She was Kate Middleton before Kate Middleton was even out of college.
Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti became queen of the Netherlands this morning upon the coronation of her husband King Willem-Alexander of Orange in Amsterdam, but when she wed the then-prince and heir to the Dutch throne in 2002, she was the original cool commoner princess.
The Argentinian businesswoman and daughter of former Argentinian politician Jorge Zorreguieta met the prince in April 1999 in Seville while Máxima was working for the British investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort as vice president for emerging markets.
Like a plot point in an opera, Willem reportedly did not tell her he was a prince at first, and she didn't believe him when he later did. Their relationship went on for two years before Willem proposed. After her engagement to Willem was announced in 2001, Máxima was granted dual Dutch-Argentinian citizenship.
If Máxima, 41, carries herself with a regal air, it might be because she is distantly descended from King Afonso III of Portugal, who reigned from 1248 to 1279, and various other Portuguese royalty through her father, who served in the Argentinian government under General Jorge Videla, the currently imprisoned former dictator of Argentina.
Máxima’s lateral affiliation with Videla was a point of some contention when her relationship with Willem was first publicized. When her engagement to the then-crown prince was announced in 2001, the Dutch Parliament ordered an investigation into her father’s political dealings. Research later confirmed that Zorreguieta, while aware of the Dirty War against the left-wing political groups during his tenure as agriculture minister, was not involved with the deaths of political opponents during that period. Even so, Máxima’s parents did not attend her February 2002 wedding.
Máxima’s official full title now is Her Majesty Queen Máxima, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Mrs. Van Amsberg. Her oldest daughter, 9-year-old Princess Catharina-Amalia of Orange, is now the heir apparent to the Dutch throne.