the suite being played: ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Chailly has been conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as chief conductor since 1988. Before the actual concert the Dutch national anthem – the Wilhelmus – was played and even Máxima showed she can sing it. The Programme Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953) – Suite from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1935-36/46) Montagues and Capulets Morning Dance Scene Romeo and Juliet The Death of Tybalt Romeo and Juliet before parting Romeo at Juliet’s tomb The Death of Juliet

At the end of the concert the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta came on stage to give flowers to the chief conductor and the first violinist. The Prince of Orange thanked the orchestra for the wonderful performance and also thanked mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen and the city of Amsterdam for the ‘astonishing hospitality and the enormous efforts that are made to make our wedding in this city possible.’ and joked that for this occasion they could better have rewritten the end of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. As a surprise for Máxima Zorreguieta a tango was played: “Habanera”.

Concert in the Arena, 1 February 2002

The Nationaal Oranje Comité and the municipality of Amsterdam organised a huge party at the ArenA, home of the football club Ajax Amsterdam. The programme of the evening, that was kept secret till the end, offered music, theater, acts and dance. The theme of the evening was “More together, together more”.

On Friday afternoon Christine and I took the subway from Amsterdam centre to the ArenA. Christine had managed to get two tickets for the party via her work, not even two weeks ago, and invited me to come with her. We were quite enchanted to be among the 50.000 people from all over the country who had been able to get a ticket and came to the ArenA with 650 busses, extra trains and own transport. Some were invited by municipalities, others by companies or organisations. When we arrived we saw people queued up in front of the entrances, but happily at our own entrance we were able to enter immediately. Finally inside it turned out we were just in time for the warming up programme and enjoyed it. Meanwhile we had a look at the ArenA and the people around us. Many people dressed in the national colours orange, red, white and blue and everybody looked relaxed and happy.

Finally at 19:00 the ouverture started with music from all 12 provinces of the Netherlands as well as Aruba and the Dutch Antilles. Each province had sent a band that played the provincial anthem or a song that came from the area. I was surprised to see Advendo from Sneek, my hometown, playing for the province of Friesland. The more bands came in the better the sphere in the stadium became. Some well known songs were sung loudly by the public among them “Tulips from Amsterdam” and the last Dutch Eurovision Songcontest winner (from 1975) “Ding a Dong”.

At 19:45 the party really started with the spectacular entrance of hostess Loes Luca, who came in a white limousine, while the bands played Rossini’s ‘La gazza ladra’. Meanwhile we also saw royal guests entering the royal box. Christine and I were happy we both had small spy-glasses and to our surprise we had quite a good look at the royal box. Loes Luca started welcoming Queen Beatrix and her guests and made everybody, including Queen Beatrix and Prince Johan Friso laugh, when she joked: “But for you everything isn’t always easy either! This is already the second prince who flies out, so it becomes more and more quiet in the palace.” Afterwards she started practising the entrance of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta with the public and made us laugh when she ordered Prince Johan Friso and Prince Constantijn to translate what she said for the foreign guests. And then they finally came in an oldtimer, while we all were shouting loudly: “Surprise!”. Everybody was sheering and waving, including the royal guests, and the couple enjoyed very much being driven around the arena so everybody was able to see them sitting and waving in the open back of the car. Máxima wore a wonderful red pantsuit. Then they walked up to the royal box, sat down and the real programme began.

Known and less known musicians and artists from the Netherlands succeeded each other: Willeke Alberti (‘Morgen ben ik de bruid/Tomorrow I am the bride’), Marco Borsato (‘Binnen /Inside’), Kasba (‘Hada Rai’), the National Ballet (‘Groosland/Brandenburg Concerts’), Trijntje Oosterhuis (‘You are so beautiful’), Ten Sharp (‘You’), She got game ‘extended’ (‘Places you find love’), Zuco 103 (‘Peregrino’), Liesbeth List & Frank Boeyen (‘Heb mij lief/Love me’), Brainpower (‘Overal/Everywhere’) and Van Dik Hout (‘Stil in mij/Silent inside of me’). Finally the wedding song ‘Lopen op het water/Walking on the water’ was sung by Marco Borsato and Sita and everybody sang along. Between the songs and shows also small films were shown. One of them showed youth photos of the Prince of Orange and we could see the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta enjoying it very much, allthough the Prince of Orange himself seemed a bit relieved when it was over. Looking at her reactions Máxima would have liked to see much more of these photos.

