Number 2 in line for the Dutch throne resigns

I’m going to get a reputation for never putting up very serious stuff on this blog if I keep posting this sort of thing, but here goes.

So, I’m watching the coverage on Nederland 1 of today’s announcement from Prince Johan. It seems that, like his older brother, the number two prince of the Netherlands also has a penchant for falling for the wrong woman. Mabel Wisse Smit – a career UN human rights worker – may or may not have had a relationship with murdered gangster and suspected drug smuggler Klaas Bruinsma sometime in the distant past.

The debate on TV seems oddly familiar to me as a citizen of a nominal monarchy myself – depoliticise the monarchy, modernise, etc. What, I suppose most of you are asking, is the deal? Is something rotten in the state of Holland? The government was, apparently, uncertain if it wanted to approve the marriage, which it has the constitutional power to do. So, Johan has followed in the footsteps of Edward VIII by abdicating his claim to the throne for the woman he loves.

What is it with these Dutch royals? Queen Beatrix caused riots back in the 60’s by marrying a German. Number one prince Willem-Alexander was embroiled in controversy when he married Maxima Zorreguieta, an Argentinean ex-model whose father was a minister in the dictatorship during the 70’s. She couldn’t even invite her father to the wedding. Despite all the trouble at the time, now it seems like everyone loves Princess Maxima – who had the good sense to go away for a few months and learn to speak Dutch before doing a media blitz.

Now, is it just me, or does all this fuss strike anyone else as inane? Why, in nations with the common sense to let people marry who they please, do they impose unique and bizarre restrictions on their royal families? The British royals, of course, get a lot more global press than Europe’s other monarchs, but as far as I can tell, the whole lot seem just as silly.

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About Scott Martens

Scott is a US-raised Canadian living in Brussels with his American wife. His political background is well to the left of centre, even for Europe, and is very interested in immigration, cultural integration and language policy issues. He is presently working against a deadline on his doctorate in computational linguistics and is on hiatus. Wrote Pedantry, also on hiatus.

12 thoughts on “Number 2 in line for the Dutch throne resigns

  1. “the common sense to let people marry who they please”

    Makes me wonder what Queen B would do if her son wanted to marry a man. (insert gratuitous “queen” joke here)

  2. I might be wrong but I thought Friso and Mabel Wisse Smit could marry whenever they want to, but Friso just would have to give up ever being king if the parliament or government don’t approve.

    Now, wether having a monarchy in NL is good or not seems to me seperate discussion, but if you agree we should have a monarchy here in NL I can imagine why they won’t allow someone that may have slept with a known gangster to be queen of the Netherlands(something which could happen, were Friso’s older brother, and his upcoming child, to die or if they would refuse to become monarchs). If you want to have a monarchy here, it’s probably because it creates a feeling of connectedness with the other people in the country. I think having someone like that be queen won’t exactly work for that.

  3. Given the circumstances, I think that Friso was right to give up his claims to the throne. He seems determined to marry this woman, who I believe is being dishonest when she claims not to have had sexual relations with Brunsma, and better he be out of the equation altogether than that he try to follow in the footsteps of Prince Charles, who seems to imagine he will eventually succeed in forcing Camilla Parker-Bowles down the throat of the British public.

    The only question in my mind is whether Friso’s bride-to-be will be quite as happy with his self-sacrifice in the long run. She seems the sort of person who has an affinity for power and the limelight*, and the prospect of someday being queen, however remote, might well have played a significant role in her attraction to the young prince. How long will she stick it out with him if she doesn’t get invited into the ranks of European high society as a fully paid up member?

    *There’s a more impolite word for what I’m getting at – Star****er …

  4. “will be quite as happy with his self-sacrifice”

    This is assuming that not being a monarch is a sacrifice, isn’t it Abiola? It depends on your point of view I suppose, but I never found not being a Windsor too hard to accept.

  5. “It depends on your point of view I suppose, but I never found not being a Windsor too hard to accept.”

    Yes, but you’re speaking from the perspective of one who sees the duties rather than the rewards. There are many, many people in this world who fantasize about living the life of royalty – it’s no accident that St. Andrews University received so many applications from young American women once it was announced that Prince William would be attending that institution.

