Prince marries Mabel in the unroyal wedding

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The Independent Online

Their romance sparked a scandal that plunged the Dutch monarchy into turmoil, and yesterday the world's royalty were conspicuously absent as Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands married alleged one-time gangster's moll Mabel Wisse Smit.

Their romance sparked a scandal that plunged the Dutch monarchy into turmoil, and yesterday the world's royalty were conspicuously absent as Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands married alleged one-time gangster's moll Mabel Wisse Smit.

In what the Dutch media described as a "B-rated" royal wedding, the 35-year-old Prince, Queen Beatrix's second son, stood beneath a portrait of his ancestor William of Orange at a civil ceremony at Delft Town Hall and threw away his rights of succession as third in line to the throne in order to marry Ms Wisse Smit.

They had considered marrying abroad, even Las Vegas, but realised that it would be unfair to their families and friends, Prince Johan Friso and his fiancée said during a televised interview earlier in the week.

Few representatives of other royal families - with the exception of the groom's godfather, King Harold of Norway and his wife Queen Sonia - were among the 1,400 guests at the civil and church ceremonies.

The Prince and his fiancée - a human rights campaigner and employee of George Soros, who was also present - shocked the nation last year when it was reported that they had misled the Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, over her relationship with drugs baron Klaas Bruinsma. It emerged that Ms Wisse Smit had spent nights on his yacht and was closer to him than previously thought; she had earlier claimed that she barely knew Bruinsma.

The Dutch parliament refused the Prince official permission to marry - necessary to protect his succession right - after the couple were forced to admit they had not revealed the full extent of Ms Wisse Smit's former relationship with Bruinsma, who was shot dead in Amsterdam in 1991.

Wearing a tiara from the House of Orange jewellery collection and a satin and silk gown, Ms Wisse Smit, 35, smiled as the Mayor of Delft spoke of the past difficulties. At the blessing in Delft's Oude Kerk, or Old Church, Reformed Protestant pastor Carel ter Linden said that "the Bruinsma affair has strengthened the couple's love for each other".

A crowd of 4,000 - fewer than expected - gathered on the route for a glimpse of the couple. There was no military fanfare, and apart from security, funded by the state, the bill for the wedding is to be paid by the royal family.

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