NETTY ROYAL

The Hague, 30 March 2001

The engagement of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta

uploaded: April 2001 / last modified: 6 December 2013

The announcement

Queen Beatrix:

For me and my husband it is a great joy to announce the engagement of our son Willem-Alexander with Máxima Zorreguieta. We, as parents, are particularly happy with their decision to spend the rest of their lifes together.

We have learned to know Máxima as an intelligent, modern woman, courageous, and loyal to all people she loves. She stood for the difficult decision to adopt herself to the special mission of life of our oldest son. Together Alexander and Máxima have experienced that this mission sometimes ask big sacrifices their love must be able to survive. They are very well aware that many people in our country have understandable hesitations against their love. They carefully have included these feelings in taking their decision. Now the engagement is official, I want to ask you all to give Máxima the peace and time to learn to know our country better and to deepen herself into our society. She must get the chance to feel herself at home here and to become Dutch as soon as possible.

My husband and I have full confidence that Alexander and Máxima shall supliment eachother and support eachother in the task they have. We are delighted to see their happiness.

Prince Claus:

When I look back now to the time of the engagement of my wife and me, I again remember what I then heard and what I also can recommend Máxima: learn Dutch as quick as possible. She did and she did it in a way that I can't compare to anything with the fumbling I then achieved. A question that you can answer very difficult and that was asked to me many times is: "How does it feel to be Dutch?" My answer is: "I don't know how it is to be Dutch. I have various loyalties. And I am a citizen of the world and European. And Dutchman, that is there also. As pater familias who sometimes asks himself if a pater familias is still a position that directly impresses I thus will welcome Máxima in the family and wish her that she finds the happiness of her life on the side of Alexander. Thank you!"

Máxima:

I am very happy finally to appear in public with Alexander. I first wish to thank the parents of Alexander for their fantastic support. That was very important for me. I am very happy.

Willem-Alexander:

Also I am very happy that I finally don't have to hide my love for Máxima anymore. Next to my parents I also want to thank the rest of my family and the friends who made Máxima feel at home here so that she wishes to stay here with me. But happily they will very soon have the chance to know Máxima better.

Presentation Willem-Alexander & Máxima

Willem-Alexander:

Hereby I proudly present you all my dearest fiancee Máxima. After almost two years in which we have intensively learned to know eachother I asked her on 19 January if she wanted to spend the rest of her live with me: a question that happily almost immediately was answered with a full yes. With such a decision you don't go too quickly and surely not if you with such a decision ask someone to give up a big part of her free and independent life. I have asked myself many times if I could do this to her. Each time I came to the conclusion that it was 100% the case, just because Máxima in her independency grew up to a personality with the right and strong character to play a very important role on my side. With her broad vision, her sense of humor, her intelligence and ability to relativate she can give me the support that will be necessarily for me in the future.

With her perseverance she was each time able to get the best out of me. We as a couple are able to enjoy intensively everything in the very restricted private life: from various cultural activities to strenuous and active outdoor sports. Happily we both share many hobbies, and we can laugh relaxed many times. I really hope that Máxima's new life will not lead to a restriction of her spontanity and joy in life. This woman is unique the way she is and I hope that she will keep these qualities; they will keep our relationship lively until the end!

In front of you you see the most happy man of the Netherlands, but happily also someone who in his love and happiness is not insensible to the feelings that lived and still live in the Netherlands about the origine of Máxima. Those feelings have of course played a big role in my decision to go further with Máxima. Various publications sometimes have put a big pressure to our relationship, and we have come out stronger until now. This start hopefully will have only positive effects in the future. I can only hope that the history will prove that we made the right decision. We can and will do our utmost best to serve the Netherlands in the future, as a couple, as good as possible, with conscience and honour.

For the decision of Máxima's father not to be present I have the deepest respect. This offer was brought in the interest of the future of his daughter in the Netherlands, because he loves his daughter a lot and has a strong bond with her. If we ever get children I hope that our future family will be as strong as the family of Máxima. After almost two years we now have made the decision to get engaged officially. Now Máxima can prepare herself thoroughly in peace and openess to her new life in the Netherlands.

You already know me almost 34 years and I understand you are just waiting to know my dear Máxima better. That is why I proudly give her the word.

Máxima:

I am so happy to finally appear in public with Alexander. The past years have been very tense. I never could expect that I would one day and in Dutch would speak. Since New York and Brussels and now The Netherlands lots of things have happened. I am very happy to go living here and learn to know the Netherlands. Now my real acclimatization can begin, in all peace and openess. And of course with the support of Alexander!

But I don't want to hide the feelings about my father. This is very difficult for me, but I will be really open and honest. What happened in this period in Argentina is terrible. I reject the Videla dictatorship, the disappearances, the tortures, the murders and all terrible facts from that period since a long time. They surely have left big scars in our society. Therefore I have comprehension for the big anxiousy of the Dutch about a difficult period in my country. Happily we have a democratic government already since more than 15 years.

