Twenty years ago today, the eyes of the world were on Amsterdam. The Prince of Orange, heir to the throne of the Netherlands, was preparing to marry his Argentine fiancée, Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, in a lavish three-day celebration. We’re looking back at all three days of glittering events this week, beginning with a sparkling royal dinner at the Royal Palace on January 31.
Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima had been engaged for almost a year. They officially announced their engagement on March 30, 2001, in a televised press conference with his parents, Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands. Willem-Alexander and Máxima had been dating since 1999, after meeting at the Spring Fair in Seville, Spain. She thought he was joking when he first told her that he was a prince, and that he’d one day be King of the Netherlands.
The couple made their public debut together in September 1999. Though his parents were supportive from the start, others had major concerns about potential political and diplomatic repercussions from Máxima’s father’s past role as a cabinet minister during Argentina’s dictatorial government. (We discussed that at length here.) Ultimately, the relationship gained approval once Máxima agreed to distance herself from her father.
Willem-Alexander proposed on January 19, 2001, in the gardens of Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. He presented his future bride with an engagement ring set with an unusual orange diamond. (The stone, of course, is a play on the name of the Dutch royal house, the House of Orange. The house’s name is really a geographic reference, but naturally the family has also embraced the same-named color.) You can read much more about the engagement ring here.
Preparations for the upcoming royal wedding took several months. By January 2002, the Netherlands was ready to kick off the celebrations. On January 31, 2002, a black-tie dinner was held at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam (pictured above on January 30, 2002). The dinner was both a pre-wedding event and a celebration of Queen Beatrix’s 64th birthday.
Because the event was held at the Royal Palace, we don’t have many pictures of the Dutch royals at the dinner. They were already inside the palace, so they weren’t photographed arriving for or leaving from the event. But we do have this image of Willem-Alexander and Máxima, looking very happy indeed, dancing after the dinner. In the photo, Máxima wears an off-the-shoulder gown of orange lace (another reference to the House of Orange, of course), with a favorite pair of diamond floral earrings and the smaller of the Dutch East Indies Bracelets.
Here’s a clearer view of the diamond floral earrings, from a royal engagement in May 2013.
We got a better look at the dress a few months later, when Máxima wore it (with the Dutch Star Tiara and the Diamond Trellis Necklace) for the wedding of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.
But for the Dutch royals at the pre-wedding dinner on January 31, that one image of Willem-Alexander and Máxima is pretty much the only one available to me. We do have one more image of two members of the extended family. Here, Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau arrives for the dinner with his wife, Princess Marilène. Maurits is Willem-Alexander’s first cousin (the eldest son of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven.) Marilène wore pearls and diamonds with a black-and-white ensemble for the dinner.
Royals from across Europe and around the world were in Amsterdam for the wedding celebrations. From neighboring Belgium, King Albert II and Queen Paola attended the dinner. Paola wore a midnight blue gown with her diamond and pearl half-moon earrings and one of her diamond necklaces.
The Duke and Duchess of Brabant were present for the celebrations as well. They had recently welcomed their first child, Princess Elisabeth, and in some pictures from the wedding festivities, Philippe is wearing his daughter in a baby carrier. For this dinner, Philippe and Mathilde had a parents’ night out. Mathilde wore her wedding earrings and the necklace setting of the Brabant Laurel Wreath Tiara for the event.
From nearby Luxembourg, several members of the grand ducal family were also in attendance, including Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte. She wore pearls and a diamond circle brooch for the dinner. Grand Duke Jean had abdicated a little more than a year earlier, in October 2000.
The reigning grand duke and grand duchess, Henri and Maria Teresa, were at the dinner as well. She wore emeralds and diamonds from the family collection, including one of the family’s diamond rose brooches pinned at her waist.
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden attended the festivities with their children, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine. Silvia wore a bright blue gown with a black floral overlay for the dinner, plus lots of diamonds, including the family’s diamond floral earrings and a pair of diamond rivières.
Crown Princess Victoria wore a strapless black gown embellished with silver crystals, plus a matching wrap. She also wore diamonds for the event.
Here’s another view of Victoria’s ensemble and jewels, as well as those worn by her sister, Princess Madeleine.
And here’s one more view of Madeleine’s outfit for the dinner. She pinned one of the family’s diamond and pearl brooches to a fabric choker and wore a pearl bracelet on her right wrist.
Queen Sonja of Norway sparkled for the dinner in a pink and white gown with an heirloom pair of diamond earrings from the collection of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who had married Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in August 2001, wore a ruffled brown gown with a floral shoulder embellishment from the dinner. She accessorized with small diamond stud earrings and a pearl bracelet.
Her sister-in-law, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, wore a pink and brown ensemble for the event with her parure of moonstone jewels. She attended with her fiancé, Ari Behn.
Queen Sofia of Spain wore an interesting gown of iridescent brown and purple-pink fabric scattered with crystals. She wore diamonds with the outfit, including a diamond necklace and her diamond frame earrings.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (who you can also spot on the right side of the photo of Queen Sofia) wore blue for the dinner, accessorizing with Queen Alexandrine’s Sapphires.
Princess Benedikte of Denmark attended the dinner with her husband, Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. She wore the diamond fan earrings she inherited from her mother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who had died in November 2000. She also wore the diamond necklace that comes from Queen Alexandrine’s Sautoir, and she pinned several of her diamond stars to her pink gown as well.
Richard and Benedikte’s elder daughter, Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, attended the dinner with her first husband, Count Jefferson von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth. She wore diamond and pearl earrings and a diamond and seed pearl choker necklace.
The third in the trio of Danish royal sisters, Queen Anne-Marie, attended with her husband, Constantine, the former King of Greece. She wore an interesting demi-parure of pearl tassel jewels for the dinner, pairing it with a gown in pastel shades of pink and green. She’s also wearing a small seed pearl clip brooch that belonged to Queen Louise of Sweden.
Marie-Chantal, Constantine and Anne-Marie’s daughter-in-law, attended with her husband, Crown Prince Pavlos. She wore diamond earrings with a festive ruffled gown.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex represented the British royal family at the Dutch royal wedding. (The Prince of Wales also joined them for other events during the wedding celebrations.) For the pre-wedding dinner, Sophie wore a dramatic midnight blue sequined gown with a one-shoulder neckline. She wore diamond earrings with the dress for the occasion.
Here’s one more look at Sophie’s jewels. I think I also spot a sapphire ring on her right hand.