TSXM -THE HAGUE – Prince Friso passed away at the age of 44 at Paleis Huis ten Bosch in The Hague, the government information service RVD announced yesterday afternoon around 3 p.m. The second son of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus died from “complications that occurred due to the brain damage that was caused by an oxygen deficit during his skiing-accident on February 17, 2012 in Lech, Austria.”
No information was immediately available about funeral arrangements. Princess Mabel celebrated her 45th birthday at her husband’s bedside the day before his passing. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima return from their vacation in Greece. Prime Minister Mark Rutte also cuts his vacation short. Friso’s death is “of an intense sadness,” Rutte said in a first reaction. Other politicians also reacted with sadness to the news.
Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche on February 17 of last year during the royal family’s annual skiing vacation. In spite of warnings about possible avalanches Friso went skiing that day with a friend. He was buried for 25 minutes under the snow without access to oxygen and he fell into a coma. After rescue workers freed the prince from the snow he was taken to the Landeskrankenhaus, a hospital in Innsbruck where doctors reanimated him for fifty minutes. It became clear pretty quickly that Friso had sustained brain damage.
In March 2012 Friso was transferred to the Wellington hospital in his place of residence London. Starting in November of last year, Friso showed minimal signs of consciousness – a condition that has not changed anymore after that.
At the beginning of last month, Friso was transferred to Paleis Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. The RVD reported at the time that Friso would spend the summer months with his family. During his stay in the Netherlands an assessment would be made of his long-term care. The family did not exclude the possibility that the prince would remain in the Netherlands.
During the past one-and-a-half year Beatrix traveled regularly to London to visit her son in the hospital. In the RVD-announcement about Friso’s death the royal family thanks “all those who have taken care of Prince Friso warmly for the excellent and dedicated care.”
In the Netherlands a medical team led by Professor Jan van Gijn and dr. Michael Kuiper – both neurologists – looked after Friso. Van Gijn is specialized in brain-vascular diseases and he knows a lot about chronic, unexplained complaints.
Prince Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg was born on September 25, 1968 in Utrecht as the second son of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus von Amsberg. His brother Willem-Alexander was one-and-a-half years old at the time of his birth. One year later they got another brother, Prince Constantijn.
Prince Johan Friso, as he was called until 2004, grew up in Lage Vuursche, art of the municipality of Baarn in the province of Utrecht. The family lived at the Drakensteyn castle that Beatrix had bought in 1959. When Queen Juliana abdicated in 1980 and Beatrix succeeded her, the family moved to Paleis Huis ten Bosch in The Hague.
Friso studied in The Hague at the First Liberal Christian High school. In 1986 he passed his exam for vwo-b. He was also an avid sportsman, from a very young age he was on skis in Lech in Austria, a hobby that would later become his undoing.
After high school the Prince went to the prestigious University of California in Berkeley near San Francisco. Two years later he returned to the Netherlands as mechanical engineer. In 1994 he graduated from the technical University delft as an engineer in aviation and space technology. At the same time he graduated from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam in business administration.
After his studies Friso worked for several companies. At the business-bank Goldman Sachs he became vice-president investment banking. After several other jobs he became the financial director of Urenco, the British-Dutch producer of enriched uranium.
In 2003 Queen Beatrix announced Friso’s engagement with Mabel Wisse Smit. The Second Chamber approved of a marriage, but things changed when it appeared that Mabel had had contacts with Klaas Bruinsma, a notorious drugs criminal who was liquidated by Martin Hoogland, a policeman turned Mafioso, in June 1991.
In the nineties Mabel also maintained a close relationship with Muhamed Sacirbey, a former ambassador for Bosnia at the United Nations. When accusations about embezzlement against Sacirbey surfaced, Mabel distanced herself from him.
The relationship with Bruinsma – though not a love affair – was too much for Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and he refused to give permission for the marriage. Friso stuck to Mabel and married her on April 24, 2004, but it cost him his membership of the royal household. Prince Friso and Princess Mabel have two children: Luana (2005) and Zaria (2006).
The RVD opened a digital condolence-register at Koninklijkhuis.nl yesterday afternoon.