Argentina is not a simple country, but a country full of contradictions; a country that knew many violence, but also constructive and positive periods. I come from this background and I learned from it how important it is to embrace values as democracy, justification, human rights and freedom. In that way I greatly admire the Netherlands and the way it propagates those values.

About my father's participation in the government of that time I will say honestly that I regret that he did his best for agriculture in a wrong regime. He had the best intentions and I believe in him. We all know how wrong this regime was. As Argentinian I regret that a lot.

I was born in a strong family and my father is, and will always be, the integer and devoted father who was always there for me. Also now he is with me. I feel it. I love him very much. My whole family stands implicitely behind me, but they understand also the feelings that live around this subject. Therefore my father is willing not to be present at our wedding, but it is very painful for my whole family. My family supports Alexander and me to take this big step. They do it because they know how much Alexander and I love eachother and how we believe in eachother. I am very grateful to them.

This is the most important decision of my whole live, taken in a very complex situation. I have thought about it a lot if I could handle and if I would be able to support Alexander. But all experiences and thoughts have made my feelings stronger. I am very happy to share my live with Alexander. We can conquer everything together. I am very happy to have found Alexander because he takes the best out of me. He is intelligent, loving, strong and stands with both feet on the ground. With Alexander I have something very special. Therefore I am very happy to share this with you today.

The address by the Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok

I am very pleased that I as first after Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Claus in name of the State Cabinet Council am able to congratulate today's engaged couple. I am sure I speak in name of many people in The Netherlands, the Dutch Antilles and in Aruba when I hearty congratulate Prince Willem- Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta with this engagement and the intended marriage. A special marriage, as it here concerns the future of our Crown Prince.

Over the past months I have spoken with the Crown Prince and his future bride many times and lengthy. That were intensive and pleasant meetings. The devotion of both of them has made a big impression to me. Of course we together have spoken intensively about the ideas and feelings in our country with relation to the serious occurrences in the recent history of Argentina. In name of the Government I just have sent a letter to both Chambers of the States General. In that letter also this subject is spoken about, in a way that to my opinion considers with what is going on about this between the people. I will speak about it more clearly in the later press conference.

In her letter to the Parliament the Government also announces to ask permission to the States General for the wedding. In my meetings with the Prince of Orange and his future wife I have noticed that they are very well aware of their future responsibility. I trust that in the coming years they both will prepare for the heavy tasks that wait for them with many devotion. About Máxima I can tell that she with full devotion shall dedicate to the new life that starts for her from today. I am sure that Máxima on the side of Willem-Alexander will win the hearts of the Dutch people. We are wiling to see the coming engagement with full trust. I again will wish the young couple all happiness, and a good future.

Statement of Jorge Zorreguieta

I find it necessary to make a statement about my participation in the military regime from April 1976 to March 1981 to explain my position to the Dutch people. Until now I have kept silent because I take the view that this matter concerns the private life of my daughter Máxima and because she and the Prince have asked me to. The continuing accusations that hit myself and my family and which I think are unfounded, make it necessary for me to declare the following:
1. The situation in Argentina in March 1976 at the time of the government of Isabel Péron was one of economical, social and political chaos. The political parties, trade-unions, the business life and the public opinion agreed that the armed forces had to restore the peace in our country to create a stable and peaceful democracy.
2. In a country as Argentina, where agriculture is very important for the economy, it was of vital importance to restore the sector after years of serious neglection by former governments. Because in the beginning of 1976 the country treathened to fall apart, I couldn't refuse to cooperate and accepted the function of Vice-undersecretary in April 1976, and in 1979 the one of Undersecretary of Agriculture. I have to point out that the Department of Agriculture, in contrast with other countries, was a technical department that fell under the Ministry of Economical Affairs and didn't have access to the meetings of the Cabinet Council.
3. The position was offered to me in 1976 because I had held several executive functions in the agricultural sector in the 16 years before, among others the presidency of the coordinating commission of agricultural organisation (in which various vegetations and regions are presented) and the presidency of the central commission of agricultural cooperations and other general rural organisations.
4. After 1969 subversive actions like terroristic attacks increased. They were mostly carried out on military bases, police offices and villages in the province of Tucumán by the groups Montoneros and the ERP (Revolutionary Popular Front). The campaign of the armed forces against those subversive groups had already started before 1976 by order of the then constitutional president Isabel Péron.
5. Within the Department of Agriculture people didn't know about the character of the oppression. Because the army operated in independent units in the fight against the guerillas, which were also organised in independent cells, information about the actions were military secrets to which we didn't have access. During my various foreign travels - the UN-Grain Conference 1977-1979, official visits to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Italy - I also didn't receive complains from anyone or comments about the violation of the human rights in Argentina. Functionaries, among them myself, and their families however received threats and had to deal with attacks. Those were a constant source of uncertainty and fear in our houses.
6. After 1984 the excesses that took place during this period of oppression were made known. I absolutely reject them, because I find each case of abduction, murder of torture unacceptable. Until today I am still very much hurt that during the period of office of the government of which I was a part such violations of human rights have taken place.
7. In the years that have passed since I have always taken part in the democratic life in my country, worked together with the parliament and with various levels of the executive power under the constitutional governments lead by the presidents Alfonsín, Menem and De la Rua. Never someone has reproached me that I have fullfilled a technical task in favour of the agriculture of our country in such a difficult time. I want to add that in 1983 I was appointed president of the UN-Sugar Conference 1983-1984, with the explicit support of the EEC. Further my countrymen who had served under the same government as me later became parlementarian, minister of officials under the democratic governments.
8. I believe in democracy and human rights, principles I find very important, and with which I have raised my children.
9. Summarized: I have acted in good faith and risked the lifes of my family to fullfill a specific task in the area of agriculture, that didn't have any connection with the oppression that took place in that time.
10. Like for each father it would be very important for me to accompany my daughter at her wedding. Contacts with the Dutch government however have led my to the conclusion that controversions about my presence at the wedding could have a negative influence on the future role and position of my daughter as a member of the Royal House of the Netherlands.
On the ground of this I am prepared not to be present at the wedding.

