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Máxima at 50: An interview at the palace

maxima matthijs

Queen Máxima received Matthijs van Nieuwkerk at her home at Huis ten Bosch Palace for an interview for her 50th birthday.

The interview took place in her office at the Palace and was broadcast on the evening of her birthday. The interviewer brought her a present of a book of poetry, and Queen Máxima indulged him by reading a piece in Spanish. She returned the favour by surprising him with a book of poetry from her own library.

Queen Máxima and Matthijs spoke about how she and King (then Prince) Willem-Alexander met in Seville in 1999. She had been taking photos of the guests at the party, and he had been annoyed, and thus, it had not been a good start. However, they soon fell in love. As the relationship grew, she began to learn Dutch while living in New York and trying to learn about the culture. She revealed that she wore a wig to stay under the radar as she travelled around the Netherlands, getting to know it better.

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There were emotional scenes, too, as they looked back at the difficult time surrounded her engagement and wedding when it became clear that her parents would not be attending due to her father’s role as a cabinet minister during the National Reorganization Process. Her mother chose not to attend without her husband. The famous tear that ran down her cheek during a musical intermission at the wedding was also replayed, and Queen Máxima revealed that her daughter once accusingly asked what Willem-Alexander had done to make her cry. The interview took a more serious turn as Queen Máxima, and Matthijs spoke about all the different jobs that she does, like her work with microfinancing and the United Nations. A short overview of her work showed her joking how she found words with “ui” difficult to pronounce when first learning Dutch.

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Returning to her family, she spoke openly about her sister Inés who committed suicide in 2018 after a long struggle with her mental health. She said that she did not feel guilty as she believed she and her family had done everything she could, but yet there remained that nagging feeling if there really was nothing more she could have done. Queen Máxima revealed that she and her sister used to sing a lot together and that she sang ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ at her sister’s funeral. “It was a good way to say goodbye to her”, Queen Máxima said. “It has taken a few years, but I now think of her with a big smile.”

Queen Máxima also revealed that she had enjoyed spending more time at home as a consequence of the pandemic and told Matthijs that she was perhaps travelling a bit too much before. She still continued her work online and valued the extra time spent with her daughters and husband.

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Matthijs also asked her about the most recent popularity numbers, which recently plummeted. The royals were forced to return from a vacation in Greece after a public outcry. She said, “It hurts in my heart because I work really hard to achieve things and to see it affected by a vacation that didn’t really mean that much. Yes, that hurts me.” The purchase of a two-million euro speedboat was also discussed.

Queen Máxima also talked about how proud she was of her three daughters. Of her eldest daughter, Princess Amalia, she said, “I don’t see her as the future Queen; I still see her as my little baby. She is doing really well; she is very responsible. She realises what her future will be but handles it really well. She takes her time, and she is a wonderful human being.”

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The interview concluded with the question about what her husband means to her, to which she answered, “He is my anchor. He keeps me sharp, and he pushes me to do my job while holding me tight. That combination is fantastic.”

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