Mabel Martine was born on 11 August 1968 in Pijnacker, Netherlands, and is the daughter of Hendrik Cornelis Los and Florence Malde Gijsberdina Kooman. When Mabel’s father died in 1978, Mabel and her sister, Nicoline, took the name of their stepfather, Peter Wisse Smit, who married their mother in 1984.
Mabel studied economics and political science at the University of Amsterdam, graduating summa cum laude in 1993. Mabel, fluent in English, Spanish and French, also completed internships at the United Nations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before specialising in Balkan diplomacy and international relations. Mabel was co-founder of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans in 1994, a non-governmental organisation striving for peace, democracy and stability in the region, which had Simon Wiesenthal and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing among its members.
In 1995, Mabel was a co-founder of War Child Netherlands, and remained on the Trustee Board until 1999. Mabel was also appointed director of EU affairs of the Open Society Institute in Brussels, and worked in the London branch from 2002 to 2008 as the International Advocacy Director, helping to coordinate advocacy activities aimed at international policy change. The World Economic Forum in Switzerland counted her as one of the hundred “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” and she remains a member of the worldwide Forum of Young Global Leaders.
From July 2008, Mabel was the first CEO of The Elders, a group of leading individuals convened by Nelson Mandela to use their wisdom, leadership and experience to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. Mabel resigned from The Elders in May 2012 after her husband was caught in the avalanche which eventually led to his death, although she continues to be involved in an advisory capacity while sitting on the committee of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.
Mabel’s engagement to Prince Friso, the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was announced in June 2003 and it sparked immediate controversy as the Dutch Cabinet stated they would not be seeking permission from parliament and Friso would be losing his place in the line of succession. The Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, finally explained the whole issue had come about as Mabel had not fully disclosed the nature of her relationship with Klaas Bruinsma, a known Dutch drug baron, and the cabinet had felt this was a breach of trust. The couple had decided not to request permission and Friso was fully prepared to lose his place in the line of succession as a result.
Friso and Mabel were married on 24 April 2004 in Delft and they went on to have two daughters: Luana, born in March 2005, and Zaria, born in June 2006. By a royal decree, Friso was granted the surname van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg and the hereditary title Count of Orange-Nassau upon his marriage, which means his daughters are also Countesses of Orange-Nassau. Friso was also allowed to continue using the title Prince of Orange-Nassau and the style of Royal Highness as a courtesy.
On 17 February 2012, Friso was buried under an avalanche in Lech, Austria, where he suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. After spending some time at a hospital in Innsbruck, a comatose Friso was transferred to the Wellington Hospital, London, where he remained in a stable but serious condition. On 9 July 2013, it was announced Friso was in a minimally conscious state but it was uncertain whether he would ever make a full recovery and he was released to his family. On 12 August 2013, the Dutch royal family announced Friso had died in Huis ten Bosch due to complications from the accident and he was buried in a private ceremony in the hamlet of Lage Vuursche near Drakesteijn Castle.
House (birth): House of Orange-Nassau
Father: Hendrik Cornelis Los
Mother: Florence Malde Gijsberdina Kooman
Born: 11 August 1968
Spouse: Friso of Orange-Nassau
Born: 26 Mar 2005
Born: 18 Jun 2006