Mabel-Gate October 2003

Letter of HRH Prince Johan Friso to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

The Hague, 9 October 2003

Dear Mr. Balkenende,

In connection with the coverage in the media over the past few months and recent questions in the Second Chamber Mabel Wisse Smit and I have reflected the events and our own role in them. We have come to the conclusion that we ourselves have played an important part in the situation which has arisen now. Therefore we would like to offer our sincere excuses to the Government, and the Queen and especially you. Before drawing my conclusions from this Mabel and I wish to give you our vision on the situation.

In the Autumn of 2000, when it became clear to us that our relationship might possibly once lead to a marriage, Mabel has told me about the contacts she had with Mr Bruinsma more than ten years ago. Since we have discussed this friendship in all openness. I am well up in the matter of the relevant facts and details.

Because Mabel was never involved in the criminal activities of Mr Bruinsma and as it didn’t concern a love affair, I myself never saw an interference for Mabel’s contacts with the Royal Family, nor for a possible marriage with the consent of the States General.

Already at an early stage we decided not to be secretive about these contacts but we did decide to make known as few details as possible to third parties. Also in our conversations with the Queen and you before June 30 of this year we kept following that line. We thought to prevent that way what now has happened: dragging up painful memories of which Mabel had hoped that they belonged to the past. In the past weeks it became clear to us how naive and unwise this decision has been.

Unwise, because we have not realized enough that especially in our contacts with the Government immediately full openness about the character, the frequency and the duration of the friendship should have been given. By not doing so uncertainty had arisen about what really has happened.

Naive, because we should of course have realized that especially those details of these contacts once could become public and that we never could avoid this by our own action. Now that this actually has happened we have to face an overwhelming attention of the media; a ‘hype’ in which some people try to damage Mabel´s reputation by spreading untruth, rumours and details which do not matter.

During the conversations with you in the period before the announcement of our marriage we gave the impression that it had been a superficial relationship of about two and a half months in 1989, with afterwards an occasional meeting. The contacts should mainly have to be seen in the range of sea sailing and should have been ended by Mabel after she became aware of Mr Bruinsma’s activities.

What we should have said in June was that it was more than a superficial relationship and that they have had regular contact with each other for three months in 1989. When Mabel became aware of his activities she decided not to continue her friendship with Mr Bruinsma in the same way. However she has seen him with some regularity in the following one and a half year. It is also a fact that Mabel has stayed at Mr. Bruinsma’s several times. However the truth remains that there there never business contacts between Mr Bruinsma and Mabel, nor did they ever had a love affair. Besides it has only became fully clear to her after his death with which practises he really was occupied.

With this explanation we absolutely do not want to justify our way of action and it is clear to us that we have made a serious mistake by not telling the whole story immediately. With the consequencesof our action the Queen, you, both our families and ourselves are now confronted.

In June you have expressed the intention to introduce a bill of consent at the States General. This was according to our wish in view of my connection with the Royal House, our respect for the Queen and her family, and the supporting role which Mabel and I possibly could fulfil.

Your decision was partly based on the incomplete view we had recalled regarding Mabel’s contacts with Mr Bruinsma. Because we have not been open in all ways in time, your confidence in us has been violated. We admit our mistake and accept the consequences. Therefore it is now our wish that the Government doesn’t introduce a bill of consent for our marriage at the States General. Herewith we also hope to avoid damage to the Queen, the Royal House, our families, friends and others.

Partly as a result of our actions Mabel’s family and others who never knew Mr Bruinsma, were, fully unjust, involved in the discussion around this case. There are also some people who because of this situation again are confronted with very painful facts from their past. We hope that their right of privacy will be respected as quickly and as fully as possible.

We also very much would like to offer our excuses publicly in a proper way and at the therefore right moment to everybody we have disappointed or hurt. Also because of that we don’t mind the publication of this letter, which you, if desired, can see as a statement.

We will bear the consequences of our actions in a worthy way in our further lives. We still have the intention to get married in the Spring of 2004. Together we hope to be able to continue to support my mother and family.

