Queen Máxima of the Netherlands has received the Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange from her husband King Willem-Alexander for her 50th birthday.
The honour is granted for services to the Royal House at the discretion of the monarch and is not subject to ministerial responsibility. It was instituted in 1905 by Queen Wilhelmina as she no longer had the use of the Order of the Oak Crown of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg used by her predecessors to reward Dutch subjects. Queen Wilhelmina had been unable to succeed her father as Luxembourg’s ruler.
The order used to consist of 18 different classes and medals. The insignia vary amongst these classes, but they all shared the same orange ribbon, symbolising the House of Orange. Since 1969, the House order consists of three grades; the Grand Cross, the Grand Honorary Cross and the Honorary Cross. Queen Máxima has been granted the highest grade of Grand Cross.
Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti was born on 17 May 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta (a government official and advisor) and María del Carmen Cerruti de Zorreguieta. Her Majesty has two brothers, one sister and three paternal half-sisters. Sadly, her sister, Inés Zorreguieta Cerruti, died by suicide in June 2018. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother Máxima Bonorino González.
Máxima met a Dutchman named Alexander (then Willem-Alexander, The Prince of Orange), in April 1999 at the Seville Spring Fair in Seville, Spain. An interview later revealed that The Prince of Orange only introduced himself as Alexander and didn’t reveal his true identity at their initial meeting. Máxima later admitted she soon completely forgot who he was. Máxima and Willem-Alexander were married on 2 February 2002 in a civil ceremony at the Beurs van Berlage, and the religious ceremony followed directly after at the Nieuwe Kerk, with thousands lining the streets to celebrate the couple.
The couple has three daughters: Catharina-Amalia “Amalia” (born 7 December 2003), Alexia (born 26 June 2005), and Ariane (born 10 April 2007).