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Dutch Prince Friso dies 18 months after ski accident

August 12, 2013|By Janet Stobart

LONDON -- Prince Johan Friso, the younger brother of recently enthroned King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, died Monday as a result of brain injuries suffered during a skiing accident 18 months ago, according to an official statement from the palace.

The communique posted on the royal website stated that the 44-year-old prince “has died of complications related to the hypoxic brain injury which he suffered as the result of his skiing accident in Lech, Austria on 17 February 2012.”

Friso was buried by an avalanche while skiing off a trail despite avalanche warnings during a holiday in the Austrian Alps. He was rescued after lying under the snow for about 20 minutes, but suffered irreversible brain damage and remained in a coma. After initial treatment in Innsbruck, Austria, he was transferred to a private hospital in London, where he had worked and lived with his family.

Late last year he showed signs of "minimal consciousness," said an earlier statement from the palace, and was transferred from London’s private Wellington Hospital to Palace Huis ten Bosch in the Hague, the residence of his mother, former Queen Beatrix. He remained in the same state until his death.

The prince, with degrees in mechanical engineering and economics from UC Berkeley and Delft and Rotterdam universities, was chief financial officer in a British nuclear power company until his accident prompted his resignation. His career also included time at Goldman Sachs' investment branch in London and the London branch of Wolfensohn investment consultants.

Although he kept his royal title of prince of Orange-Nassau, he renounced any claim to the throne when his marriage to Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004 was not approved by parliament after royal vetting of her past uncovered a onetime relationship with a renowned drug baron when she was a student.

Princess Mabel, and their two daughters, Countess Luana, 8, and Countess Zaria, 7, also retained their titles, although the prince was reported to be happy with his decision to renounce his position as fourth in line to the throne. He called himself a “reserve pretender to the throne.”

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