The Dutch court has just announced the death of Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, King Willem-Alexander’s younger brother, at the age of 44. The Prince had been in a coma since he suffered severe brain damage after being buried by an avalanche while skiing off piste in Lech, Austria in February 2012.
Prince Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David of the Netherlands, as he then was, was born in Utrecht on 25 September 1968. He was the second of the three sons born to the then Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus within two and a half years. His mother ascended the throne in 1980, but abdicated on 30 April this year.
Prince Johan Friso studied mechanical engineering at Berkeley and in Utrecht, and obtained a MSc in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He thereafter embarked on a career in business, working for in Amsterdam and London. He did not carry out official engagements on behalf of the royal family.
On 30 June 2003 Prince Johan Friso announced his engagement to Mabel Wisse Smit. They married in Delft on 24 April 2004, which cost the groom the title of Prince of the Netherlands and his rights of succession to the throne as it had emerged that Mabel Wisse Smit had lied to the government about her relationship with a drugs baron. The government therefore decided not to seek Parliament’s approval for the marriage, which was necessary for the groom to maintain his position. However, Queen Beatrix allowed him to retain the subsidary, dynastic title of Prince of Orange-Nassau and he was still ranked as the second son of the monarch. At the same time he dropped the name Johan, choosing to be known as Prince Friso.
Prince Friso and Princess Mabel had two daughters, countesses Luana and Zaria of Orange-Nassau, born in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The family lived in London, and it was to the Wellington Hospital in that city that Prince Friso was flown after his accident. In November of that year it was announced that he was showing signs of minimal awareness and in July this year he was moved to his mother’s home, the Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, as he was no longer needed hospital care. It was there that he passed away this morning.