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Sunday, 6 October, 2002, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Dutch prince consort dies
Prince Claus
The prince was a former German diplomat
Prince Claus von Amsberg, the husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, has died in hospital aged 76, the government has announced.

The prince consort, who was born in Germany, had been in and out of intensive care for several months with respiratory and heart problems.

No cause of death was given in the government statement.

It said the prince had died at 1900 local time (1700GMT) in an Amsterdam hospital.

Prince Claus - a former German diplomat - underwent an operation in May last year to remove a failing left kidney.

In 1991 he was diagnosed with a mild form of the degenerative brain disorder, Parkinson's disease.

Popularity grew

He overcame strong protest when he married the then Princess Beatrix in 1966 in a country still sensitive to its occupation by Germany in World War II.

But the couple gained popularity, especially when they produced the first male heir to the Dutch throne in nearly a century.

As well as Prince Willem-Alexander, the couple had two more sons, Prince Johan Friso and Prince Constantijn.

All three were at their father's bedside when he died, Dutch television reported.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced but it will be the first royal funeral in the Netherlands since the death of Queen Beatrix's grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, who died in 1962.

Her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated in 1980.

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The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"Tributes and condolences have poured in"
See also:

23 Jan 02 | Europe
09 Apr 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
17 Jun 02 | Europe
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