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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Dutch royalty denies billionaire status
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
Queen Beatrix: a mere multimillionaire
The Dutch royal family is insisting its personal fortune is 10 times less than previously thought.

Estimates from the Forbes rich list suggested that the House of Orange was one of the richest families in the world with a fortune of up to $2.5bn (1.5bn).

But Queen Beatrix's 92-year-old father, Prince Bernhard, wrote to Luisa Kroll, the editor of Forbes' billionaires list, to demand that they reduce their estimate of his family's wealth.

And, after being faxed a detailed account of shareholdings by the Prince, Forbes adjusted this year's estimate to just $250m.

Between Arafat and Castro

"It's the first time a Prince has called me up," Ms Kroll told BBC News Online, saying she was surprised but not shocked by the Prince's revelations.

That sum puts the House of Orange between Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro on the wealth ladder.

Ms Kroll said the Prince has proved convincingly that his family had never bought as many shares in Dutch bank ABN Amro as previously thought.

The Prince is reported to have first called Christopher Forbes, who is married to his German niece, to demand that his family's magazine stopped printing "bullshit exaggerations".

Ms Kroll said the Prince's concerns probably stemmed from worries over public perception and his family's safety.

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