European RoyalsThe Netherlands

The many losses of Princess Beatrix

princess beatrix
© RVD - Jeroen van der Meyde

Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands – or Queen Beatrix as she was known between 1980 and 2013 – has suffered yet another loss when her youngest sister Princess Christina died yesterday. Since 2002, she has had to say goodbye to her husband Prince Claus, her parents Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, her son Prince Friso and now her sister.

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Princess Beatrix first met Claus von Amsberg on New Year’s Eve 1962 in Bad Driburg at a dinner hosted by the Count von Oeynhausen-Sierstorpff. Their engagement was announced in 1965, despite strong anti-German feelings among the Dutch population because of the Second World War. Nevertheless, he ended up becoming one of the most popular members of the Dutch Royal Family – winning hearts with his easy-going attitude. Prince Claus died on 6 October 2002 from Parkinson’s disease and heart failure at the age of 76.

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Princess Beatrix’s parents, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard first met at the 1936 Winter Olympics, and Princess Juliana fell deeply in love – even seeing past Prince Bernhard’s extramarital affairs, which produced several illegitimate children – and the pair were married on 7 January 1937. They went on to have four children together: Beatrix (1938), Irene (1939), Margriet (1943) and Christina (1947). Princess Juliana became Queen Juliana when her mother, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948, and she would reign until her own abdication in 1980. From the mid-1990s, Juliana’s health deteriorated and she suffered from dementia. In 2001, she was no longer able to recognise her family. Princess Juliana died in her sleep on 20 March 2004 at the age of 94. But more tragedy was to come in 2004. Prince Bernhard himself was not well at all, and he died of cancer on 1 December 2004.

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After a decade of quiet, the unthinkable happened during the family’s annual winter trip to Lech in Austria. Beatrix’s second son, Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche for 25 minutes, followed by 50 minutes of resuscitation. It was unclear if he would ever regain consciousness. On 9 July 2013, Prince Friso was moved back to Huis ten Bosch where he died a month later, following complications. He had a private funeral and was buried at Lage Vuursche, not far from where Princess Beatrix lives.

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And now comes the death of her youngest sister Princess Christina. One can only imagine what Beatrix – and her family – are going through right now.