Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is the spouse of King Willem-Alexander. On 30 April 2013, she became the first queen consort of the Netherlands since Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont and the first Latin American-born queen consort in the history of the Netherlands.
Early life and education
She was born Máxima Zorreguieta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 17 May 1971. Máxima is the daughter of Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta Stefanini, a farmer and a politician (died 2017). He was the under-secretary of Agriculture under Jorge R. Videla’s military dictatorship. She studied at Northlands School, in Argentina. She has two brothers, a sister and three half-sisters by her father’s first wife. She graduated with a degree in Economics from the Universidad Católica Argentina in 1995 before working for large international companies in Finance in Argentina, New York and Europe.
In June 2018, her sister Inés Zorreguieta committed suicide by hanging herself at her Buenos Aires apartment, aged 33.
She has been serving as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) since 2009.
Relationship with Willem-Alexander
Máxima met the crown prince in April 1999 in Sevilla, Spain, during the Seville Spring Fair. This is an important annual event, to which many people from other countries come and dress in typical Spanish Andalusian costume. In an interview, they stated that he introduced himself only as “Alexander,” so that she did not know he was a prince. She thought he was joking when he told her he was a Prince. They agreed to meet in New York, where Máxima was working for Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, two weeks later. Their relationship apparently began in New York, but the Princess did not meet the Prince’s parents, Queen Beatrix and Claus von Amsberg, for some time.
The news of the couple’s relationship and eventual marriage plans caused controversy in the Netherlands. Máxima’s father had been the Minister of Agriculture during the regime of former Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla, a military dictator who ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1981 and who was responsible for many atrocities against civilians (non-military people). An estimated 10,000–30,000 people disappeared during this and later military regimes. Democracy was restored to Argentina in 1983.
Jorge Zorreguieta claimed that, as a civilian, he did not know about the Dirty War while he was a cabinet minister. Professor Baud was asked by the Dutch Parliament to research in what way Jorge Zorreguieta was involved in the war. He concluded that it would have been unlikely for a person in such a powerful position in the government to not know about the Dirty War. But the research also found that Máxima’s father had not been directly involved with the many deaths in question.
The Dutch parliament permitted Máxima and Willem-Alexander to marry. This is necessary by law for the Prince of Orange to be able to become king. Because of the research around his involvement in the Dirty War, Máxima’s father offered not to attend the wedding. Out of solidarity with her husband, Máxima’s mother also did not come to the wedding on 2 February 2002 in Amsterdam.
Marriage and family
The couple announced their engagement on 30 March 2001; Máxima addressed the nation in Dutch (which at the time she only spoke to a basic conversational extent) during the live televised broadcast. Máxima was granted Dutch citizenship by a royal decree on 17 May 2001 and now has a dual citizenship: Argentine and Dutch. The engagement was formally approved by the States-General later that year—a necessary step for Willem-Alexander to remain in line to the throne.
Máxima and Willem-Alexander married on 2 February 2002 in a civil ceremony in the Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, which was then followed by a religious ceremony at Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk (“New Church”). The couple has three daughters: The Princess of Orange, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane.
Máxima’s parents were not present at the wedding; her father was told he could not attend due to his role as a cabinet minister during the National Reorganization Process, and her mother chose not to attend without her husband.
- Her Royal Highness Catharina-Amalia, the Crown Princess of the Netherlands born 7 December 2003
- Her Royal Highness Princess Alexia Juliana Marcela Laurentien born 26 June 2005
- Her Royal Highness Princess Ariane Wilhelmina Máxima Inés born 10 April 2007
The second names of all three of their daughters are also the names of the last 3 Dutch queens: Amalia’s for her grandmother, Queen Beatrix, Alexia’s for her great-grandmother, Queen Juliana and Ariane’s for her great-great-grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina.
Queen Máxima is also godmothered to two royal babies: Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau (daughter of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands) and Prince Sverre Magnus Norway (son of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway).
- Born: May 17, 1971
- Birth Place: Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Height: 1.78 m
- Full name: Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti
- Spouse: Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (m. 2002)
- Children: Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria, Princess Alexia of the Netherlands,
- Princess Ariane of the Netherlands
- Siblings: Inés Zorreguieta Cerruti, Dolores Zorreguieta López