- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2002

AMSTERDAM The crown prince of the Netherlands married a party-loving Argentine investment banker yesterday in twin ceremonies that combined Dutch simplicity with regal splendor. Thunderous cheers from thousands of spectators signaled the blessing of his people.
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, 34, in formal naval uniform, and bride Maxima Zorreguieta, 30, in a white gown with a 15-foot train, exchanged civil vows before the mayor of Amsterdam in an unpretentious, former trading exchange building.
Two hours later, they knelt before a Dutch Reformed minister and a Roman Catholic priest in a cavernous 600-year-old church to consecrate the union.
At both ceremonies, Miss Zorreguieta dabbed away tears after saying "Ja," to accept the heir to the Dutch throne as her husband.
The prince's two-year romance and 11-month engagement to Maxima as everyone knows her has enthralled this sober trading nation of 16 million people and given renewed luster to the royal family, often perceived as distant, stodgy and unglamorous.
An estimated 80,000 people, many waving flags and wearing the color of the ruling family the 450-year-old House of Orange lined the 2-mile-long procession route to watch the newlyweds roll past in a century-old gilded carriage drawn by six horses.
Returning to the royal palace, the couple stepped onto a balcony for their first public kiss, winning a roar of approval from the throng below. Rockets released a shower of golden confetti and streamers into a rare clear blue winter sky.
The guest list included scores of kings, queens, dukes and counts but not the bride's parents. The Dutch government asked Maxima's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, not to attend because he had served in the government of Argentine dictator Jorge Videla. He watched the ceremony on television in London.
Prince Charles represented the British crown. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former South African President Nelson Mandela also were there.
In what has become a Dutch tradition at any royal celebration, demonstrators gathered at a designated square along the procession route to jeer, clang pots and pans and urge the replacement of the constitutional monarchy with a republic. Police put the number of protesters at fewer than 1,000.
One man threw a pot of white paint at the coach, splashing it on a window that was quickly wiped clean by a gloved hand. Maxima continued to wave, but her perpetual smile dimmed for a moment. The assailant was arrested.
Among the demonstrators were Argentine exiles who recalled the abuses during the seven-year dictatorship of Mr. Videla, in which Mr. Zorreguieta served as agriculture minister for two years.
The Buenos Aires-born Maxima was working at a New York financial house when she met the prince in 1999 at a party in Spain.
With her enthusiasm for fun, her vivaciousness and common sense, Maxima overcame public hesitations over her father's background. Her popularity has prompted comparisons to the late Princess Diana.
Officiating at the simple civil ceremony, Mayor Job Cohen warned the new princess that she will be "living in a glass house."


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