Princess's father to avoid ceremony

Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 00:00

The father of Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, who was barred by the Dutch government from attending his daughter’s wedding to Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002, is also expected to stay away from the inauguration of his son-in-law at the end of April, when Maxima will become queen.

The decision is believed to have been taken by Maxima when it became clear that relatives of those who died in her native Argentina in the 1970s during the rule of the Videla military junta in which her father, Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta, was a minister, planned to protest if he attended.

Neither Mr Zorreguieta nor Maxima’s mother, his second wife, Maria del Carmen Cerruti Carricart, is expected to travel to Amsterdam for the ceremony.

Queen Beatrix is stepping down after 33 years on the throne to be replaced by Willem-Alexander, the first Dutch king in 123 years.

It is understood Princess Maxima has notified the prime minister, Mark Rutte, of the decision, thereby preventing a rerun of the national debate about her family background a decade ago.

Paying tribute to 74-year-old Beatrix as “an icon for the Netherlands”, Mr Rutte confirmed on Monday that, although she will be the spouse of the monarch, Maxima – the second most popular royal after Beatrix – will take the title of “queen”.

30,000 deaths

Mr Zorreguieta, who was minister for agriculture in the Videla regime – blamed by Amnesty International for up to 30,000 deaths when it overthrew president Isabel Peron in 1976 – has always denied any involvement in the “disappearances” carried out by the military junta.

A number of legal actions by relatives of the disappeared have been instigated against Mr Zorreguieta, now 84. Although he visited the Netherlands in recent years, there is a possibility he could face arrest there.

After a cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Rutte said April 30th, the day of inauguration, would be a “national party”, held, given the economy’s state, “within budgets”.