We’re going to celebrate this week’s holiday of romance with a look back at a royal love story celebrated at a grand wedding on February 2, 2002.
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In May 1999, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander attended a party at the Seville Fair where he met Argentinian-born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, an investment banker based in New York. He did not introduce himself as a prince and when he later confessed, Máxima apparently thought it was a joke. They couple arranged to meet again a few weeks later in New York where, it is understood, their romance blossomed. Prince Willem-Alexander proposed to Máxima on January 19, 2001 while ice skating at Huis ten Bosch Palace and on March 30, 2002, Queen Beatrix and (the late) Prince Claus announced the couple’s engagement.
Máxima turned to legendary designer Valentino for her dress. Knowing that the wedding would include much movement (travel by car and carriage to civil and church ceremonies), Valentino constructed the dress of ivory Mikado silk, a fabric known not only for its beautiful luster but also for being crease proof. The dress featured a high, open funnel neckline, unembellished bodice and three-quarter length sleeves. A high-waisted, A-lineskirt inset with embroidered lace panels extended to a five-meter (16.4 foot) train.
Máxima topped the very regal dress with a couture silk tulle veil hand-embroidered with floral motifs, Swiss dots and a wide scalloped border. The veil was anchored by a custom tiara made from the base of the Dutch Pearl Button tiara topped by five sparkling diamond stars from Queen Emma’s collection. While these diamond pieces combined to create a rather spiky tiara, it was beautifully softened by the voluminous veil and worked well with Máxima’s upswept hair and the sleek bodice of her gown.
Prince Willem-Alexander wore the uniform of Captain of the Royal Netherlands Navy decorated with the Accession Medal 1980, ribbon and star of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands, the Officer’s Cross and star of a Knight of the House Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau.
Máxima was attended by four women (her younger sister, one of her childhood friends and two of Willem-Alexander’s cousins) who wore high necked burgundy velvet fitted jackets over full-length, flared burgundy duchesse satin skirts. Tucked beside their chignons, behind their left ears, were large burgundy silk rose headpieces. Four young pageboys and two young bridesmaids wore burgundy velvet ensembles with pleated cream lace collars.
The wedding was filled with some wonderfully personal moments that I always welcome at such state events, the most poignant of which was an Argentine tango, played in honor of Máxima’s homeland and parents, who did not attend because of controversy related to her father’s involvement in the Videla regime (1979-1981). Much of the church ceremony, along with the carriage recession back to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and balcony appearance are included in the video below– start at 22:30 for the tango.