Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau

by Scott Mehl


photo source:

Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau

Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau was the second son of former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg, and a younger brother of King Willem-Alexander. He was born Prince Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David of the Netherlands on September 25, 1968 at the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

A young Prince Friso (left) with his family. photo: The Guardian/Rex Features

A young Prince Friso (left) with his family. photo source: The Guardian/Rex Features

Following his primary education at the Nieuwe Baarnse School in Baarn and secondary education at the Eerste Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum in The Hague, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, studying mechanical engineering. He then attended Delft University of Technology, graduating in 1994 with a degree in aeronautical engineering. From 1990-1995, he also studied economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, earning a masters degree in 1995. And in 1997, he earned his MBA from INSEAD in France.

Prince Friso worked at several companies, both in London and the Netherlands.

He was also the co-founder of the MRI Centre in Amsterdam, and founding shareholder of Wizz Air, a low-cost airline based in Hungary. He was also, along with his younger brother Prince Constantijn, honorary chairman of the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development.

In June 2003, Prince Friso’s engagement to Mabel Wisse Smit was announced. There was public controversy regarding Mabel’s past, and her reported relationship with a known drug lord. Having been somewhat vague in their responses to questions about the issue, and Friso’s insistence that he would marry Mabel with or without formal approval from the government, the decision was made not to request formal consent from the Dutch parliament for the marriage. In doing so, Prince Friso relinquished his rights to the Dutch throne and his title of Prince of the Netherlands. However, he retained his personal title of Prince of Orange-Nassau, and was granted the hereditary title Count of Orange-Nassau, with the surname Orange-Nassau van Amsberg.


Friso and Mabel were married on April 24, 2004 in Delft. Following a civil ceremony, a religious ceremony was held in the Oude Kerk. The couple had two daughters:

  • Countess Luana of Orange-Nassau van Amsberg (2005)
  • Countess Zaria of Orange-Nassau van Amsberg (2006)

On February 17, 2012, while on the royal family’s annual skiing holiday in Lech, Austria, Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche and was in a coma. According to medical reports, he had been buried for 25 minutes and suffered neurological injuries due to the lack of oxygen. On March 1, 2012, he was moved to Wellington Hospital in London, nearer to his family’s home. In the summer of 2013, he was declared to be in a minimally conscious state and no longer in need of hospital care. He was moved again on July 9, 2013, to Huis ten Bosch Palace, his mother’s residence in The Hague. It was here, on August 12, 2013, that Prince Friso passed away at the age of 44.

A private funeral was held at the Stulpkerk in Lage Vurrsche, near Castle Drakensteijn where he had grown up, and he was buried in the church cemetery. A memorial service was later held, on November 2, 2013, at the Oude Kerk in Delft.


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