Yours sincerely,

Was signed,


October 9, 2003

Letter of the Prime Minister to the Chairman of the Second Chamber of the States General

October 10, 2003

After conversations with HRH Prince Johan Friso and Miss M.M. Wisse Smit the government has decided not to introduce a bill at the States General in order to obtain consent for their intended marriage as meant in article 28 of the Constitution. The reason for this is that incomplete and unjust information was provided to the government, through which the confidence was hurt. This decision of the government agrees with the wish of HRH Prince Johan Friso and Miss Wisse Smit to renounce the earlier intention of the government to benefit legal consent for the marriage. Enclosed I send you the letter of October 9, 2003 of HRH Prince Johan Friso to me, in which he and Miss Wisse Smit offer their sincere excuses for this.

Below the government explains the considerations of her decision, including her involvement in the on June 30, 2003 announced engagement between HRH Prince Johan Friso and Miss Wisse Smit.

On June 16, 2003, HRH Prince Johan Friso and Miss Wisse Smit have made known to the government their intension to get engaged. Besides they expressed the wish to obtain consent for their marriage as meant in article 28, third paragraph, of the Constitution.
The obtaining of legal consent has the constitutional importance, as is said in the second paragraph of article 28, that the right of hereditary succession stays. On the ground of the Law membership Royal House the membership of that also will endure and also the fiancée will legally become a member of the Royal House by closing a marriage for which the constitutional required permission has been granted. The government therefore has to check if there is talk of obstacles that could stand in the way by the handing in of a bill for consent for an intended marriage.

I have therefore, immediately after I was acquainted with the intension for the engagement, asked the Dienst Koninklijke en Diplomatieke Beveiliging (DKDB = Service Royal and Diplomatical Security) on the ground of its legal order to research relevant facts or circumstances that could form a risk or threat for the safety of the members of the Royal House. I also asked the Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD = General Information and Security Service) to report about her findings on the ground of article 6, second paragraph, of the Law on the information- and security services (WIV) to possible obstacles.
Further a few extensive conversations have been held with Miss Wisse Smit and HRH Prince Johan Friso between June 16 and 28, 2003, of which three profounding conversations by me personally; one only with Miss Wisse Smit and two with HRH Prince Johan Friso and Miss Wisse Smit together. In these conversations as a matter of course has gone into the whole curriculum vitae of Miss Wisse Smit. In these conversations she has pointed out to have had contacts in the past among others with the late Mr K. Bruinsma during several months in her student time, when she also took part in sailing races. Miss Wisse Smit declared that she decided to end these contacts when she realised with which activities the late Mr Bruinsma was occupied. She declared that it had been a normal contact and no business or intime contact.
The extensive and deep conversations, the report of researches of the AIVD and of the DKDB all gave the same view. The conclusions were identical: there were no obstacles.
The Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations together with me will further confidentially inform the commission for the Information and Security Services of your Chamber about the character, contents and result of the performed researches.

In the past few weeks new questions have arosen about the contacts of Miss Wisse Smit with the late Mr Bruinsma. Fitting in with this she has answered questions of the media a few days later on September 25, 2003. In these for me a few new facts were put forward. On October 3, 2003, I have asked the DKDB and the AIVD to continue their research.
Further I have held a next, penetrative conversation with Miss Wisse Smit on October 3, 2003, in which she provided new facts about her contacts with the late Mr Bruinsma. From that it appeared that the statement about her contacts with the late Mr Bruinsma Miss Wisse Smit had made to me earlier in June, has been incomplete and unjust.
Based on the provided information in June there was created confidence that this was complete and right. Now this appears not to be the case the confidence has been hurt. Therefore the government, considering the important constitutional consequences that are connected with the questions and the obtaining of consent for a marriage as well as the essential character of this question, can’t bear the responsibility for the introduction of a bill to obtain consent for an intended marriage as meant in article 28, third paragraph, of the Constitution.
That means that HRH Prince Johan Friso will not be hereditary successor and member of the Royal House anymore from the time of his marriage with Miss Wisse Smit that is foreseen on April 24, 2004.

The AIVD and the DKDB will as is usual finish the requested continued research as Miss Wisse Smit through her marriage will become a member of the Royal Family and thus has direct access to the head of state. The Second Chamber will be informed about the result of this research in due time.

It need not to be said that the government together with the engaged couple highly regrets the course of events. The government accepts their excuses and speaks out the wish that they can build up their further lives together and that their privacy will be respected.

The Prime Minister
Minister of General Affairs,

Mr.dr. J.P. Balkenende

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