Jorge Zorreguieta's career

1961-1964 President of the Ateneo Rural de Buenos Aires and secretary of the Comisión Coordinadora de Entidades Agropecuarias.
1966 Secretary and treasurer of the Confederaciones Rurales Argentinas.
1970 President of the Comisión de Enlace de Entidades Agropecuarias (CONINAGRO).
1972 In the Comisión Directiva of the Sociedad Rural Argentina.
March 1976-March 1979 Vice-undersecretary of Agriculture in the Argentinian government.
1978 Interventor of the Junta Nacional de Granos.
March 1979-March 1981 Secretary of Agriculture and Cattle-Breeding.

Present functions:
May 1985 President of the Centro Azucarero Argentino (Argentine Sugar Center)
1995 President of the Fundación Vasco Argentina Juan de Garay
President of the commission of the Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas.

Report of Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud

By order of the Dutch Ministry of General Affairs Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud, professor at the University of Amsterdam and director of the Centre for Study and Documentation of Latin America (CEDLA) in Amsterdam, wrote the report "Military violence, civil responsibility. Argentinian and Dutch perspectives at the military regime in Argentina (1976-1983)". It was written to give information about the life in the Argentinian society in the period 1976-1983, the organisation and aims of the Argentinian military regime in this period, and the performance of political functions by Jorge Zorreguieta in the period 1976-1981. The report also gives information about the Dutch attitude towards the Argentinian regime in this period.

Summarized the conclusions are:
Zorreguieta's function as Undersecretary can be seen as politically very important, because it was a high leading function in the most important economical sector of the country. His direct boss was the Minister of Economic Affairs, José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz.
Zorreguieta has acted as a neoliberal technocrate who didn't want to know anything about political implications of his political functions. But for five years he was devoted actively in a high political function to a regime that was condemned at home and abroad for the elimination of democratical basic rights and the violation of human rights.
It is almost ruled out that Zorreguieta himself was personally involved in the period he was part in the government in the repression or the violation of human rights. However it is unconceivable that he didn't know anything about the practice of the repression and the situation of human rights.

Report of Mr. Max van der Stoel, Minister of State

On January 12th, 2001, by order of Prime Minister Wim Kok, Mr. Max van der Stoel, Minister of State, was asked to talk with Jorge Zorreguieta in connection with the preparations for a possible wedding between his daughter Máxima and Willem-Alexander Prince of Orange. Mr van der Stoel spoke with Jorge Zorreguieta on February 15th and 16th in New York,and again in São Paulo on March 10th, 2001. On February 15th also Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud was present.

During the meetings the report of Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud about the situation in Argentina in 1976-1983 and the role Jorge Zorreguieta played during those years, was discussed. Jorge Zorreguieta said he finds the description of the situation in the period 1976-1981 in the report excellent. About his own role in this period he wanted to explain somewhat better. There also has been spoken about the discussion in the Netherlands about the those period. Jorge Zorreguieta said to be well aware of that discussion. Extra attention has been laid at the possible negative influence from such a discussion about his past and the eventual presence at official events, to the future role and position of his daughter as a member of the Dutch Royal House.

Various facts

Willem-Alexander and Máxima met eachother in April 1999 in Sevilla, Spain, at the Feria (year market). During this week there are bull fights and horse races in Sevilla and in the evening people meet in the casetas (bars in tents). Máxima was taken to Sevilla by friends of her from New York. Willem-Alexander was also invited by friends and then they met. Three weeks later the Prince was in New York for a wedding of friends and had a date with Máxima.

