The Princess was born as Máxima Zorreguieta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 17 May 1971. Máxima is the daughter of Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta Stefanini (born in Buenos Aires, 28 January 1928), a farmer and a politician, who would later be under-secretary of Agriculture under Jorge R. Videla's junta and afterwards President of the Centro Azucarero Argentino (since 1984) and President of the Fundación Vasco-Argentina Juan de Garay (since 1995), son of a Basque Argentine father and an Italian Argentine and a descendant of some Basque nobility, María del Carmen Cerruti Carricart (b. Pergamino, 8 September 1944), daughter of Basque-Argentine parents and who also had some Basque noble ancestry. She studied in Northlands School, in Argentina. She has two brothers, a sister and three half-sisters by her father's first wife Marta López Gil (b. 1935), whom he married in 1956, later divorcing.
A former investment banker, she graduated with a degree in Economics from the Universidad Católica Argentina in 1995 before working for large international companies in Finance in Argentina, New York and Europe.
Máxima met the heir to the Dutch throne in April 1999 in Sevilla, Spain, during the Seville Spring Fair, also known as the "Feria de abril de Sevilla." This is an important annual event, to which many people from other countries come and dress in typical Spanish Andalusian costume. In an interview, they stated that he introduced himself only as "Alexander," so that she did not know he was a prince. She thought he was joking when he told her he was a Prince. They agreed to meet in New York, where Máxima was working for Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, two weeks later. Their relationship apparently began in New York, but the Princess did not meet the Prince's parents, Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, for some time.
The news of the couple's relationship and eventual marriage plans caused controversy in the Netherlands. Máxima's father had been the Minister of Agriculture during the regime of former Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla, a military dictator who ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1981 and who was responsible for many atrocities against civilians (An estimated 10,000–30,000 people disappeared during this and subsequent military regimes before democracy was restored to Argentina in 1983). Jorge Zorreguieta claimed that, as a civilian, he was unaware of the Dirty War while he was a cabinet minister. Professor Baud, who on request of the Dutch Parliament did an inquiry in the involvement of Zorreguieta, concluded that would it have been unlikely for a person in such a powerful position in the government to be unaware of the Dirty War. However, the research determined that Máxima's father had not been directly involved with the many deaths in question. Even so, his possible presence at the royal wedding was debated for several months.
Dutch Royal Family
HM The Queen *
Approval for the marriage was granted by the Dutch parliament (necessary by law for the Prince of Orange to remain heir to the throne), but Máxima's father offered not to attend the wedding. Out of solidarity with her husband, Máxima's mother also remained absent from the wedding on 2 February 2002 in Amsterdam.
Máxima was granted Dutch nationality by Royal Decree on 17 May 2001. This provoked complaints since such a grant before marriage is not customary in the Netherlands (but required by Dutch law for a royal bride). Under normal circumstances, citizenship takes several years to obtain. The Princess has dual citizenship: Argentine and Dutch.
The couple announced their engagement on 30 March 2001. Princess Máxima addressed the nation in fluent Dutch during the directly televised broadcast on the occasion of the engagement.
Princess Máxima and Prince Willem-Alexander were married on 2 February 2002 in a civil ceremony in the Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam which was then followed by a religious ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk (also in Amsterdam).
The second names of all three of their daughters are after Dutch queens: Amalia's for her grandmother, Queen Beatrix, Alexia's for her great-grandmother, Queen Juliana and Ariane's for her great-great-grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina.
Princess Máxima is also godmother to two royal babies: Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau (daughter of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands) and of Prince Sverre Magnus of Norway (son of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway).
Princess Maxima does not carry the title "Princess of Orange" in capacity as wife of the current Prince of Orange, Prince Willem-Alexander. In the Netherlands, the title Prince(ss) of Orange is only reserved for and used by the heir apparent to the throne. When Prince Willem-Alexander is inaugurated as King of the Netherlands, the current Hereditary Princess of Orange, Princess Catharina-Amalia, will become the Princess of Orange.
By Royal Decree of 25 January 2002, nr. 41, upon the solemnization of marriage, Máxima Zorreguieta was taken up into the Dutch nobility and the titles Princess of the Netherlands and Princess of Orange-Nassau and the predicate Royal Highness were formally granted to her.
Princess Máxima focuses on the issue of integration of immigrants into Dutch culture. She was a member of a special parliamentary commission, which sought to recommend ways to increase the participation of female immigrants in the workforce. Princess Máxima stresses the importance of learning the Dutch language, as she did, for immigrants to fully participate in Dutch society.
Princess Máxima was a member of the Advisors Group for the United Nations' International Year of Microcredit 2005. She traveled to multiple countries, including in Africa and South America to promote Microcredit. She has also attended many UN functions related to the International Year of Microcredit. She participates in conferences around the world representing the Netherlands. The Princess was granted a seat in the Council of State, the highest advisory body and court of administration (established by Emperor Charles V in 1531). She became a member of the Committee for Ethnic Minority Women’s Participation, has a seat in the board of governors of the Chair on the Management of Diversity and Integration at the Free University of Amsterdam, she (along with her husband) is a patron of the Orange Fund (established to promote social welfare and cohesion in the Netherlands), and also chairs the Board of Trustees of the Prince Claus Chair of the University of Utrecht. The Princess was appointed in September 2009 by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, as his Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development because of her "extensive knowledge and expertise" on financial matters in developing countries.
Máxima toured all across the Netherlands and visited different countries in the past years on official visits and state visits with the Queen, including Norway, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Baltic States, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, U.S., Turkey, Chile, Morocco, India, Burma, Australia, New Zealand, Aruba, Thailand, Cameroon, Russia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Antilles and Mexico
She is one of the few royals in the world to be an open supporter of gay rights and was the first royal to attend an LGBT rights conference. The Princess signed an accord at the end of the conference calling for the full acceptance of gays in The Netherlands. "The Princess is in favor of equal rights of all groups in the Netherlands," her spokesperson said. Queen Beatrix has spoken out a number of times in support of LGBT rights.