The bridal couple (photo copyrighted by the RVD)
With peacocks shouting in the background Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands and his fiancée Laurentien Brinkhorst gave an interview for the Dutch television in the garden of Palace Huis ten Bosch, the residence of Queen Beatrix. It was broadcasted on May 15th, 2001, two days before the civil wedding.
Preparations for the wedding: The arrangements had to be made in a relative short time. It was difficult to find the right balance between the emotional and the practical aspects. We had to travel between Brussels and the Netherlands. There is a big difference between being together and the decision to choose for each other. The engagement caused emotional reactions by acquaintances and totally unknown people. The co-operation between the couple and their parents went wonderful with relation to the preparations. Sometimes you hear about troubles because both families have other ideas about the wedding. Probably the wedding will be very protocolair, but everybody has got the chance to give a lot of himself.
Church and family: It is very important to us to let the marriage consecrate. It is a promise to a higher order. You can use support from above in your life. Laurentien said to take with her from home the fact that her parents have been married already for 40 years. The values she learned at home and finds very important are respect, loyalty, give the best of yourself and the gratitude for the chances in life you get. Constantijn said his parents stimulated them a lot to go their own way. For all his father has given him the space to do the things he wanted to do (professional). He saw Constantijn as an artist (he likes drawing) and had hoped his son would have gone in that direction. He must have been a bit disappointed when his son decided to study law. He appreciates his mothers involvement in things, her sense of duty, creativity, interest in people, her affection towards people (always be there for people). In his father he appreciates his style, independant thinking and his objectivity.
Study and profession: Laurentien said her interest is to build bridges. In her work she does that by building bridges between companies and the various groups in society. In her freetime she has teached Dutch illiterates and she hopes to continue this work. Constantijn said that Laurentien likes helping people and is very interested in them. She is very interested in other people's problems. She'd like to go some more to the management side in her work. She has stayed in Brussels for nine years and that is longer than she lived on most other places. She will miss it a lot, but they want to make a new start in London. They are looking forward to London a lot and want to start a new life together there. They already have many friends there, both having a brother who lives there and several other family members. Constantijn will become a business advisor, which is quite analytical work. He will advice by the making of important decisions and he thinks the work will be fascinating, because of the variation. It is an intellectual challenge to come to practical solutions by thorough analysis. He wrote his final work at university about help to refugees and also has been engaged with that subject in Brussels. The problems of the people sometimes are made less important that the problems in housing and handle them. The subject is too political for him to make it his daily work, but he wants to keep busy with it.
Being well-known: Constantijn told the moving from Drakestein Castle to The Hague in 1981 meant that he was not anonymous anymore. He fell more and more looked at. You can't always shake off the fact of being a prince. Laurentien said people are reacting to you in a different way, and she wasn't prepared to that. Most likely you learn how to manage with that, but it will be a process that takes months, years and in fact always. Constantijn supports her a lot.
The future: Constantijn said he doesn't know what the future will bring for him as a member of the royal family. If Willem-Alexander needs him and Prince Johan Friso he can always appeal to them. The filling in of the task depends on the circumstances Willem-Alexander will ascend the throne in, when that will be and what his needs are. Constantijn hasn't done a concrete offer. The current co-operation of Queen Beatrix with Princess Margriet and her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven suits in the relation they have.
Children and parents: Laurentien said she hopes to get three children. The discussion about the fact that their children don't become prince(sse)s doesn't concern them a lot as it is a more political discussion. They are not immediately involved. The most important is that the children get their own names: van Oranje-Nassau and Van Amsberg. Years ago Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, the father of Laurentien, has pleaded for a smaller Royal House and a smaller political role of the Head of State. Laurentien said he says that already for 30 years and never changed his mind. But both her parents stand fully behind her. She has a good relation with her parents. In a democracy everybody is allowed to have his own opinion.
Willem-Alexander and Máxima: It is self-evident that Willem-Alexander and Máxima get lots of attention. It is a special situation as they will become the King and Queen and it are two very special people. Máxima and Laurentien can share the fact of being engaged to two brothers and the joy of becoming a part of this family and can support eachother. You feel supported by the warmth in the royal family. In Brussels Laurentien and Máxima have become very good friends. It is great to have the chance to share with the other couple. Constantijn said Willem-Alexander and Máxima didn't have an easy period. It is a big relief to see what an enthusiasm there is, because they deserve it. They have talked about it with the couple in this difficult period. Now it is clear the consent will be given to the marriage of Willem-Alexander and Máxima. Constantijn said it should be very strange if he as the number three in line of succession would ascend the throne. Constantijn said he doesn't share the opinion of many experts that that could happen.
