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When Prince Willem-Alexander, the Netherlands' future king, met sophisticated Argentinean banker Máxima Zorreguieta at a 1999 dinner party, he was immediately smitten.

The Dutch military pilot and avid sportsman, who holds the Prince of Orange title given his nation's heir to the throne, was introduced to the highly educated daughter of a controversial Argentinean politician at a soiree in Seville, Spain.

A month later, the oldest son of reigning Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus boarded his first transatlantic flight to court his future bride, who was working in New York City for Deutsche Bank.

Queen Beatrix announced their engagement in March 2001 in a televised address.

At first, the engagement caused a sensation in the Netherlands. The bride-to-be's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, was a polarizing figure because of his role as a government minister during the brutal dictatorship of Argentinean despot Jorge Videla. (The Dutch government had discreetly asked for her father's agreement not to attend the wedding before the engagement was announced.)

The royals were understandably on guard: Riots had broken out in Amsterdam when the queen's engagement to German-born Prince Claus was announced decades earlier after it was revealed he had served in the Hitler Youth as a boy.

But after the couple embarked on a whirlwind whistle-stop tour of the Netherlands, the 30-year-old Zorreguieta's beauty, intellect and worldly sophistication charmed the populace and the Dutch parliament issued the required approval of the marriage.

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Their wedding on Feb. 2, 2002, was a grand state occasion.

The couple had two wedding services: a civil ceremony performed by the mayor of Amsterdam at its former stock exchange, followed by an interfaith religious service at the Protestant Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) next to the royal palace. At that service, a Dutch Reformed minister and a Roman Catholic priest blessed the marriage.

Princess Máxima's Valentino ivory silk wedding dress proved that sartorial excess isn't a requirement to marry a future sovereign. The long-sleeve gown was traditionally modest yet noteworthy for its clean couture lines as well as its stunning, 5-meter-long lace train.

The prince, 34, wore his dark Dutch military uniform.

The bride carried a cascading bouquet of roses and wore a diamond tiara and lace veil.

The princess was accompanied by four bridesmaids (not the children typical of so many royal weddings), who wore scarlet gowns featuring mock-turtleneck-style velvet tops and silk skirt bottoms. Each attendant had her hair pulled in a side bun, dressed with red floral accent.

Among the guests were former South African President Nelson Mandela, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Great Britain's Prince Charles, Queen Noor of Jordan and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.

Princess Máxima's eyes filled with tears as Queen Beatrix signed the official royal marriage decree after the exchange of vows.

About 80,000 well-wishers lined Amsterdam's streets and cheered as the couple emerged from the church to the sound of heralding brass instruments. Spectators waived small flags that said "Kiss" and cheered again when the royal newlyweds granted their request.

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The couple are today parents of three daughters, including the second in line to the throne, Princess Catharina-Amalia. They keep busy public schedules, but have tried to raise their girls out of the limelight, even suing news agencies that have photographed the children without permission.

Prince Willem-Alexander has served on the International Olympic Committee and is involved on an international level in water management issues.

Fashionable Princess Maxima has also been a vocal patron of numerous charities, actively supports the arts and often wears the apparel of Dutch design houses including Viktor & Rolf and Spijkers & Spijkers.

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