    There is no shortage of women in this world who would kill to live out their Prince Charming fantasies, which is why I wonder whether Miss Mabel Wisse Smit, who has, at the very least, been shown to have been free with the truth AND to have had shady associates, will be quite as happy with her “prize” if it is shorn of a right to the Dutch succession.

    NB – What’s the policy here with regards to HTML tags? It would be nice to be able to emphasize things without resorting to all-caps, which seems too much like shouting to me.

  6. “, the whole lot seem just as silly.”
    IMO the monarchy itself is silly.
    But not just silly. Disgusting and frightening as well.
    The whole idea is at odds with the spirit of the constitution; with all modern constitutions I assume.
    To me it is disgusting because of the irrationality of the system: an arrogance reminding me of the mob is normal in the surroundings of this persons. Mrs. Orange announced the engagement of her son with the words “..she already conquered her place in our family…”. Not “acquired” or something like that; no “conquered”. In the presence not only of the media but of the mother of the bride-to-be as well.
    What is frightening me is the mixture of hypocrisy, irrationality and -most importantly- OPPORTUNISM that is displayed by many politicians when the monarchy is involved. Not while now we are stuck with the anachronism of the monarchy too long, -in the country that became a republic first in Europe turning it into a source of inspiration for other Europeans on economic, political and cultural issues- , but because of the effect on politics itself.
    Because of the popularity of the monarchy none of our spineless politicians dare to put straightforward critics. Combined with the infantile attention of the media all works out into a sinister circuit. Attacks are flung back to everyone who speaks out. The same mechanism that is used by Berlusconi and the likes of him. Even now, on the occasion of the resignation of Friso’s claim, the press stresses how Mrs. Orange must suffer from the whole situation.
    This encouragement of opportunism I recognize outside the formal monarchy as well.
    Look what happens in California with movie star Schwarzenegger. I don’t pass judgment on the abilities of Arnold himself but I do see that the Republicans swallow their opinions on items important to them to go with the AS-hype and some Democrats do the same.
    Another illustration of this cowardice in Dutch politics was shown by the Fortuynists. Fortuyn acted as a movie-star. Therefore he had no trouble to state his republican preferences. Just weeks after his violent death his faint-hearted adherents came out as supporters of the monarchy.

  7. For me the odd thing was a UN employee with a gangster boyfriend. Is the American right wing right about UN corruption?

    I think that Abiola’s fears about the lady’s reaction are on target.

    Though frankly, “Queen of the Netherlands” doesn’t sound all that sexy. Especially (with all due respect) given the various meanings of “nether”.

  8. I suppose she was still a student then, since it was before 1992. And that her work with the UN is caused by her liaison with the Dutch royals. It is of bad taste to work directly in for-profit organisations in such cases.

    DSW

  9. Zizka: I could tell you a number of anecdotes I’ve heard over the years here in New York about the corruption within the UN, starting with the parking tickets, through to willful harassment of American workers with civil lawsuits (UN diplomats may sue Americans in American civil court, yet Americans cannot countersue UN diplomats, – ever); to cocaine trafficking via diplomatic pouches; to sexual harassment; to shoplifting; and finally to murder.

    But that’s not surprising, considering the majority of the UN’s member states are corrupt, non-democratic states used to cronyism.

  10. Zizka: I’ve tried to google the article for you, but to no avail. It was a number of years ago…

    It was an item in the New York Times: if I recall correctly, it was about a murder of a woman who was an employee of the UN, and a mistress to some Arab diplomat. The NYPD was repeatedly blocked in its investigation by invocations of diplomatic immunity. Finally, the main suspects just left the country….

  11. Frans: I tend to agree with your views on royalty. But I wouldn’t eliminate the institution. Try as we might in reasoning through it all, royalty means a hell of a lot for elderly ladies and the like, who seem to find it worthwhile.

    And it’s too easy to explain it all away as some sort of marketing ploy. There seems to be some kind of primal connection and need of some significance. I wouldn’t take that away from them….

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