The wedding: The wedding days are, according to Constantijn, successful if Laurentien will say yes. And Laurentien says she won't say no. They are looking forward to the wedding very much and hope to celebrate it surrounded by many family members and friends. The music will be great and they are sure the service in church will be wonderful.
Thursday, 17 May 2001
Friday, 18 May 2001
Saturday, 19 May 2001
The guests arrived between 11:00 and 11:30 at the former Town Hall of The Hague at the Javastraat no 26. Most family members arrived with the blue royal bus. For all Máxima Zorreguieta, the fiancée of Willem-Alexander Prince of Oranje who had her 30th birthday today, was cheered loudly and some school children even sang for her. Not present were Princess Juliana, the children of Princess Christina and Prince Floris, who couldn't leave his current trainee job but will be there on Saturday. Afterwards the car with Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus and Prince Bernhard, and the car with Laurens-Jan en Jantien Brinkhorst arrived at the Town Hall. Queen Beatrix went inside with her father. All guests were greeted by Burgomaster Deetman. Next to most members of the royal family, the wedding was also attended by some foreign guests and the members of the Dutch Cabinet.
While the guests were talking to each other animated, bride and groom arrived before 12:00 in a semi-open car. Laurentien wore a pink shantung dress with coat and an enormous light pink hat. As soon as the bride and groom had taken their seats Burgomaster Deetman started his speech, that mainly was about The Hague, the Oranje-Nassau family in The Hague and the fact that both bride and groom spent part of their lifes in The Hague.
Then the moment came that the couple said yes to each other, first Laurentien and then Constantijn, and as soon as they had done that the Burgomaster declared they had entered into matrimony. Constantijn gave Laurentien an emotional kiss on her hand. Then they signed the matrimonial certificate. They took their seats again under loud applause while their witnesses signed the certificate also. For Prince Constantijn that were his brother Johan Friso and his good friend Mikkel Hofstee, and for Laurentien her best friend Sophie van de Wouw and her brother Marius Brinkhorst. On television they said that Mrs van de Wouw's son Floris will be one of the bridal pages on Saturday. Also Burgomaster Deetman signed and afterwards handed over the certificate and the fountain- pens they had signed it with to the bride and groom while wishing them all the best for the future.
By request of the marrying couple 86-year-old Max Kohnstamm, a godfather of Prince Constantijn, made a speech. As a pioneer in European thinking, Mr Kohnstamm in his speech among others said that in the 21st century we all have to be at home in several worlds, surely people as Constantijn and Laurentien, who are internationally orientated. He said to be convinced that the couple will find the ways to find a place for all those worlds in their big hearts.
Finally the family had the occasion to congratulate bride and groom. Very shortly Constantijn and Laurentien met with the press, but didn't answer a lot of questions. They said they are waiting with the real kiss until Saturday. Several family members and friends lined up along the blue carpet outside and when the couple left they were bombed with rose leafs. They stepped into the car and left for Palace Huis ten Bosch where a private reception with lunch was held.
A big party took place at Palace Noordeinde in The Hague. Among the people present were Princess Christina of the Netherlands with her children Bernardo and Juliana Guillermo, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and his fiancée Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, Princess Astrid of Belgium and Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este and Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein.
A Gala Coupé with one pair of Gueldres horses.
Mr Marius E. Brinkhorst and Mrs Elizabeth (Liz) Brinkhorst-Roberts.
A Gala Berline with one pair of Friesian horses.
HRH The Prince of Oranje, Ms Máxima Zorreguieta and HRH Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands.
A Gala Glass-berline with four Friesian horses.
HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Mr Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Mrs Jantien Brinkhorst-Heringa.
A Gala Landau with one pair of Friesian horses.
Bridesmaids and bridal children.
Honorary escort by the Corps National Police Service.
A Gala Landau with six Gueldres horses.
HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands and Miss Laurentien Brinkhorst.
Honorary escort by the Cavalry.
Bride and groom arrive at the church at 11:00 and are not only waited for by the Military Police but also by their saluting bridal children.
Along the route there were old militaries, military men and people in various national costumes.
Lectures were read by Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Willem-Alexander Prince of Oranje.
