Member of Dutch royal family;
Born: September 25, 1968; Died: August 12, 2013.
PRINCE Johan Friso, who has died aged 44 18 months after a skiing accident that left him gravely injured, was the bespectacled Dutch prince who avoided the limelight and gave up his position in line to the throne after becoming entangled in a scandal with his bride-to-be.
Prince Friso was struck by an avalanche while skiing off-trail in Lech, Austria, in February 2012, and was buried until rescuers pulled him from the snow, unconscious, 20 minutes later. He was resuscitated at the scene and flown to a hospital, but remained in a coma for months.
The second of the former Queen Beatrix's three sons, Prince Friso was sometimes known as Prince Brilliant. He studied at UC Berkeley, the Technical University of Delft and Erasmus University at Rotterdam, graduating from the Dutch universities with degrees in engineering and economics. He later earned an MBA at France's prestigious INSEAD school of business.
However, the central event of his life as a royal came when he gave up his claim to the throne in order to marry Dutchwoman Mabel Wisse Smit, in a wedding not sanctioned by the government.
The pair became engaged in 2003. Ms Wisse Smit worked for George Soros' Open Society Institute and was seen by the queen as an ideal daughter-in-law. But during her vetting to join the royal house, she and the prince decided not to disclose the full extent of a friendship she had had while she was a college student.
The friend in question was drug baron Klaas Bruinsma, who later became one of the country's most infamous crime lords and was murdered in a gangland killing.
Ms Wisse Smit denied ever having had any romantic involvement with Bruinsma, and said she had not understood who he was at the time. But as details about their relationship emerged in the Dutch press, then-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said it was clear the pair had held back information, and he would not propose the law needed for parliament to approve Ms Wisse Smit's entry to the royal house.
The couple acknowledged being naive and incomplete in what they told Mr Balkenende but decided to marry without seeking parliamentary approval. The decision meant prince Friso was cut from the royal house and line of succession. They were still considered members of the royal family, and bore the honorific titles of Prince and Princess of Orange-Nassau.
After the affair, the prince seemed relieved at the certainty he would never be called upon to assume the throne. "I am planning to remain available for my mother or brother if it's needed, for supporting roles," he said.
After his studies, he worked in consulting and later became a vice president at Goldman Sachs in London. At the time of the accident, he was working as CFO of uranium enrichment company Urenco.
Although he did not have an image as a risk-taker, the skiing accident - off piste despite avalanche warnings - was not an entirely isolated incident. He was also once stopped while driving at 120 mph.
One of his most sympathetic moments in the public eye came shortly after the death of his father, Prince Claus. It fell to him to escort his mother at the funeral ceremony. He supported her in a long, stately walk to her seat as she leaned heavily on his arm, deep in grief.
In a lighter vein, the prince was considered very handsome as a young man, but he was not known to have had any girlfriends. The Dutch gay community became convinced he was homosexual. He turned a blind eye in amusement as Friso-themed parties became a nightlife fixture.
But after mainstream publications began speculating as to whether he might come out of the closet, he had the Royal Information Service put out a one-line statement in 2001: "Johan Friso is not homosexual, but heterosexual."
The move was mocked by some and others remained unconvinced. His relationship with Ms Wisse Smit was announced the following year.
In addition to the royal family, the prince is survived by his wife and two daughters, Luana and Zaria.
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