Flowers, a simple note expressing sympathy, a silent prayer. Amidst the frantic preparations for Friday’s private funeral of Prince Friso, who passed away Monday aged 44, there was also time to remember the second son of former queen Beatrix, and father of two young girls, aged 8 and 7.
Dutch media showed surprise at the decision of the Royal Family to bury Prince Friso in the small village of Lage Vuursche, a community of about one hundred people, best known for its Dutch pancake restaurants and its leafy surroundings. Lage Vuursche of course is also the past and future home of Princess Beatrix, who owns her own little ‘castle’ there, Drakensteyn.
Beatrix bought Drakensteyn in 1959 and lived there from 1963 till 1981, when after becoming queen she moved out to Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague. Later this year is will move back, as she abdicated in April and will vacate the Palace for her son and successor King Willem-Alexander and his young family.
Next to Drakensteyn, adjoining its newly erected and much discussed outer security fence, is a small protestant church and a small cemetery. Beatrix not so long ago ‘donated’ some extra land for an extension.
It is here Prince Friso will be buried, and not in the Royal Vault in Delft’s Nieuwe Kerk which has been the royal burial place since the dynasty’s founder William of Orange was assasinated in 1584. In fact Friso will be the first member of the royal family in well over a century who will not be buried in Delft.
Prince Friso, born 25 September 1968 in Utrecht and raised at Drakensteyn, was for a long time second in the line of succession. He took that position serious, but hoped he would not have to take his brother’s place. The Prince cherished his freedom, encouraged by his parents who thought their two youngest sons should pursue their own careers.
Friso lived and worked in London for over a decade. He enjoyed take the tube to work, loved the anonimity, of having a coffee at a neighbourhood Starbuck’s. He lost his place in the succession when he married the love of his life, Mabel Wisse Smith in 2004. Her past caught up with her in the run up to the wedding.
The Prime Minister at the time, Jan Peter Balkenende, felt slighted he had not been told all the details of her past and refused to ask for parliamentary permission; Friso and Mabel by then had come to the conclusion they would not ask for it anymore either. With Friso’s sister in law Princess Máxima expecting her first child (Amalia, now Princess of Orange, 9) it had little consequence for the succession.
Friso (M. Sc. MBA) remained fiercely loyal to his family and even to Holland, while maintaining his distance and raising his family and advancing his career: McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, TNO Space, Wolfensohn, Urenco. He was of course still a member of the royal family, but no longer a member of the ‘Royal House’ – a legal term used to describe those still in line of succession and their partners.
Friso’s untimely death meant that the Royal Family had to decide what kind of funeral would be appropiate and desirerable: pomp in Delft, or a more private affair, in line with the Prince’s position and way of life. The latter was chosen and in Lage Vuursche on Wednesday preparations were under way. King Harald of Norway, Friso’s godfather, will attend, but no more than 80 guests are expected in the small church and cemetery. The general public and media will kept at a distance, out of view.
© RoyalBlogNL, Hans Jacobs