Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Crown Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus, has died at the age of 44. The Prince had been in a coma since a skiing accident in Austria in February 2012. As a child, Friso had already made up his mind he didn’t want to be king. Later in life, he chose to relinquish his right to the throne when parliament refused to approve his marriage.
Born in 1968, Friso was second in line to the throne, destined to follow after his elder brother Willem-Alexander. But even at a young age, he would say to his friends: “You’re allowed to beat up Alex, but don’t kill him because then I have to be king.”
The prince studied aeronautical engineering at Delft University of Technology and economics at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University. Dubbed “the brilliant prince” or “Prince Clever-clogs”, he quickly gained a reputation for his fast brain. But mostly, he preferred to stay out of the limelight. That all changed in 2002, when the Government Information Service announced Mabel Wisse Smit belonged to “his circle of close friends”. In 2003, the couple became engaged.
In her role as CEO of The Elders - an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who work together for peace and human rights – Mabel has proved to be a successful leader.
In the Netherlands, she has a more controversial past. In 2003, she was in the headlines because of her one-time relationship with a notorious drug lord, Klaas Bruinsma. She maintained then that her relationship with Bruinsma, who was murdered in 1991, was on a friendship basis only.
Too much commotion
It soon became clear – after endless political and public wrangling - that parliament was not going to officially grant Prince Friso permission to marry Mabel. Part of the problem was the couple’s failure to give further clarification of the nature of Mabel’s relationship with Bruinsma.
Under Dutch law, royals aspiring to the throne must receive permission from the government and parliament to marry because the cabinet is officially responsible for their actions and statements. The information provided by Friso and Mabel was regarded as misleading.
Prince Friso was forced to choose between upholding his claim to the throne and the love of his life. He chose Mabel Wisse Smit - the couple got married in 2004 – and since then, Friso has not officially been a member of the ruling House of Orange. He was allowed to retain the title of Prince of Orange-Nassau.
The couple moved to London, where the prince worked as a specialist in sustainable energy and emerging economies. Prince Friso and Princess Mabel have two daughters - Luana, 6, and Zaria, 5.
Like many members of the House of Orange, Friso is a competent sportsman. The accident that led to his death occurred while the prince was skiing off-piste and was caught in an avalanche. In an official statement the Dutch Royal House said the Prince died "from complications that arose as a consequence of the brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation following his skiing accident."
Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg, the prince who never wanted to be king, was 44.