The relation is known in the Netherlands since August 1999 when they were spotted together on the boat of the Royal Family in the Netherlands. Soon the press found out the name of the girl who was with Willem-Alexander.

Willem-Alexander asked Máxima to marry him on January 19th, 2001, at the pond of Palace Huis ten Bosch near The Hague. They went skating, which is a big hobby of Willem-Alexander, and it was her first time. She told she was very cold and just was looking forward to the traditional hot chocolate at the end. And then very unexpectedly he asked her to marry him. After the parents Prince Constantijn and his fiancee Laurentien Brinkhorst were the first to know. They said to have nothing against an engagement before their own wedding and wished them all the luck in the world.

Willem-Alexander designed the engagement ring of Máxima himself with the help of a jeweller.

The wedding will not take place until the beginning of 2002, most likely in January. This will give Máxima the chance to learn to know the Netherlands better before the marriage, because this period will be very important for the future. She will learn better Dutch, more about the history, form of government and constitution, and the society. Date and place of marriage are not known yet, but Willem-Alexander will be the first Dutch Crown Prince to marry in the Netherlands.

Máxima will move to Palace Huis ten Bosch as soon as possible. She will take her stuff from Brussels to The Hague after having finished what she has to finish in Brussels.

Willem-Alexander has admitted it was stupid of him to tell the press about a letter in the Argentinian newspaper La Nación recently during a visit to New York, not knowing that open source was written by Jorge Videla. Máxima fully agreed with him that it was a stupid thing to do.

Máxima's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, after several talks with the Dutch Minister of State, Max van der Stoel, decided not to attend the engagement or the wedding, to made it possible to his daughter to integrate in the Netherlands. Most likely also her mother will not attend the wedding, but Máxima said she hopes her brothers and sisters will. However Mr. Zorreguieta will later take part in more private family occasions.

Máxima is a catholic. Although Máxima herself doesn't know yet if she will ever become a protestant, it was said eventual children will be christened and raised in the Dutch reformed faith of Willem-Alexander.

Hundreds of people were gathered in front of Palace Noordeinde in The Hague to celebrate the engagement and to wait for the couple to show up after the press conferences.

Biopgraphy of Máxima Zorreguieta

Máxima Zorreguieta was born in a private clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 17th, 1971, as the oldest daughter of Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta (Buenos Aires 18.1.1928)1 and María del Carmen Cerruti (8.9.1944). She was named after one of her paternal great-grandmothers and was baptised in the Nuestra Señora del Socorro Church in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires, on June 3rd, 1971. She had already three sisters from the first marriage of her father with Martha Lopéz Gil: Maria (26.7.1956), Angeles (4.6.1958) and Dolores (20.6.1965). Máxima later got two brothers, Martin (28.10.1972) and Juan (4.10.1982), and a sister, Ines (4.12.1984).

Máxima grew up in a quite modest apartment in Uriburu Street, Barrio Norte. She went to the Colegio Mallinkroth in La Recoleta, a primary school led by German nuns, and until her exams in 1988 to the Northlands College, a private secondary school in the residential district Olivos in Buenos Aires. Lessons there were given in Spanish and English. In her exam year she led the volleyball team of her school. In 1989 Máxima started studying economics at the Universidad Catolica Argentina (UCA) in Buenos Aires. She was a good student and graduated in May 1996. During her study she worked in Buenos Aires: from 1989 to 1990 for Mercado Abierto S.A. where she researched software for the financial market, and from 1992 to 1995 for Boston Securities S.A. at the Sales Department. She also taught English to children and adults and mathematics to secondary school and first year students.

Máxima left for New York, USA, and worked from July 1996 to March 1998 for HSBC (=Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation) James Capel Inc. as Vice-President Latin American Institutional Sales. Until August 1999 she also worked for the German-British business bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson as Vice-President at the department Emerging Markets, specialised in Equities. First she lived in Soho and later in Chelsea. From August 1999 she worked for the Deutsche Bank as Vice- President Institutional Sales. In May 2000 she was transferred to Brussels, Belgium, where she worked at the EU Representative office of the Deutsche Bank.

Máxima is said to like music, skiing, dancing and shopping.

1 Changed on 18 January 2017. Many websites say he was born the 28th of January, I however don't know my source anymore. I did quite a bit of research online at the time, so possibly a website connected to his work had the wrong date. But old Argentinean sources say it is the 18th, a research mentioned by Hein Bruins, whom I value a lot, also says the 18th. And Dutch journalist Marius Looijmans of the Dutch TV-Programme "Shownieuws" says he congratulated Máxima with her father's birthday in 2016, and was told "that is a while ago". So the 18th seems to be clear.

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