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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) – Dutch prince Friso, who excluded himself from the line of succession in the name of love, was to be buried on Friday after he died from injuries sustained in a 2012 skiing accident.
Friso was to be laid to rest in a private ceremony attended by his widow Mabel and their two daughters Luana, 8, and Zaria, 7 amid tight security in the hamlet of Lage Vuursche, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.
The ceremony was also to be attended by Friso's godfather, Norway's King Harald V, Friso's brothers King Willem-Alexander and Prince Constantijn, their mother Beatrix, who abdicated as queen in April, and a few dozen friends and family members.
Friso's friend Florian Moosbrugger, who survived the avalanche near the upmarket Austrian resort of Lech that left the prince comatose and brain-damaged in Feburary 2012, was also at the ceremony.
The small Stulpkerk church is a stone's throw from Beatrix's Drakenstyn Castle, where Friso spent much of his childhood and to which Beatrix plans to retire later this year.
The family moved from the privately-owned castle to the Hague in 1981, when Beatrix became queen.
Friso, 44 when he died on Monday, is the first Dutch prince in generations not to be buried with other members of the House of Orange in the family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in the historic city of Delft, outside The Hague.
Dutch media have speculated that he is being buried at a different church because he gave up his claim to the throne as well as his Royal House position to marry Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004.
The government did not give the couple the required permission to marry after it emerged that his future wife had withheld details of her previous relationship with a Dutch drugs baron.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte nevertheless ordered flags on official buildings around the country to be flown at half-mast.
Police closed streets in the hamlet off to traffic and state television showed police sniffer dogs checking flowerpots for explosives.
Friso was an experienced skier but nevertheless ventured off-piste in Austria in 2012 with his friend Moosbrugger while the avalanche risk warning was at four on a scale of one to five.
His friend was unhurt, but Friso spent around 20 minutes under the snow with his brain deprived of oxygen before rescuers pulled him out.
Friso was in July transferred from a hospital in London, where he lived, to his mother's residence in The Hague.
A memorial ceremony will be held for Friso later in the year, the palace said.