Sunday, December 11, 2011

Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange

Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange (Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand; born 27 April 1967) is the eldest child of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. Since 1980 he is the heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He is also the head of the House of Amsberg since the death of his father in 2002. He was in military service and he studied history at Leiden University. Prince Willem-Alexander is currently interested in international water management issues and sports. He married Princess Máxima in 2002. They have three daughters Princess Catharina-Amalia (born 2003), Princess Alexia (born 2005), and Princess Ariane (born 2007).

Early life
Prince Willem-Alexander was born on 27 April 1967 in the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is the first child of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prince Claus of the Netherlands, and the first grandchild of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. From birth Willem-Alexander has the titles Prince of the Netherlands (Dutch: Prins der Nederlanden), Prince of Orange-Nassau (Dutch: Prins van Oranje-Nassau), and Jonkheer of Amsberg (Dutch: Jonkheer van Amsberg). He was baptised as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church on 2 September 1967 in Saint Jacob's Church in The Hague. His godparents are Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck, Prime Minister Jelle Zijlstra, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

He has two younger brothers: Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, born in 1968, and Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, born in 1969. He lived with his family at the castle Drakesteijn in the hamlet Lage Vuursche near Baarn from his birth until 1981, when they moved to the larger palace Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. His mother Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands in 1980, after his grandmother Juliana abdicated. He then received the hereditary title Prince of Orange, as heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of the autonomous countries the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

Education and military training
Prince Willem-Alexander attended Nieuwe Baarnse Elementary School in Baarn from 1973 to 1979. He went to three different high schools: the Baarns Lyceum in Baarn from 1979 to 1981, the Eerste Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum in The Hague from 1981 to 1983, and the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales near Llantwit Major (1983 to 1985), where the prince had friends, and from where he received his International Baccalaureate.

After high school he performed military service in the Royal Netherlands Navy from August 1985 to January 1987. He received his training at the Royal Netherlands Naval College and the frigates HNLMS Tromp and HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, where he was an ensign. In 1988, he received additional training at the ship HNLMS Van Kinsbergen and became a lieutenant (junior grade).

From 1987, Prince Willem-Alexander studied history at Leiden University and received his academic degree in 1993. His final dissertation was on the Dutch response to France's decision under President Charles de Gaulle to leave NATO's integrated command structure. During this period he received the nickname "prins pils" (eng: prince pilsner)

Work and royal duties
Prince Willem-Alexander is interested in water management issues. He is an honorary member of the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century and patron of the Global Water Partnership, a body established by the World Bank, the UN, and the Swedish Ministry of Development. He was appointed as the Chairperson of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation on 12 December 2006.

The prince is a member of the Raad van State, the highest council to the Dutch government that is chaired by his mother, Queen Beatrix. As part of his royal duties, he holds commissions in the Dutch Army (as brigadier), Navy (as commandeur) and Air Force (as commodore).

He was a patron of the Dutch Olympic Games Committee until 1998 when he was made a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, he has expressed support to bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Leisure activities
He is an aircraft pilot and sportsman. In 1989, the Prince flew as a volunteer for the African Medical Research and Education Foundation (AMREF) in Kenya, and in 1991 he spent a month flying for the Kenya Wildlife Service. To make sure he flies enough hours a year to retain his license, he also regularly flies the Dutch royal airplane when he and his family travel abroad.

Using the name "W.A. van Buren", one of the less well-known surnames of the House of Orange-Nassau, he has participated in the New York City Marathon, where his aunt, Princess Christina, and several cousins live. In the Netherlands, he was a participant in the Frisian Eleven Cities ice skating marathon.

The Prince was seen cheering on the Netherlands' national football team during their hosting year, at Euro 2000, always wearing an orange vest. He memorably gave a nervous laugh of disbelief as the Netherlands missed their second penalty of normal time against the Italians in the semi-final.

Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife travelled to South Africa to support the national team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and were shown on worldwide television wearing orange-themed clothing.

On 2 February 2002, he married Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (born 17 May 1971) at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Máxima is an Argentine woman of Spanish and Italian ancestry who prior to their marriage worked as an investment banker in New York City. The marriage triggered significant controversy due to the bride's father's prior role in the Argentinian military dictatorship.

The prince is a direct descendant of Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, eldest daughter of British King George II. However, under the British Act of Settlement, Prince Willem-Alexander forfeited his (distant) succession rights to the throne of the United Kingdom, because he married a Roman Catholic.

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