Bloomberg News

Netherlands’ Prince May Never Regain Consciousness After Skiing Accident

February 24, 2012

Friso van Oranje, the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, suffered massive brain damage and may never regain consciousness following a skiing accident in Austria a week ago.

“At the moment, it can’t be predicted whether he’ll ever regain consciousness,” Wolfgang Koller, head of the trauma unit at the Innsbruck Medical University hospital, where the prince is being treated, told reporters today. “In any event, rehabilitation will take months, if not years.”

Friso, 43, was trapped in an avalanche on Feb. 17 while skiing off-piste at the western Austrian ski resort of Lech, where the Dutch royal family has spent winter vacations since 1959. He was buried for about 25 minutes before being rescued and transported by helicopter to Innsbruck, Koller said today.

“Due to the length of time he was covered under the snow, his brain was deprived of oxygen,” he said. “This led to cardiac arrest, which lasted about 50 minutes. The patient had to be reanimated during this entire period. Fifty minutes of reanimation is a very long time, one could say, too long.”

The family will now seek a suitable rehabilitation center, Koller said. Friso’s brothers Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Prince Constantijn and their families last week joined the Queen, Friso’s wife Princess Mabel and their two daughters, who were in Austria at the time of the accident.

‘Concern and Sorrow’

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the Queen and Princess Mabel by telephone that “the Netherlands is sympathizing intensely with the family in these times of concern and sorrow,” according to a statement.

Friso is not in the succession to the Dutch throne. He gave up his claim in 2003 by deciding to marry Mabel Wisse Smit without parliament’s permission. She had provided incomplete information to the government during a background check about her past relationship with the late Klaas Bruinsma, the former head of a Dutch criminal organization.

No longer a member of the Royal House and having given up his status as Prince of the Netherlands, Friso is still part of the royal family and retains the title of Prince of Oranje.

He joined Urenco Ltd., a London-based uranium enrichment company, as chief financial officer in January 2011. He previously was a managing director at Wolfensohn & Co. and had worked at McKinsey & Co. in Amsterdam and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)’s investment banking unit in London.

Friso studied engineering at the University of California at Berkeley from 1986 to 1988 and earned a degree in aerospace engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1994. He received a master’s in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 1995 and a master’s of business administration from the European Institute of Business Administration, or INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France, in 1997.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martijn van der Starre in Amsterdam at vanderstarre@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net


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