King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands Shares Swoon-Worthy Story of How He Met His Wife, Queen Maxima, in Spain 25 Years Ago

He raised a glass to the country during a state banquet at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, held in honor of King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.

Royal Family of Spain visits the Royal Family of Netherlands
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is a royal family crossover moment happening this week, as the Spanish royals visit the Netherlands for an official visit with the Dutch royal family. Last night, at a state banquet honoring King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands shared an adorable story about meeting his wife, Queen Maxima, in Spain—Seville, specifically—that melted hearts.

“Spain has a special place in our hearts,” Willem-Alexander said last night during the glamorous banquet at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. “First of all, because it was in your country that our life together began. We were at the Feria de Abril in Seville 25 years ago. The sparks began to fly. The rest is history.” As he recounted their meeting, this “prompt[ed] a big smile from Queen Maxima,” People reports. 

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands' smile says it all.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Then the future king, Willem-Alexander met Argentinian-born Maxima Zorreguieta in April 1999—a quarter century ago this month—where the first in line to the throne introduced himself simply as “Alexander.” Maxima, who was then working in banking in New York City, reportedly didn’t believe him when she learned later that he was the heir to the Dutch throne. The two began dating, announced their engagement in March 2001, and married in Amsterdam in February 2002; Willem-Alexander became king in 2013 after his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated the throne.

Willem-Alexander continued in his speech at the diplomatic dinner that his visits to Spain always felt “warm” for him and his wife, as well as his eldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia, who was there last night. Catharina-Amalia is the future queen of the Netherlands and is the eldest of Willem-Alexander and Maxima’s three daughters.

Princess Catharina Amalia of the Netherlands

Last night marked Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands' first state banquet.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The monarch further thanked Felipe and Letizia for their part in making it possible for Catharina-Amalia, 20, to safely study abroad in Spain recently, after security threats prevented her from continuing to live in student housing at her university in Amsterdam. “Last year, circumstances required her to live in Madrid,” the king said. “From there, she was able to continue her studies at the University of Amsterdam. This was made possible by the kind efforts of many of your compatriots and yourselves. A touching demonstration of friendship at a difficult time. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to you and to everyone else who helped arrange this.” (Felipe and Letizia themselves share two daughters; their eldest, Princess Leonor, is a future queen, as well.)

Catharina-Amalia’s presence at last night’s state banquet marked her first appearance at such an event. For the occasion, “she shimmered in the Ruby Peacock Tiara—which might be her royal go-to, as she’s worn it twice before, both times to royal weddings,” People writes. (Catharina-Amalia—whose title is the Princess of Orange—first wore a tiara at Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway’s 18th birthday gala in 2022; for that event, she wore the same tiara her mother, Maxima, wore at her 2002 wedding.)

Following Willem-Alexander’s address, Felipe stood to give his remarks, where he spoke about the special relationship between Spain and the Netherlands—and acknowledged two future queens, Catharina-Amalia and Leonor. “We hope these days may contribute to reinforce even more deep bonds between two societies that look together towards a prosperous future,” he said. “So do our parliamentary monarchies as we go together towards that future, hand-in-hand with two women of their generation, Princess Amalia and Princess Leonor. Deeply committed to their nation, and their people.”

Royal Family of Spain visits the Royal Family of Netherlands

Last night's official portrait at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Felipe—who took the throne in 2014 after his father, King Juan Carlos, abdicated one year after Willem-Alexander’s mother did the same—then invited guests to raise a glass, and circled back to how Willem-Alexander and Maxima met in Seville “25 years ago, around this particular time of the year” at the “famous Feria de Abril,” which brought wide smiles to their faces, People reports.

Royal Family of Spain visits the Royal Family of Netherlands

From left, King Willem-Alexander, King Felipe, Queen Letizia, and Queen Maxima during the Spanish royal family's official state visit to the Netherlands.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Queen Maxima and Queen Letizia

Two of the most glamorous royals in the world, Queen Maxima and Queen Letizia.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Queen Letizia

As ever, Queen Letizia of Spain's looks didn't disappoint.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“We therefore toast to that personal and emotional connection to our country so it will always remain and flourish, as it has since then,” Felipe concluded.

The Spanish royals are on their second day of their two-day visit to the Netherlands today.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.