One thing is certain: the people in the Netherlands can hardly have missed the fact that Queen Máxima turns 50 on 17 May 2021. Already for weeks there are (special) magazines focusing on the event, several books have been published. There are tv-programs and a real interview. My mother, who got two books from me to read, said she finds all the attention a bit too much. Despite of some negative publicity in the past year, the interest in Máxima’s 50th birthday shows how popular she actually is.
Like other Dutch I first heard about Máxima in the last days of August 1999. Photos of Prince Willem-Alexander with a blond woman in Italy and at a wedding in London turned up in the media. While at first it says her name is Máxima Herzog, it was known she was from Argentina. On 31 August 1999 the journalist Ineke Holtwijk of the newspaper “De Volkskrant” reported her name was actually Máxima Zorroguita. Nearly correct! At the time Máxima lived in New York and was working for a bank. It soon became known that her father Jorge Zorreguieta, had been a member of the government during the Videla-Regime 1976-1981.
It later turned out that Willem-Alexander and Máxima had met each other at the Feria in Sevilla in April 1999. In the months to come the photos appearing were mainly paparazzi-photos. On 31 January 2000 Willem-Alexander came with Máxima to the birthday party of his mother Queen Beatrix. When in May 2000 it turned out that Máxima had moved to Brussels, Belgium, and worked there, it became clear that the relationship was getting more and more serious. The long-awaited engagement was announced on 30 March 2001, after hours of speculation, as all people knew was that there would be some kind of announcement later that day. Like most Dutch I watched the engagement on television. I saw her probably for the first time in reality from quite a distance at the wedding of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien in The Hague in May 2001, then again at the wedding of the crown princely couple of Norway in August 2001 in Oslo. In November 2001 I saw them during their tour through the Netherlands, when they visited Groningen and the streets were packed with people. However I travelled to Amsterdam for the wedding on 2 February 2002.
Since I have been following Máxima as a journalist, but also as a royalty-watcher. I’ve seen her several times, both in the Netherlands and abroad. As a down-to-earth person from the north of the Netherlands I sometimes find her a bit too extravert, but she is doing a great job. Honestly her Dutch could be a bit better, she often repeats the same words. But I’ve seen her develop into a princess, a queen, with her own interests, a mother of three beautiful daughters. The young woman in that somewhat stiff red engagement dress turned into a fashionable queen. She is confident, knows how to put people at ease, shows enthusiasm, laughs a lot. Máxima knows what she wants, what she can achieve, which topics she finds most interesting. She supports and complements her husband Willem-Alexander who in April 2013 became King of the Netherlands perfectly. To my opinion she is a true asset to the Dutch royal family and knows well how to promote the Netherlands.
Happy 50th birthday, Your Majesty!