The most popular woman in the Netherlands at the moment is Máxima Zorreguieta. This blonde, good looking Argentinean is also known as Princess Máxima of Orange since February 2, 2002.

The marriage of the Dutch crown prince and Máxima Zorreguieta was not without controversy. She was a commoner marrying the prince of princes, but that was not the only debate. Her father served as Minister of Agriculture during the regime of Argentine dictator Jorge Videla, during whose 1976-83 military dictatorship up to 30,000 people were killed and many more disappeared. And apart from being non-aristocrat and non-European, Máxima was a Catholic as well, whereas the Dutch royal family consists of deeply religious Protestants.

Fairytale royal wedding
Despite the scandals and the debates, the royal wedding of Máxima and crown prince Willem-Alexander was a true fairytale. Of course the fact that a royal married a commoner was the basis of the fairytale story. But guests from the world's royal families and other prominent people (Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Johan Cruyff) added to that, as well as the ride through the city of Amsterdam in a gilded horse-drawn carriage. The entire country drew together before the television screen to see her 50,000 Euro ivory silk gown with 5m train designed by Italian Valentino, her tears when the Argentine tango was played on bandoneón, and the pair’s vows in church as well as in the Beurs van Berlage. About 80,000 people gathered on the streets of Amsterdam. Not present at the wedding was Máxima’s controversial father.

As the wedding approached, concern about the bride-to-be and the controversies dropped greatly, largely because of her charm and charisma. Zorreguieta stunned the country by speaking fluent Dutch during a press conference in which she denounced the Videla regime. In just a year she learnt to speak a language that is regarded one of the most difficult to learn in Europe. She taught English to children and adults in her birth city Buenos Aires, but studied economics at the Universidad Católica Argentina. A Dutch language expert recently claimed that Máxima’s English is better than George W. Bush’s.

Before the fame
Born on May 17, 1971 in Buenos Aires, Máxima was the fourth daughter of Jorge and María Zorreguieta, descendants of Basque immigrants. After her studies, she worked for several financial institutions in New York. Somewhere during her period at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Deutsche Bank (1998-2000), she met Prince Willem-Alexander at a party in Sevilla (Spain). For the love of her life she decided to move to Brussels in 2000, working for the EU Representative Office of Deutsche Bank until April 2001.

Royal announcement
On March 30, 2001, the royal house announced the engagement of the Prince of Orange and Máxima Zorreguieta. She was awarded Dutch citizenship within two months, an exception made by the government that caused another debate in politically correct Netherlands. As is officially required, Dutch parliament gave its approval of the marriage in July.

Meet and greet
The couple used the period between the official approval and the marriage itself to introduce Máxima to the country, and vice versa. All twelve provinces got a glimpse of the hugely popular princess-to-be, while she got acquainted with the most important cities, cultural features, and VIP’s in the Netherlands. Meanwhile Máxima received education in Dutch language, history and law.

Máxima Zorreguieta’s future is bright. Already compared to Princess Diana when it comes to glamour and the amount of attention, she will be Queen of the Netherlands if current Queen Beatrix decides to abdicate in favour of her son, Maxima’s husband Willem-Alexander. Current prognoses indicate that this will be in ten years from today.