Princess Maria Christina of the Netherlands (born 18 February 1947) is the youngest of four daughters born to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.
Princess Christina, known then as “Princess Marijke” was born on 18 February 1947, at Soestdijk Palace, Baarn Netherlands. Her mother was Princess Juliana, Princess of Orange, only child and heir of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her late husband Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. At the time of her birth she was fifth in the line of succession to her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina. Her father was Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld a son of Prince Bernhard of Lippe and his wife Armgard von Cramm.
Christina is the youngest of four sisters: Princess Beatrix, Princess Irene and Princess Margriet.
Her godparents included: Queen Wilhelmina (her maternal grandmother), Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands (her eldest sister), Winston Churchill (for whom her father stood proxy), Princess Armgard (her paternal grandmother), Felix, Prince Consort of Luxembourg and his niece Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma.
During pregnancy, her mother had contracted German measles and as a result, Christina was born nearly blind. Over time, advances in medicine allowed for treatments that, with the aid of special glasses, brought about an improvement in her vision so that she could attend school and live a relatively normal life.
As Christina’s eye treatments went on, Prince Bernhard had introduced Princess Juliana with the faith healer Greet Hofmans, to treat Christina’s eye; later on Greet played a great influence to Juliana which later caused the Dutch Royal Court crisis of 1948–1956.
On 4 September 1948, her grandmother Queen Wilhelmina abdicated after a reign of nearly 58 years, in favour of Christina’s mother who was inaugurated as Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 6 September 1948.
Despite this initial handicap, she was a brilliant and happy child, with a considerable talent for music. She also had a capacity for languages and as a young girl delighted the visiting President of the French Republic, René Coty, by conversing fluently with him in the French language.
Just as her sisters had, Christina had also joined scouts as a young girl
In 1963, Princess Marijke changed her name to her second name, Christina. Pursuing her gift for music, at age 21 she moved to Canada to study classical music in Montreal. After a few years, she accepted a teaching position at a Montessori school in New York City. There, living under the name Christina van Oranje, the Princess met and started a relationship with a Havana-born Cuban exile named Jorge Pérez y Guillermo, himself a teacher for the Addie May Collins Shelter of Harlem and a former hotelier. Guillermo was born in Havana on 1 August 1946. He is the son of Federico Gilberto Pérez y Castillo and wife Edenia Mercedes Guillermo y Marrero, who died in Florida in 2002. Brother of Gilberto Pérez y Guillermo.
Although societal attitudes were changing, because Guillermo was a Roman Catholic, it was still possible that any marriage could cause another public scandal in the Netherlands such as the one that occurred in 1964 when her sister, Princess Irene married the Catholic Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma. Accordingly, Princess Christina, at that time ninth in line for the Dutch throne, renounced her and her descendants’ rights to the throne before converting to Catholicism and officially announcing her engagement on St. Valentine’s Day, 1975.
Married on 28 June 1975, in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, the newlyweds rode through the streets of the city to the cheers of thousands of Dutch citizens. Following their marriage, she and her husband chose to live in New York but later moved to her native land where they built a home on an estate in Wassenaar, near The Hague.
Their children are:
Bernardo Federico Tomás Guillermo, (born 17 June 1977); married civilly on 2 March 2009 in New York City to Eva Marie Valdez (born 2 August 1979), an editor at a prominent publisher. Married religiously on 5 September 2009 at the Queen of All Saints Church. The couple have a daughter, Isabel Christina (born 13 April 2009), and a son, Julián Jorge Guillermo (born 21 September 2011).
Nicolás Daniel Mauricio Guillermo (born 6 July 1979).
Juliana Edenia Antonia Guillermo (born 8 October 1981).
Divorced in 1996, Princess Christina returned with her children to live in the United States. After her mother’s death she has lived partly in London, partly in Monte Argentario, Italy.
She recorded several CDs and has a Music Foundation in the Netherlands. She sang at her father’s funeral and at her mother’s funeral, and participated in a tribute concert that the CIMA Festival held in Italy for Queen Juliana, under the direction of Jorge Chaminé.