Dutch Prince Friso Dies at 44 After 2012 Ski Accident
Friso van Oranje, the brother of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands whose love for a woman led him to renounce his claim to the throne, has died 18 months after a skiing accident left him in a coma. He was 44.
He died today in the Huis ten Bosch palace in The Hague, the Dutch government information service said in a statement. The cause was complications from brain damage suffered after an avalanche buried him while skiing in Austria in February 2012.
Friso, the second son of Princess Beatrix, who abdicated as queen in April, became chief financial officer at Urenco Ltd., a London-based uranium enrichment company, in January 2011. He previously was a managing director at Wolfensohn & Co. and had worked at McKinsey & Co. in Amsterdam and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s investment-banking unit in London.
In 2003, the prince gave up his right to the throne by deciding to marry Mabel Wisse Smit without parliament’s permission. Wisse Smit had provided incomplete information to the government during a background check about her past relationship with Klaas Bruinsma, the head of a Dutch criminal organization who was murdered in 1991. After that, Friso was no longer a Prince of the Netherlands but retained the title of Prince of Oranje.
Friso’s death is “intensely sad,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement. “We will remember Prince Friso as a man with broad interests who has always put his multiple talents at the service of society.”
Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje was born on Sept. 25, 1968, in the Dutch city of Utrecht, one of three sons of the queen and Prince Claus. His father died in 2002.
Friso studied engineering at the University of California at Berkeley from 1986 to 1988 and earned a degree in aerospace engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1994. He received a master’s in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 1995 and a master’s of business administration from the European Institute of Business Administration, known as INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France, in 1997.
On Feb. 17, 2012, while skiing in Austria, the prince was trapped under snow for 20 minutes before being taken to the intensive-care unit of a hospital in Innsbruck. He had been skiing off the trail with another person without a guide and triggered the avalanche, according to Hermann Fercher, tourism director at Lech, the Austrian ski resort where the Dutch royal family regularly vacations.
Besides his mother and older brother, Friso’s survivors include his younger sibling, Prince Constantijn, and his wife and two daughters, Luana, 8, and Zaria, 7.