January 29, 1964
Princess Irene, second daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, has become a Roman Catholic, according to an announcement made today by the palace.
The New York Times reports that the "disclosure of Princess Irene's decision caused a sensation" in the Netherlands, where "the House of Orange, which has reigned for more than three centuries, is traditionally Protestant."
The 24-year-old Princess is second in line to the Dutch throne after her sister, Crown Princess Beatrix. She was until recently a member of the Dutch reformed church, as are "other members of the royal family."
In a statement released by Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, said that "after long consideration the Princess had concluded she preferred Catholicism."
Although the date of her conversion was not announced, it is understood to have taken place last September.
This announcement has given "new impetus to Dutch press reports" that Princess Irene, currently on vacation in Spain, is about to announce her engagement to to a 25-year-old Spanish nobleman Don Juan Bosco Alvear, a Roman Catholic.
The reports have been "denied" by the Princess and by Don Juan's family.
The Dutch constitution "bars a prince or princess from succession" if he or she "marries without the approval of both houses of Parliament."