Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima bid farewell to their peers, the fellow heirs to the remaining thrones of Europe during a gathering at ‘Oude Loo’ castle in Apeldoorn soon after the announcement of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Of course they will remain good friends, but at formal gatherings they are no longer seated in the same section as Willem-Alexander moves up to the ‘Premier League’ of heads of state.
The friends return for the inauguration on April 30, as representatives of their respective royal houses and monarchies. With a full official programme there will be less time to catch up on the latest gossip and family news, at least for the new Dutch royal couple.
They are the first of their generation to come to the throne, taking into account that Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri are placed ‘in between’ as far as the ages of the European monarchs are concerned. Older than the current heirs and much younger than the other kings and queens. Britain’s Prince Charles, 64, fits neither category – in age he is much closer to Queen Beatrix, 75, than he is to her son and successor Willem-Alexander, who turns 46 on Saturday.
The royal guests at the Inauguration:
BELGIUM: Prince Philip and Princess Mathilde. The Duke of Brabant, 53, has been heir for 20 years after the unexpected accession of his father King Albert II in 1993. Many observers in Belgium expect the 78-year old king to abdicate in the near future, although many politicians have doubts about prince Filip/Philippe’s abilities.
DENMARK: Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. The Danish heir, 44, is a good friend of Willem-Alexander. They met often at family gatherings – Queen Margarethe is the Dutch prince’s godmother – and recently also at meetings of the IOC. Frederik’s turn at kingship will come after his mother passes away. Abdication is not on the books.
JAPAN: Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako. The announcement in Tokyo that after much deliberations Masako was allowed to travel to the Netherlands came as a pleasant surprise to ‘royalty watchers’ the world over. Masako has kept in close touch with the Dutch royals ever since they invited her, Naruhito, 53 and daughter Aiko to a much needed vacation at ‘Oude Loo’ in 2006. Masako’s parents live in the Netherlands as well.LUXEMBOURG: Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie. The youngest of the current generation of heirs, Guillaume, 31, is only seven months older than the ‘first’ of the next generation, Britain’s Prince William. Guillaume, although younger than the others, has always been included in their get togethers, and they all showed up for his elaborate wedding last year.
NORWAY: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Máxima’s first first hand experience at a foreign royal function was the wedding of Norway’s heir, Haakon, now 39, although she had been invited to the King of Sweden’s silver wedding celebration too. The two crownprincely couples have remained close ever since, coming together to sail and compare notes. Máxima is godmother to Prince Sverre Magnus.
SPAIN: Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. The Prince of Asturias, 45, has to watch is every step as the monarchy in Spain is under ever increasing scrunity because of the conduct of his brother in law Iñaki Urdangarín and King Juan Carlos’ errors of judgement and health problems. Abdication is now openly discussed, so Felipe and Letizia will pay extra attention in Amsterdam – no doubt smiling as they hear the Dutch national anthem which claims ‘the King of Spain is always honoured’.
UNITED KINGDOM: Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The Prince of Wales, 64, is the longest waiting heir in British history. In 1980 he already represented his mother Queen Elizabeth II at the inauguration of Queen Beatrix. Now, 33 years later, his back for yet another accession ceremony – still waiting himself. The Duchess of Cornwall makes her debute at a Dutch royal function.
SWEDEN: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. In the nineties immaginative and uninformed matchmakers had it in for Victoria, now 35, and Prince Willem-Alexander. Protocol meant they were often seated together at official gatherings, so they were frequently seen together. The two, although ten years apart in age, get along very well. Victoria is godmother to Princess Amalia, Willem-Alexander is godfather to Princess Estelle.
© RoyalblogNL, Hans Jacobs; Guests confirmed as of 4/25/2013