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The message in a royal engagement ring – Queen Máxima of the Netherlands


Queen Máxima’s engagement ring might be one of the most visually unique royal rings in existence: at its centre is an orange diamond to reflect the royal house she married into.

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When the Argentinean business executive met a Dutch man named ‘Alexander’ at a party in 1999, she had no clue that he would soon reveal himself to be Prince Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange and the direct heir to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

But the couple were smitten with each other and continued their relationship until their engagement was announced on 30 March 2001. And, like most royal brides of the modern era, there was controversy surrounding her.

Máxima Zorreguieta’s father, Jorge, had once served as the Secretary of Agriculture for General Jorge Rafael Videla—the military dictator of Argentina during its junta—from 1979 to 1981. Though he argued that he’d been unaware of Videla’s crimes while in office, a Dutch inquiry found that even though he’d been uninvolved, it was highly unlikely that he was oblivious to what had happened in Argentina at the time.

Though the Dutch government had been reluctant to give their consent to Willem-Alexander and Máxima, they ultimately relented and advised that Máxima would have to distance herself from her father. He did not attend the wedding, and Máxima’s mother did not either, out of solidarity.

In an interview much later, Willem-Alexander revealed that he proposed to Máxima on ice. This could be seen as another Dutch symbol, as speedskating is one of the most popular sports in the Netherlands. He said that he proposed to Máxima in English “to make sure she would understand it” and that Máxima immediately said yes. They recreated the moment on their social media accounts in 2021.

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The future Dutch queen surprised everyone by speaking Dutch during her engagement interview and flaunted her orange diamond engagement ring proudly.

The Dutch jewellery firm Steltman designed Máxima’s ring. It’s an orange oval-cut diamond flanked by white emerald-cut diamonds and surrounded by smaller pavé-set diamonds on a white gold band.

The orange diamond represents the colour of the Dutch Royal Family. As the House of Orange-Nassau, the family originated its use, and over the years, orange has become a national colour and one that symbolises pride and unity. It is also used to represent sports teams in competition and signifies support for the country.

Queen Máxima alternates which hand she wears her engagement ring on: sometimes she’s photographed with it on her right hand—which is a Dutch Protestant tradition, the religion Willem-Alexander practices; Dutch Catholics, which Máxima is, wear theirs on the left hand.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.