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Princess Christina of the Netherlands celebrates 70th birthday

Today marks the 70th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Christina of the Netherlands. She is the youngest sister of the former Queen (now Princess) Beatrix of the Netherlands, which makes her the maternal aunt of King Willem-Alexander.

She was born on 18 February 1947 at Soestdijk Palace in Baarn. Her parents were former Queen (then Princess) Juliana and Prince Bernhard. She was christened on 9 October of the same year with Queen Wilhelmina, her maternal grandmother; Princess Beatrix, her eldest sister; Winston Churchill; Princess Armgard, her paternal grandmother; Prince Félix of Luxembourg, the consort of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg; and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, later Queen Anne of Romania.

Princess Christina (right) at Schiphol, Noord-Holland with the Royal Family in 1959. Photo: Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo (CC BY-SA 3.0 nl) via Wikimedia Commons

Because her mother suffered from the German measles during her pregnancy with Christina, the Princess was born almost blind. Due to the advancement of medicine over the years, she was able to undergo treatments and wear special glasses so that her vision was improved.

Her Royal Highness moved to Canada at age 21 to pursue music where she studied classical music in Montreal. She then moved to New York City where she began teaching at a Montessori school. While in New York, she met and started dating a Cuban exile named Jorge Pérez y Guillermo.

On 28 June 1975, Christina married Jorge in Baarn in a civil ceremony and then religiously at the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht. Christina renounced her and her future children’s rights to succeed the throne before the announcement of the engagement on Valentine’s Day 1975. Attitudes were changing in the Netherlands toward Catholicism, but after the issues that arose when her elder sister Princess Irene married a Catholic in the early 1960s. Princess Irene secretly converted to Roman Catholicism in 1963, and Christina would go on to convert to the religion in 1992.

Christina and Jorge during their civil wedding. Photo: Anefo / Croes, R.C. from the Dutch National Archives (CC BY-SA 3.0 nl) via Wikimedia Commons

They would go on to have three children together: Bernardo (b. 1977), Nicolás (b. 1979), and Juliana (b. 1981). They have two grandchildren through Bernardo: Isabel (b. 2009) and Julián (b. 2011).

Sadly, the union was not to last. The couple divorced in 1996, and the Princess moved to the United States with her children. After the death of her mother, she has lived in London and Italy.

Her Royal Highness has released several CDs, performed at a tribute concert for Queen Juliana in Italy and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Princess Christina Competition Foundation. She holds numerous national honours and two foreign honours. She is a member of the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown of Luxembourg and Member Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Divine Powers of Nepal.

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