I enjoyed myself listening to the music and observing the royal box that was full of interesting people. In the lighted part there were two rows of people of which I was able to recognise most of them. Front row: Juan Zorreguieta with girlfriend (?, flirting all the time), Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Mariana and Martín Zorreguieta, Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen with his wife (I think), Máxima Zorreguieta, the Prince of Orange, Queen Beatrix, Prince Johan Friso, unknown (lady in waiting?), Princess Laurentien, Prince Constantijn, Inés Zorreguieta, Marcela Cerruti, an unknown couple, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Pieter van Vollenhoven and another unknown couple.
Back row: Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, Prince Ferdinand and Princess Elisabeth von Bismarck, Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Sonja and King Harald V of Norway, Graça Machel, Nelson Mandela, the Prince of Wales, Queen Noor of Jordan, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. We also saw Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium just after they had entered the royal box. And the newspaper said that also prime minister Wim Kok and his wife Rita were present.

It was not until Saturday a woman of the organisation standing at the stand below them told me that below the lighted part next to Dutch politicians some more royals were seated, most of them of the younger generation: Prince Bernhard van Oranje-Nassau Van Vollenhoven with his wife Annette, the Prince of Asturias, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and on television I also saw Prince Maurits and Princess Marilène van Oranje-Nassau Van Vollenhoven, Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. The woman also told me that some students who were seated just below the younger royals had started singing ‘You are so beautiful’ for Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, who didn’t really knew what to do with it and seemed to be very glad the serenade was over.

Just after 21:00 the national wedding present – the Oranje Fonds (Orange Fund) – was handed over to the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta. The fund, of which the Prince and Máxima will be the patrons, is levelled at the mutual alliance between the various cultures in the Netherlands. In the future the fund will expand activities aimed at youth, sports, culture and education. So far 3.600.000 Euro was given by people and companies. The couple came down to the arena and Loes Luca gave another of her humorous speeches and wished the couple ‘lots of luck tomorrow, and also for all the days afterwards’. With the arms around each others shoulders the Prince and his fiancée listened.

Soon Loes Luca asked a little boy on a bicycle to come in. The boy stopped in front of the couple and then an orange ribbon came down from the top of the ArenA. The boy tried to get it down, but the Prince of Orange had to help him. That gave us an hilarious view: after the boy pulled the ribbon down, the Prince of Orange put him back on the ground and while the boy got away the Prince was totally covered with the orange ribbon. 250 Students dressed for a ball came in and volunteers came in with the letters “ORANJE FONDS!’that were put on the ground in front of the couple. The Prince of Orange gave a short speech thanking everybody very much for the wonderful present. Then around 21:15 it was time for them to leave, cheered again by 50.000 people and the music of ‘At the Amsterdam canals’.

Christine and I stayed at the ArenA as the party ended with a short concert of Marco Borsato, who is one of the most popular singers in the Netherlands, and kept on singing and enjoying the evening. The couple drove back into town and joined the party given at the Amstel Hotel, where most of the royal guests were staying.

The wedding song

Sung by Marco Borsato and Sita Vermeulen

Marco Borsato & Sita Vermeulen – Lopen op het Water

In een seconde
kwam zonlicht door de wolken heen
Een tel met jou is mooier dan
een eeuwigheid alleen
Ik was bang om lief te hebben
en mijn hart heeft stilgestaan
maar met jouw armen om mijn middel
kan ik de wereld aan

‘t Is als dansen op de sterren
‘t Is als vier seizoenen in een nacht
Dit is voor een seconde
los zijn van de zwaartekracht
Ik kan lopen op het water
Ik kan zonlicht zien voor dag en dauw
vliegen zonder vleugels
en allemaal door jou

Jij onthult me jouw geheimen
Het is alles wat ik horen wou
Ze waren veilig bij me
maar ik deel ze moeiteloos met jou
Mijn gedachten en mijn dromen
zijn alleen op jou gericht
Ik spring lachend in het diepe
met mijn ogen dicht

‘t Is als dansen op de sterren
‘t Is als vier seizoenen in een nacht
Dit is voor een seconde
los zijn van de zwaartekracht
Ik kan lopen op het water
Ik kan zonlicht zien voor dag en dauw
vliegen zonder vleugels
en allemaal door jou

Marco Borsato & Sita Vermeulen – Walking on Water

(Translation)
In one second
the sunlight got through the clouds
One moment with you is more beautiful than
an eternity alone
I was afraid to love
and my heart has been standing still
But with your arms around my waist
I can manage the whole world

It is like dancing on the stars
It is like four seasons in one night
This is for one second
being free of the gravitation
I can walk on the water
I can see the sunlight before daybreak
flying without wings
and everything because of you

You reveal your secrets to me
It is all I wanted to hear
They were safe with me
but I share them without trouble with you
My thoughts and my dreams
are only addressed to you
laughing I jump into the deep
with my eyes closed

It is like dancing on the stars
It is like four seasons in one night
This is for one second
being free of the gravitation
I can walk on the water
I can see the sunlight before daybreak
flying without wings
and everything because of you

Lyrics written by: Troy Verges/Brett James/Hillary Lindsey
Dutch translation: Han Kooreneef/John Ewbank
English translation: Netty Leistra

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