Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau

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Princess Mabel
Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau Allan Warren 2.jpg
Portrait by Allan Warren
Spouse Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau
(2004-2013; his death)
Issue
Countess Luana
Countess Zaria
Full name
Mabel Martine
House House of Orange-Nassau (by marriage)
Father Hendrik Cornelis Los
Mother Florence Malde Gijsberdina Kooman
Born (1968-08-11) 11 August 1968 (age 45)

Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau (formerly Mabel Martine Wisse Smit, born Mabel Martine Los, 11 August 1968) is the widow of Prince Friso, brother of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Early life[edit]

She was born Mabel Martine Los in Pijnacker, The Netherlands. Her parents were Hendrik Cornelis "Henk" Los (27 April 1944 - 18 February 1978) and his wife Florence Malde Gijsberdina "Flos" Kooman (b. 1944) (the daughter of Anthonie Kooman (15 June 1915 - 8 November 1979) and his wife Antoinette Petronella van Woerkom. After Mabel's father died, when she was 9 years old, her mother married Peter Wisse Smit (15 October 1939 - 11 November 2000) in 1984, Mabel and her sister took their stepfather's surname. Princess Mabel has two younger sisters, Nicoline Los, later Nicoline Wisse Smit (b. 1970) and Eveline Wisse Smit (b. 1982).[1] She grew up in Het Gooi in the central Netherlands.

She studied economics and political science at the University of Amsterdam, graduating summa cum laude in 1993. During her studies she also completed internships at the United Nations, Shell, ABN AMRO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition to Dutch, she speaks fluent English, Spanish and French.

During her university years, she showed special interest in human rights situations around the world, and later specialised in Balkan diplomacy and international relations. In 1995 she was present at the peace conference in Dayton, Ohio.

Work[edit]

Princess Mabel with Jimmy Wales at Wikipedia's 10th anniversary party in London, 2011, by Allan Warren.

Wisse Smit was co-founder of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans in 1994, which was a non-governmental organisation that strove for peace, democracy and stability in the Balkans, and had Margaret Thatcher, Simon Wiesenthal and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing among its members.

In 1995 she was one of the co-founders of War Child Netherlands, she was on the Trustee Board until 1999. In 1997, she was appointed director of EU affairs of the Open Society Institute in Brussels, one of the foundations of Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.[2] From 2002 to 2008, Princess Mabel worked in the London branch of the Open Society Institute where she was the International Advocacy Director, to help coordinate all international OSI advocacy activities aimed at international policy change.[3]

The World Economic Forum in Switzerland counted her as one of the hundred "Global Leaders for Tomorrow". She is a member of the worldwide Forum of Young Global Leaders, a thinktank and lobby group that aims to tackle global issues.

She is one of the founding members of the European thinktank European Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a member of the Interpeace Governing Council.[4]

From July 2008 till May 2012 she was the first Chief Executive Officer of The Elders, a group of eminent individuals convened by Nelson Mandela to use their wisdom, independent leadership and experience to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. She oversaw the day-to-day operations for the Elders.[5]

In May 2012, Mabel van Oranje resigned as CEO of The Elders, following the February 2012 accident in which her husband, Prince Friso, was caught in an avalanche and remained hospitalised until his death on 12 August 2013.[6] She continues to be involved with The Elders as a member of its Advisory Council, which she sits on in her capacity as Advisory Committee Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.

Controversy[edit]

After announcing the engagement of Prince Friso with Mabel in June 2003, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende wrote in a letter to parliament that Mabel Wisse Smit had given "incomplete and incorrect information" about the duration and extent of her contacts with known drug lord, Klaas Bruinsma,[7][8] and that because of this, the government had decided not to seek permission for the marriage from parliament.[9][10] In a letter to the Prime Minister dated 9 October,[11] Prince Friso stated that the couple had given some incomplete information, but had not given any incorrect information nor did they lie. The couple admitted that the sailing friendship with Bruinsma was indeed closer than had been mentioned, but denied a love or sexual relationship. This was later repeated by Wisse Smit in a number of interviews.[12]

According to Dutch law, the government had to submit the couple's marriage request to parliament for its approval, a prerequisite for succession to the throne. Prince Johan Friso said he would marry Smit regardless, and as a result lost his right to become king. He had been second in the order of succession, after his older brother, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

In a report later issued by the Stichting Nederlandse Nieuwsmonitor (Dutch News Monitor Foundation),[13] it was alleged that the Dutch media had contributed to blowing things out of proportion after the prime minister made 'unnuanced' comments during two news conferences. In this period Wisse Smit also received negative publicity by revelations about her affair, which started circa 1993, with married Bosnian UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey. Princess Mabel has lived in London, England, since the revelations about her previous life were made public.[citation needed]

Marriage and children[edit]

Prince Friso with his wife Mabel and daughters in 2010

Mabel Wisse Smit and Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau married in Delft on 24 April 2004. The couple had two daughters:

Because he did not ask the Dutch parliament for permission to marry, Prince Friso ceased being a member of the royal house and forfeited his and his future children's succession rights. Therefore, neither Princess Mabel nor their daughters are members of the royal house. Prince Friso died in 2013.

Style, titles and names[edit]

  • 11 August 1968 – 1984: Miss Mabel Martine Los
  • 1984 – 24 April 2004: Miss Mabel Martine Wisse Smit (she took her stepfather's surname)
  • 24 April 2004 - 12 August 2013: Her Royal Highness Princess Mabel Martine of Orange-Nassau, Countess of Orange-Nassau, Mrs. van Amsberg
  • 12 August 2013 - present: Her Royal Highness Princess Mabel Martine of Orange-Nassau, Countess of Orange-Nassau, Wid. van Amsberg

Since her marriage, Mabel Wisse Smit may use the courtesy titles of Princess of Orange-Nassau, Countess of Orange-Nassau, Mrs. Van Amsberg. She was not legally created a princess, but received courtesy titles due to her marriage, since it is customary for wives of members of the royal family to take the titles of their husbands. It was decided that their children each would receive the titles of Count or Countess of Orange-Nassau and Jonkheer or Jonkvrouw van Amsberg.

Honours and Awards[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]