Heir to the Dutch throne forced to stay at home despite safety fears

THE HAGUE (AP) — The teenage heiress to the Dutch throne has been forced to abandon student life in Amsterdam and instead live in her parents’ palace, the latest indication of the threat organized crime poses to Dutch society.

Queen Maxima said her eldest daughter, Amalia, ‘cannot leave the house’ and it has ‘huge consequences for her life’.

A visibly emotional Maxima said at the end of a state visit to Sweden on Thursday that the 18-year-old princess « doesn’t live in Amsterdam and can’t really go out. » She said that despite security concerns, the princess was continuing her studies.

The queen’s words offered a rare insight into the sense of unease felt by the royal household. It is also indicative of the fear shared by Dutch people and others across Europe that criminal gangs involved in the lucrative drug trade are stoking. The Dutch justice minister hosted a meeting last week where six nations pledged to step up cooperation in the fight against organized crime.

The meeting came after security around Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne was tightened following the arrest of four Dutch nationals in the Netherlands suspected of plotting to kidnap him.

Belgium and the Netherlands are home to the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, two key hubs for networks smuggling huge quantities of cocaine to Europe.

Another example highlighting the seriousness of the threat from gangs was the decision this week by Dutch prosecutors to add terrorism to the charges against a suspect in the murder of popular journalist Peter R. de Vries, who was shot dead l ‘last year. Prosecutors said the suspect posted a grisly video he recorded of De Vries after he was shot on a street in downtown Amsterdam on social media to amplify the impact.

Amalia, 18, is studying politics, psychology, law and economics at the University of Amsterdam and was supposed to live in a house with other students in the heart of the city’s historic canal system.

Instead, she is still at home in nearby The Hague, her mother said. « She doesn’t have a student life, » Maxima said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is also believed to have had his personal security boosted amid threats, called it « terrible news » for Amalia.

“I can’t say anything about threats and security measures. I can assure you that everyone in government who is aware of this and involved is doing everything they can to ensure she is safe,” he told reporters in The Hague.

Dutch daily De Telegraaf reported last month that security for Amalia and Rutte had been tightened over fears of criminal plots targeting them. Police and intelligence officials declined to comment on the report.

Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius tweeted that « measures have been taken around the safety of the Crown Princess », but said she could not elaborate on « concrete threats or security measures specific ».

“It is terrible that this is necessary. Especially for the Crown Princess herself,” she added.

Mike Corder, Associated Press


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