Dutch prince 'still not out of danger'

2012-02-18 14:25

The Hague - Prince Johan Friso, son of Dutch Queen Beatrix has spent a "calm night" in an Austrian hospital, but was still not out of danger Saturday after being seriously injured in an avalanche while skiing.

Austrian prosecutors added they have launched a probe into Friday's accident in the western Austrian ski resort of Lech in which the 43-year-old prince was seriously injured.

"He is still not out of danger, but spent a calm and stable night," in the intensive care unit at Innsbruck University Hospital, the Dutch Royal House said in a statement, issued in The Hague.

Prince Friso was skiing off piste with an unnamed Austrian friend, according to varying Austrian media reports a 42-year-old hotel director, around noon on Friday when the accident happened near Lech where the Dutch royal family traditionally take their winter holidays.

Despite wearing a ski-helmet and an avalanche beeper, the prince nevertheless spent some 20 minutes under the snow before he was rescued and had to be resuscitated, Austrian news reports said. He was evacuated to Innsbruck by helicopter.

"The doctors who are treating him said there was no change in his situation," the statement added, but did not give details about his injuries. Doctors would only be able to make a prognosis "within a few days," it said Friday.

Queen Beatrix, 74, as well as the prince's wife Mabel Wisse Smit were joined on Friday night by other members of the Dutch royal family including Johan Friso's brothers, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, his wife Maxima, and younger brother Prince Constantijn with his wife Princess Laurentien.

The Dutch royals regularly spend their ski holidays in the posh resort of Lech, in the westernmost province of Vorarlberg.

Meanwhile Austrian prosecutors announced they would investigate the accident.

Prosecutors, who already began gathering information on Friday, will examine among other things who or what set off the avalanche, but Austrian police added the probe was carried out in every accident of this kind.

At the time of the accident, the avalanche level in Lech - as in much of Austria - was at four, the second highest.

The accident dominated headlines in the Dutch media on Saturday.

"Friso's condition critical," wrote the left-leaning daily De Volkskrant, saying he was being kept in a coma in hospital.

"Friso is a very experienced skier and knows the area around Lech very well," the paper said, while columnist Bert Wagendorp in the same paper wrote: "I am not a supporter of the Royal Dutch House nor have any interest in avalanches."

"But yet I phoned people to ask if they heard what happened, proof that this type of news impacts on you. I bet he's going to beat the avalanche."

"Fear of Friso's fate" the Christian daily Trouw said, adding that Friso as "the Queen's favourite son, liked fast cars, golf, travel and diving. The type of man willing to take risks outside clearly marked pistes".

The prince is the second son of Queen Beatrix. After he married in 2004 without the government's permission, he was excluded from the royal family and is no longer seen as an heir to the throne, but he has kept the title Prince of Orange-Nassau.

Johan Friso has been chief financial director of Britain's Urenco group - dealing with nuclear fuel supply - since 2011, and previously worked with the investment bank Goldman Sachs.

He also holds a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Delft and in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, according to his biography on Urenco's website.

Read more on:    queen beatrix  |  the netherlands  |  austria

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