Dutch joy as Crown Prince marries

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has married an Argentine economist.

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has married an Argentine economist.

In a ceremony witnessed by a gallery of kings, queens, dukes and counts, the heir to the Dutch throne exchanged vows with Maxima Zorreguieta, in a civil ceremony.

Maxima dabbed tears from her eyes after saying "Ja" to accepting the prince as her husband.

Britain's Prince Charles attended the wedding, without Camilla Parker Bowles or his sons William and Harry.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela were also among the guests.

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen warned the new Princess of the Netherlands that she would be "living in a glass house", and said the couple would have to find a balance between private and public life.

Using a well known government slogan encouraging women to work, he referred to the bride as "a clever girl who prepares for her future", and urged her to find use of her business talents to help the nation.

Queen Beatrix, in a deep purple dress and matching hat, grinned and applauded the marriage of her son, the eldest of three.

Though the ceremony was devoid of religion, the newlyweds immediately left for the 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk next to the Royal Palace, where they were to stand before a Dutch Reformed minister and a Catholic priest to have their marriage blessed.

Thousands of spectators cheered and waved Dutch flags as the couple arrived at the Beurs van Berlage, the disused trading exchange, where the civil ceremony took place.

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