Prince Johan Friso of The Netherlands (1968 to 2013)

Prince Johan Friso of The Netherlands was the second son of Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and the younger brother of King Willem-Alexander. He died on August 12, 2013, at the royal residence Huis Ten Bosch in The Hague at the age of 44. The family funeral was held on August 17, 2013, in Lage Vuursche near the residence of Princess Beatrix. There will be no state funeral.

HRH Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands



Prince Friso, as he was commonly known, sustained serious brain damage in a skiing accident on February 17, 2012. He had been skiing off the marked piste in the fashionable skiing resort of Lech in Austria, when he and his guide were caught in an avalanche. While his guide was able to free himself and raise the alarm, the prince was buried in heavy snow for over 20 minutes. The lack of oxygen during such a long time led to the severe brain damage and left the prince in a coma. After being initially treated at Innsbruck, he was then transferred to the Wellington Hospital in London.

As he lay in a coma, his wife Princess Mabel (nee Wisse Smit) kept vigil by his bedside at the private clinic in St John’s Wood not far from their home at Kew. In July 2013, Prince Friso released from hospital and taken to the royal residence Huis Ten Bosch in The Hague. He died of complications relating to his injuries on August 12, 2013. It has not been made public if life support had been disconnected either prior to the transport from London or later at the palace.
 

Prince Friso had relinquished his place in the succession to the Dutch throne to marry Mabel Wisse Smit. Princess Mabel was a human-rights activist when they met in Brussels. They were introduced by Princess Laurentien, wife of the Prince Friso’s younger brother, Prince Constantijn. Prince Friso made his marriage proposal by appearing at Mabel’s door dressed in a white Mexican suit and carrying champagne and roses. 

The prince had always denied that he minded giving up his place in line to the Dutch throne to marry Mabel. He came second after his older brother King Willem Alexander. The decision followed the refusal of then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende to seek Parliament’s permission for the marriage. The permission is necessary under the Dutch constitution for those in line of succession. The couple, Mr Balkenende said in 2004, had given less than full information about Mabel’s relationship as a young woman just out of university with criminal Klaas Bruinsma.

Mabel had admitted only to a slight acquaintance with Klaas Bruinsma who was murdered in 1991. Later, one of Klaas Bruinsma’s former bodyguards and co-criminals suggested on television that the friendship had been intimate, something Mabel has always denied. Prince Friso wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister: “We should have said immediately that it has been more than a superficial relationship.” Mabel said in a television interview that she had a few months of friendly contact with Klaas Bruinsma and thereafter only met him at sailing events.


The couple married in April 2004. They had won considerable affection after early harsh questioning about Mabel’s past and – before their relationship was known – innuendo about the prince’s sexuality. Since his injury, sympathy had burgeoned for his anguished wife, whose own father died in a skating accident when she was nine. The couple had two children, Countess Luana and Countess Zaria of Oranje-Nassau.

Prince Johan Friso,was born on September 25, 1968 as the second son of Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and her German-born husband Prince Claus von Amsberg. The prince was educated at the VCL (Liberal Christian Lyceum) school in The Hague, and at the University of California. He gained a degree in aeronautical engineering from Delft University of Technology, an MSc in economics from Erasmus University, Rotterdam and an MBA from INSEAD, the business school at Fontainebleau in France. He had worked for the management consulting company McKinsey in Amsterdam, and as a vice-president in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs in London, before taking over as CFO of the uranium enrichment company Urenco in April 2011.

The couple, who married in April 2004, had won considerable affection after early harsh questioning about Mabel’s past and – before their relationship was known – innuendo about the prince’s sexuality. Since his injury, sympathy had burgeoned for his anguished wife, whose own father died in a skating accident when she was nine.


Further reading
Prime Minister for Dinner Anyone?
The Elect Circle of Elected Monarchs in Europe
Princes: Not All That Glitters