Dutch Prince Friso dies after 2012 avalanche

Updated: 2013-08-13 13:38


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Dutch Prince Friso dies after 2012 avalanche

Dutch Prince Johan Friso, son of Queen Beatrix, and Mabel Wisse Smit pose for the photographers on the balcony of the Noordeinde Palace at their wedding in The Hague, in this April 24, 2004 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Other spouses of Dutch royalty have endured controversy. Beatrix's own marriage was initially unpopular because of her husband's German nationality. King Willem-Alexander's Argentine wife, Queen Maxima, has been criticized over her father's ties to the former totalitarian regime.

Friso and Mabel decided to marry without seeking parliamentary approval. The decision meant Friso would be cut from the royal house and line of succession. They were still considered members of the royal family, and bore the honorific titles of Prince and Princess of Oranje-Nassau.

After the affair - dubbed "Mablegate" in the Dutch press, because the "cover-up" did most of the damage - Friso seemed relieved at the certainty he would never be called upon to assume the throne.

"I am planning to remain available for my mother or brother if it's needed, for supporting roles," he said in a televised statement.

After his studies, Friso worked in consulting and later became a vice-president at Goldman Sachs in London. At the time of the accident he was working as CFO of uranium enrichment company Urenco.

Although Friso did not have an image as a risk-taker, the skiing accident - off piste despite avalanche warnings - did not stand totally alone. He was also once stopped while driving 200 kilometers per hour (120 mph).

One of Friso's most sympathetic moments in the public eye came shortly after the death of his father, Prince Claus: it fell to Friso to escort his mother at the funeral ceremony. He supported her in a long, stately walk to her seat as she leaned heavily on his arm, deep in grief.

In a lighter vein, the prince was considered very handsome as a young man, but he was not known to have had any girlfriends. The Dutch gay community became convinced he was homosexual. Friso turned a blind eye in amusement as Friso-themed parties became a nightlife fixture.

But after mainstream publications began speculating as to whether he might come out of the closet, he had the Royal Information Service put out a one-line statement in 2001: "Johan Friso is not homosexual, but heterosexual."

The move was mocked by some and others remained unconvinced. Friso's relationship with Wisse Smit was announced the following year.