Business as usual? How Europe's royals mix work and duties

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — (AP) — As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried, with varying degrees of success, to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families' traditional duties.

While many members of European royal families pursue careers, some of their experiences offer up a lesson for Harry and Meghan as they seek to disengage from the House of Windsor and move into the private sector: Don’t try to cash in on your royal connections.

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THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch King Willem-Alexander has a full-time job as his country’s monarch, but he still finds time to fly KLM passenger jets to rack up enough hours in the cockpit to keep his pilot’s license.

Willem-Alexander’s wife Maxima, an Argentine by birth, has plenty of royal duties but also acts as the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, promoting microcredit and other initiatives around the world.

But even the rock-steady Dutch royal family has hit turbulence in the past over business dealings. Willem-Alexander’s late grandfather, Prince Bernhard, resigned from official functions over his alleged role in a bribery scandal involving plane maker Lockheed. Former Lockheed vice chairman A. Carl Kotchian told a U.S. Senate hearing in 1976 that Bernhard had been given money in the early 1960s to promote the company's sales in the Netherlands.

A Dutch government panel concluded that the prince had solicited payments of between $4 million and $6 million, but found no conclusive evidence that he had actually received money, apart from $100,000 that Bernhard acknowledged and said he distributed as “Christmas presents.”

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BELGIUM

Prince Laurent, the brother of Belgium’s King Philippe, has long struggled with his royal role and obligations that come with his annual taxpayer-funded endowment.

In an emotional 2018 letter, Laurent wrote that since his youth “my existence was at the service of my brother, my family and the state. I could not work as I pleased or develop projects which could have given me some independence."

The letter didn't prevent the Belgian House of Representatives docking his annual endowment of around 300,000 euros by 46,000 euros after he showed up at a Chinese diplomatic function in military uniform without the consent of the government.

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NORWAY

Princess Martha Louise, the oldest of King Harald’s children and fourth in line to the throne, gave up the "royal highness" part of her title in 2002 when she married Norwegian writer Ari Behn.

Martha renounced the title saying she wanted the freedom to pursue private interests, including running a cultural and arts business and appearing on television and in the theater.

After her divorce from her husband of 14 years, she and her new American boyfriend, Durek Verrett, organized seminars called "The Princess and the Shaman.”

However, after hefty criticism, she apologized and said she would drop her royal title in future work endeavors.

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SWEDEN

When Christopher O'Neill, a British-American, married Sweden’s Princess Madeleine in 2013, he declined a royal title so he could continue to work as a financier.

Madeleine — the youngest o f King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia's three children and fourth in line to the throne — performs royal duties and works with non-profit foundations.

He appears alongside the royal family at major occasions. The couple and their three children, who all have royal titles and are in direct line to the throne, have since moved to Florida.

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SPAIN

Members of Spain’s royal family hold down many honorary jobs, but only Princess Cristina and her now-imprisoned husband were known to be active in the private sector.

Cristina has worked for Spain’s Caixa bank foundation and the Aga Khan trust. But husband Iñaki Urdangarín, King Felipe VI’s brother-in-law, was convicted and sentenced in 2016 for using a non-profit institution he co-ran to embezzle about 6 million euros in public funds.

A court found that Urdangarin and his business partner exploited the duke’s privileged status to obtain public contracts related to sports events. In the midst of it all, Cristina and Urdangarín were removed as official royal family members. Cristina was acquitted of any criminal responsibility but her summons was a first for the then King Juan Carlos’ immediate family.

The probes seriously damaged the image of the king — once one of Spain’s most respected figures — and eroded Spaniards’ admiration for their royal family, especially as the investigations coincided with a severe economic crisis that widened the gap between rich and poor.

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UNITED KINGDOM

Closer to home for Harry and Meghan, British royals have in the past tried to pursue professional careers with varying degrees of success. Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, launched in 1993 a TV production firm called Ardent that failed in 2011 after years of mediocre performance. Many of its films dealt with the royal family and its history.

His wife, Sophie, tried to keep her established public relations firm going after she married Edward in 1999, but she was embarrassed two years later by an undercover reporter pretending to be a wealthy sheikh interested in doing business with her firm. In response, she hinted that the prospective client would get greater publicity because of her royal status.

Edward and Sophie have both concentrated on full-time royal duties in recent years rather than pursue private business interests.

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Associated Press writers Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Raf Casert in Brussels, Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Gregory Katz in London contributed.

