Argentine-born Dutch queen faces awkward choice at World Cup

July 9

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima cheer Holland during a soccer match between Australia and the Netherlands at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup (Agence France-Presse via Getty Images).

Argentina's three most world-renowned public personalities are Lionel Messi, considered by many to be soccer's greatest player of all time; Pope Francis, the Vatican's first Latin American pontiff; and Máxima Zorreguieta, an Argentine economist who, as wife of Dutch King William-Alexander, happens to also be a European royal.

As Argentina and the Netherlands meet in the World Cup semifinal on Wednesday, sports commentators and social media fans have been insisting that the queen will support the team clad in orange instead of the team from her homeland. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as she has proved many times that she is a royal loyal. Others believe that, deep down, her heart is still painted in the blue and white of Argentina's "albiceleste."

In all her public appearances, Máxima has backed her husband's national team. She traveled to Brazil with her spouse to cheer Holland, appearing at the group match between the Netherlands and Australia in an orange scarf (pictured above). After the 3-2 victory, she went to the players’ changing rooms and congratulated them. Since her marriage more than a decade ago, she has never been present at any Argentine game. But the Dutch royal couple will not attend Wednesday's semifinal, according to the Associated Press.

Fans in Twitter published jokes, suggesting that the royal couple were going through marital issues spurred by the game:

Spanish-language newspapers in Latin America also debated the issue, resorting to descriptors such as a “broken”or “divided" heart to refer to the queen’s mixed feelings. On several occasions, Máxima, a naturalized citizen of the Netherlands, has said that she considers herself Dutch because her kids are.

Some reporters from Argentina are sympathetic to her plight. Miguel Ángel Vicente, a columnist for the newspaper Clarín, wrote: “It is almost impossible that [Máxima] dreams of Messi or Pipita Higuaín scoring a goal. Instead, she would like to see Arjen Robben and his team doing a great work for her people’s sake.” (Messi and Higuaín are Argentine stars; Robben is a twinkle-toed, dangerous Dutch winger.)

Still, there is evidence that maybe she won’t turn a blind eye to Argentina. Journalists Soledad Ferrari and Gonzalo Álvarez Guerrero, who published the biography "Máxima: Una historia real" (Máxima: A Royal Story), insist that she maintains a sense of Argentine identity. For example, she speaks to her three daughters in Argentine Spanish, something that has reportedly displeased the Dutch media.

Darío Silva D’Andrea, a reporter for the news Web site Perfil, said her Argentineness is something Máxima can’t help. “She loves [popular late folk music singer] Mercedes Sosa, tango, mate [a local infusion], she spends her holidays in Patagonia, she has the right to vote in Argentina, she wears clothes by Argentine designers like Graciela Naum and Benito Fernández, she collects Argentine art.”

This is the fifth time that Holland and Argentina are playing each other in a World Cup tournament, and the second time since Máxima became part of the royalty. Sports commentators said that in the 2010 World Cup she cheered for Holland “with Argentine passion.” In Holland, her presence has been welcomed, and she has an overall positive image. Hein de Vries, the Dutch ambassador to Argentina, told Argentina's La Nación newspaper last year that Máxima "has made Dutch people fall in love with her in a magical and mysterious way." 

Throughout her career, she has prioritized her professional affairs over her personal life. Perhaps one of the turning points was when she got married in 2001. She was asked not to invite her father, Jorge Zorreguieta, secretary of agriculture between 1979 and 1981, to the wedding because of his association with the former brutal military junta that ruled Argentina.

This has been interpreted as one of many “compromises” that Máxima had to make to be crowned. And on Wednesday, she'll probably be making another one.

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