Princess Christina of the Netherlands
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Maria Christina "Marijke" was born at Soestdijk Palace, Baarn, Netherlands. Among her godparents was Winston Churchill. Her mother had contracted German measles during her pregnancy and as a result, the Princess was born nearly blind. Over time, advances in medicine allowed for treatments that, with the aid of special glasses, brought about an improvement in her vision so that she could attend school and live a relatively normal life. Despite this initial handicap, she was a brilliant and happy child, with a considerable talent for music. She also had a capacity for languages and as a young girl delighted the visiting President of the French Republic, René Coty, by conversing fluently with him in the French language.
In 1963, Princess Marijke changed her name to her second name, Christina. Pursuing her gift for music, at age 21 she moved to Canada to study classical music in Montreal. After a few years, she accepted a teaching position at a Montessori school in New York City. There, living under the name Christina van Oranje, the Princess met and started a relationship with a Havana-born Cuban exile named Jorge Pérez y Guillermo, himself a teacher for the Addie May Collins Shelter of Harlem and a former hotelier. Guillermo was born in Havana on 1 August 1946. He is the son of Federico Gilberto Pérez y Castillo and wife Edenia Mercedes Guillermo y Marrero, who died in Florida in 2002.
Although societal attitudes were changing, because Guillermo was a Roman Catholic, it was still possible that any marriage could cause another public scandal in the Netherlands such as the one that occurred in 1964 when her sister, Princess Irene married the Catholic Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma. Accordingly, Princess Christina, at that time ninth in line for the Dutch throne, renounced her and her descendants' rights to the throne before converting to Catholicism and officially announcing her engagement on St. Valentine's Day, 1975.
Married on 28 June 1975, in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, the newlyweds rode through the streets of the city to the cheers of thousands of Dutch citizens. Following their marriage, she and her husband chose to live in New York but later moved to her native land where they built a home on an estate in Wassenaar, near The Hague.
Their children were:
- Bernardo Federico Tomás Guillermo, (born 17 June 1977); married civilly on 2 March 2009 in New York City to Eva Marie Valdez (born 2 August 1979), an editor at a prominent publisher. Married religiously on 5 September 2009 at the Queen of All Saints Church. The couple have a daughter, Isabel Christina (born 13 April 2009), and a son, Julián Jorge Guillermo (born 21 September 2011).
- Nicolás Daniel Mauricio Guillermo (born 6 July 1979).
- Juliana Edenia Antonia Guillermo (born 8 October 1981).
She recorded several CDs and has a Music Foundation in the Netherlands. She sang at her father's funeral and at her mother's funeral, and participated in a tribute concert that the CIMA Festival held in Italy for Queen Juliana, under the direction of Jorge Chaminé.
Titles, styles, and honours
Titles and styles
- 18 February 1947 – 28 June 1975: Her Royal Highness Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld
- 28 June 1975 - 1996: Her Royal Highness Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Mrs Guillermo
- 1996 - present: Her Royal Highness Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- Royal Wedding Medal 1966 (10 March 1966)
- Queen Beatrix Investiture Medal (30 April 1980)
- Royal Wedding Medal 2002 (2 February 2002)
- King Willem-Alexander Investiture Medal (30 April 2013)