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Follow full AP coverage at https://www.apnews.com/PrinceHarry

FILE - In this Monday Nov. 27, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle pose for photographers during a photocall in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
FILE - In this Monday Nov. 27, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle pose for photographers during a photocall in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File) (Matt Dunham)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 file photo, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima wave from the balcony of royal palace Noordeinde in The Hague, Netherlands. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. King Willem-Alexander has a full-time job as his country’s monarch but he still finds time to fly KLM passenger jets to rack up enough hours in the cockpit to keep his pilot’s license. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 file photo, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima wave from the balcony of royal palace Noordeinde in The Hague, Netherlands. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. King Willem-Alexander has a full-time job as his country’s monarch but he still finds time to fly KLM passenger jets to rack up enough hours in the cockpit to keep his pilot’s license. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File) (Peter Dejong)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 file photo, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is joined by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as she delivers remarks at a side event regarding financial inclusion for development during the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Willem-Alexander’s wife Maxima has plenty of royal duties but also acts as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 file photo, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is joined by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as she delivers remarks at a side event regarding financial inclusion for development during the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Willem-Alexander’s wife Maxima has plenty of royal duties but also acts as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File) (Jason DeCrow)
FILE - In this Monday, July 21, 2014 file photo, Belgium's Prince Laurent and his wife Claire watch a military parade on Belgian National Day, in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Prince Laurent, the brother of Belgium’s King Philippe, has long struggled with his royal role and obligations that come with his annual tax payer-funded endowment. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)
FILE - In this Monday, July 21, 2014 file photo, Belgium's Prince Laurent and his wife Claire watch a military parade on Belgian National Day, in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Prince Laurent, the brother of Belgium’s King Philippe, has long struggled with his royal role and obligations that come with his annual tax payer-funded endowment. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File) (Yves Logghe)
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 file photo, Norway's Princess Martha Louise during her exam race to become a licensed trotting driver, in Oslo. The Princess passed her exam. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Princess Martha Louise, the oldest of King Harald’s children and fourth in line to the throne, gave up the "royal highness" part of her title in 2002 when she married Norwegian writer Ari Behn. (Lise Aserud/NTB Scanpix via AP, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 file photo, Norway's Princess Martha Louise during her exam race to become a licensed trotting driver, in Oslo. The Princess passed her exam. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Princess Martha Louise, the oldest of King Harald’s children and fourth in line to the throne, gave up the "royal highness" part of her title in 2002 when she married Norwegian writer Ari Behn. (Lise Aserud/NTB Scanpix via AP, File) (Lise Aserud)
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015 file photo, Sweden's Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill pose with their son Prince Nicolas after his baptism ceremony, at the Drottningholm Palace Church, near Stockholm, Sweden. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. When Christopher O'Neill, a British-American, married Sweden’s king Princess Madeleine in 2013, he declined a royal title, so he could continue to work as a financier. (Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via AP, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015 file photo, Sweden's Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill pose with their son Prince Nicolas after his baptism ceremony, at the Drottningholm Palace Church, near Stockholm, Sweden. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. When Christopher O'Neill, a British-American, married Sweden’s king Princess Madeleine in 2013, he declined a royal title, so he could continue to work as a financier. (Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via AP, File) (Anders Wiklund)
FILE - In this May 22, 2006 file photo, Spain's King Juan Carlos, right, arrives with his daughter, Princess Cristina and her husband Inaki Urdangarin for the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona, Spain. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Members of Spain’s royal family hold down many honorary jobs but only Princess Cristina and her now-imprisoned husband were known to be active in the private sector. (AP Photo/Jasper Juinen, File)
FILE - In this May 22, 2006 file photo, Spain's King Juan Carlos, right, arrives with his daughter, Princess Cristina and her husband Inaki Urdangarin for the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona, Spain. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Members of Spain’s royal family hold down many honorary jobs but only Princess Cristina and her now-imprisoned husband were known to be active in the private sector. (AP Photo/Jasper Juinen, File) (Jasper Juinen)
FILE - In this Monday, June 18, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prince Edward, center, in his roles as Knight Companion and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, leave in a carriage after the Order of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1993 launched a TV production firm that failed in 2011, and his wife Sophie tried to keep her established public relations firm going after she married Edward in 1999. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File)
FILE - In this Monday, June 18, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prince Edward, center, in his roles as Knight Companion and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, leave in a carriage after the Order of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. As the British royal family wrestles with the future roles of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, it could look to Europe for examples of how princes and princesses have tried to carve out careers away from the pomp and ceremony of their families’ traditional duties. Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1993 launched a TV production firm that failed in 2011, and his wife Sophie tried to keep her established public relations firm going after she married Edward in 1999. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File) (Matt Dunham)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 file photo, Britain's Princess Anne talks to guests during a reception at Buckingham Palace, as NATO leaders gather to mark 70 years of the alliance, in London. The British royal family might be known for smiling and waving in fancy outfits, but they work just as hard as anyone else…right? According to official records, prominent members of the royal family worked on average 84.5 days, a third of the 253 working days in 2019. The Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, was the hardest working royal for the second year in a row, working a total of 167 days. (Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 file photo, Britain's Princess Anne talks to guests during a reception at Buckingham Palace, as NATO leaders gather to mark 70 years of the alliance, in London. The British royal family might be known for smiling and waving in fancy outfits, but they work just as hard as anyone else…right? According to official records, prominent members of the royal family worked on average 84.5 days, a third of the 253 working days in 2019. The Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, was the hardest working royal for the second year in a row, working a total of 167 days. (Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP, File) (Yui Mok)