Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau
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). 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 and activism
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
In 2015 she signed an open letter which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for; the letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively, which will start to set the priorities in development funding before a main UN summit in September 2015 that will establish new development goals for the generation.
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, and that because of this, the government had decided not to seek permission for the marriage from parliament. In a letter to the Prime Minister dated 9 October, 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.
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, Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange.
In a report later issued by the Stichting Nederlandse Nieuwsmonitor (Dutch News Monitor Foundation), 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.
Marriage and children
Mabel Wisse Smit and Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau married in Delft on 24 April 2004. The couple had two daughters:
- Countess Emma Luana Ninette Sophie of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg, born 26 March 2005 her godparents are Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands (paternal uncle), Eveline Wisse Smit (maternal half-aunt) Baroness Sophie von der Recke (paternal first cousin once removed) and Emma Bonino (parent's friend)
- Countess Joanna Zaria Nicoline Milou of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg, born 18 June 2006 her godparents are Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (paternal uncle); Prince Jaime, Count of Bardi (her father's maternal first cousin) Nicoline Wisse Smit (maternal aunt); Ruben Amerling and Maria Luz Luano (friends of her parents)
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
Since her marriage, Mabel has used the style of Royal Highness and the courtesy titles of Princess of Orange-Nassau, Countess of Orange-Nassau, Mrs. Van Amsberg. She was not legally created a princess, but it is customary for wives and widows 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
- King Willem-Alexander Investiture Medal (30 April 2013).
- In 2014 Mabel of Orange was nominated for the Toastmasters' Communication Award by the Dutch chapter of Toastmasters International for her performance at TEDxAmsterdam. Video available: Mabel van Oranje video talk on how to achieve change at TEDxAmsterdam, 20 November 2009
- "Mabel Martine Wisse Smit". GeneAll.net. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Mabel Wisse Smit, briljant maar omstreden" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 2004-04-23. Archived from the original on May 4, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Osf". Osf-london.org. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- Interpeace "Governing Council" Retrieved on 7 February 2012
- "The Elders announce their Chief Executive Officer". TheElders.org. 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2013-03-11.
- "Mabel van Oranje resigns as CEO of The Elders". TheElders.org. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-03-11.
- Tracy McVeigh. "Poverty is sexist: leading women sign up for global equality | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
- "Prinselijk paar loog over relatie Mabel". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). PCM Uitgevers. 2003-10-11. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Gregory Crouch (2003-10-12). "Revelations About Dutch Prince's Fiancée Rattle Royal Family". Netherlands: Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "BBC reports about "Mabelgate"". BBC News. 2003-10-10. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "BBC reports about the wedding". BBC News. 2004-04-24. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "Letter by Friso to prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, 9 Oktober 2003". Regering.nl. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- Remling, Amanda (20 March 2012). "Dutch Prince Johan Friso: Mabel Wisse Smit Marriage And Other Royal Family Problems". International Business Times. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
- Press statement Stichting Nederlandse Nieuwsmonitor about Mabel Wisse Smit 'Tegen onwaarheid is geen kruid gewassen' Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Royal House of the Netherlands
- The Elders' Official Website
- Mabel van Oranje video talk on how to achieve change at TEDxAmsterdam, 20 November 2009
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