DOWNTOWN — We're still not totally clear about why King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are visiting Chicago this week.
Never mind, we'll take any excuse for a Maxima sighting.
Though she may not be as familiar to Americans as, say, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Maxima's exuberant personality and outsized fashions have long made her a favorite among royal watchers. Time for the rest of us to play catch up.
Here are 10 essential facts about Max.
1. She isn't Dutch.
If Maxima doesn't sound like a particularly Dutch name, that's because the former Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Her 2001 engagement to then Crown Prince Willem-Alexander caused quite a stir in the Netherlands, not because Max wasn't a European noble — ever since the Charles and Di debacle, royals pretty much can marry whomever they want — but because her father, Jorge Zorreguieta, was a Cabinet minister under notorious Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. Awkward.
The controversy wasn't enough to keep the lovebirds apart, but it did cost the father of the bride an invite to his daughter's wedding. Max's mother also stayed home out of solidarity. A tango was played during the marriage ceremony as the new princess's consolation prize.
The royal couple on their wedding day in 2002. [Facebook/Queen Maxima of the Netherlands]
2. She's captain of the A-Team.
Max and Wax have three daughters: Catharina-Amalia, 11, first in line to the throne; Alexia, 9; and Ariane, 8. The trio are collectively known among royal watchers as the A-Team.
Wax and Max with the A-Team: Catharina-Amalia (from l.), Ariane and Alexia. [Facebook/Queen Maxima of the Netherlands]
3. She's not just a pretty face.
Maxima has a degree in economics and before marrying W-A, she held a number of high-level positions as an investment banker.
Her financial expertise has earned her an appointment as the U.N. secretary-general's special advocate for inclusive finance for development, in which she promotes universal access to credit. She serves a similar role as honorary chairwoman of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.
Patty Wetli is a 'royal geek' when it comes to kings and queens:
4. She's quadlingual.
If you happen to come across Max, feel free to greet her in English, Spanish, Dutch, or even French. We highly recommend wishing her a "good morning" in Dutch, just because it's actually pronounceable — "KHOO duh MORE khen" — if not spellable (Goedemorgen).
5. POTUS has a crush on her.
At least that's how the media called things when the two met up at a D-Day commemoration ceremony in 2014 and were seen sharing a couple of laughs. Or maybe the president was just hoping a few of Max's 78 percent approval points would rub off on him.
Maxima and President Obama share a laugh. [Getty Images/Chris Jackson]
6. She's no wallflower.
Over 6 feet tall in heels, Maxima is easy to spot in a crowd. On top of that, she never met a bold color, statement necklace or ginormously brimmed hat she didn't love. The results are occasionally chic, frequently Seussical, but always entertaining.
The many faces and fashions of Queen Maxima. [Facebook/Queen Maxima of the Netherlands; #5 Getty Images Entertainment/Pascal Le Segretain]
7. She has her own canal.
What do you get the woman who has everything? How about her own canal? Max was on hand to christen the new Maxima Canal in March, which seems a fitting tribute for the queen, who once took part in a two-kilometer charity swim of Amsterdam canals.
8. She'd make a great grand marshal for Chicago's Pride Parade.
Max was the first royal to attend an LGBT rights conference, and one of her first appearances after her installation as queen in 2013 was to attend an international gay rights summit in The Hague.
9. She's just like us — except not.
Royal houses across Europe have been challenged to become more "relatable." Wax and Max are often presented as a model of how a monarchy can and should adapt to remain relevant in the 21st century. But at the same time ... tiaras.
No matter how hard they try, royals are not like us. [Facebook/Queen Maxima of the Netherlands]
10. She might be an Avenger.
Exhibit A: She knows how to rock a cape.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at their inauguration in 2013 — the Dutch don't do coronations. [Getty Images Entertainment]
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