After the wedding the newly-wed couple rode back from the Grote Kerk to Palace Noordeinde. About 15.000 people stood along the route to get a glimpse of the bride and groom. About 2,5 million people watched the wedding on television.
The wedding dress
The ivory coloured dress of radzimir silk was designed by Belgian Edouard Vermeulen of the House of Natan, who also designed the dress of Princess Mathilde of Belgium in December 1999. The train was 3,65 metres long. Also the dress Laurentien wore on Thursday was designed by Edouard Vermeulen.
The bridal bouquet
The bridal bouquet was made by Fernanda Hora Siccama. In the bouquet were orange-blossom, gardenia, bougainvillea, Emerald Green rose, Avalanche rose, snowball (Viburnum) and Convallaria (lily of the valley).
The wedding rings
The rings that were exchanged were made of platinum.
The witnesses are family members and friends of bride and groom. The bridesmaids are a cousin of the groom, and the daughter of the general secretary of Queen Beatrix, who is also a friend of the Brinkhorst family. Alice von Oeynhausen-Sierstorpff's father was bridal page of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus in 1966 and her grandfather was a bridal page of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard in 1937. Floris de Nijs Bik and Gabriella Crossick-Kountourides are godson and goddaughter of the bride. Julius-Constantin von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen is the godson of the groom.
In church were more than 1400 guests.
The Dutch royal family and relatives of the bride
Unfortunately Verena couldn't be there this time, so Henri and I left home as early as we could. The first city bus in Apeldoorn from Henri's house left at 7:30, so we were able to take the train from 8:00. That, however, meant we weren't in The Hague until 9:30. As the church wasn't that far from the railway station, we walked, like tens of other people. The Binnenhof, where the Dutch government seats, was still very quiet when we passed it. We saw they had placed a big tv-screen there, so people could watch the ceremony in church. Near the church we passed two groups of people in costumes, one from Spakenburg and one group with people from Volendam and Marken.
We found ourselves a place in front of the entry of the church (Grote or St. Jacobskerk), although many metres away on the other side of the road and only fifth row. We hadn't seen people we knew yet, but soon afterwards Hein and Andrew - the last one came all the way from England - showed up and stayed with us. The weather was nice and the sun was shining, unfortunately in our face. We were talking and meanwhile watched the guests arriving. So far only unknown people and Dutch politicians. It was not until 11:30 that the noble and royal guests showed up. As we were standing too far away and there were too many people in front of us, we had to do our utmost best to recognise the guests. Later on we discovered we had missed several of the most important guests. The people around us wondered how it was possible that we knew the names of all those guests, even some of the less known.
Andrew had left us after the members of the Dutch Royal Family and bride and groom had arrived - who were all greeted with lots of enthusiasm. Also many others left, so we were able to stand second row, which was already better than before. As usual it took a long time before the service in church had finished. We had to stand there for almost 1 1/2 hour before everybody came out again. First bride and groom with the bridal children and bridesmaids came out and took their seats in the waiting carriages in front of us (but still too far away to make nice photos with a normal camera). Under loud cheering they left for their short carriage ride through The Hague from the church to Palace Noordeinde. We decided to stay and watch the most important guests leave. Then it was very difficult to get away. Although we tried we were at the Palace Noordeinde too late to see the balcony scene, but we heard bride and groom had kissed twice. We decided to have a look at the bookshop Van Hoogstraeten near the palace, where they sell several nice royal books. On the way to the palace I had managed to get myself an original order of service from the wedding after having asked several guests who were walking in the streets (they most likely weren't invited for the reception) if they had one for me.
I had made an appointment with Christine Kersten at 13:30 to meet after the wedding for a small Internet reunion. When Henri, Hein and I arrived at the meeting point we found Martina from Germany waiting for us. I had told her where she could find us. Soon afterwards also Christine turned up. We decided to drink something at the terrace nearby. As the sun was shining we sat there very comfortable. We were of course talking about the wedding, the guests and the Internet. I am not sure the wedding guests who were sitting next to us really liked our busy talking. But one of them was so kind to make some photos of the five of us. After we finished our drinks Hein offered us icecream. We decided to walk through the shopping streets and visited a bookshop while Christine picked up her wedding photos from the civil wedding on Thursday, which she showed us when she came back. Not long afterwards we split up and Henri and I went back by train to Apeldoorn after a great day in The Hague.