THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander vowed on Wednesday to be an approachable, 21st century monarch, insisting in a wide-ranging interview less than two weeks before becoming king that he is not a "protocol fetishist".
Now still known as the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander, 45, will be enthroned on April 30 as the first Dutch king in more than a century, following in the footsteps of his mother, reigning Queen Beatrix, 75.
He said in the interview that he would uphold the 200-year-old Dutch monarchy but would be prepared to accept a ceremonial role, if that's what parliament decided.
"I will first and foremost be a traditional king, building on the tradition of my ancestors, who stand for continuity and for stability in the nation," Willem-Alexander said in the prime-time interview, broadcast on Dutch national television.
He stressed he wanted to "be a king that can bring society together, representative and encouraging in the 21st century".
But the monarchy must bend to society's will, he said, and he would accept any role parliament decided to give him, amid controversy over his 850,000-euro (S$1.4 million) salary.
"If the legal process is followed democratically and according to the constitutional rules, I'll accept everything. I have absolutely no problem with that. That's why I'm king. And if my signature is needed on it, then I'll sign."
Interviewed by two presenters on the NOS national broadcaster, the future king, who has been accused of having a boozy youth, admitted that he makes mistakes, including over the construction of a sumptuous beach villa on the Mozambican coast in 2007, which he and his wife were forced to sell two years later amid a storm of public criticism.
"But OK, we are people. People make mistakes. I will make mistakes in the future. It's not that bad," Willem Alexander said, flanked by his popular Argentinian wife Maxima, who is to become queen.
"If you make mistakes you must learn from them and you have to ensure that they don't happen again," he said in the 50-minute interview, recorded on April 5 at one of the royal palaces in The Hague.
Asked about her father's absence from the inauguration ceremony - another contentious point that overshadowed the royal couple's wedding in 2002, Maxima said her family decided that her father would not attend.
"We decided together... This is a constitutional event, when my husband becomes king and my father doesn't belong there, especially if there are issues," Maxima said. "He remains my father, we still enjoy our private moments." Jorge Zorreguieta was a junior agriculture minister under the notorious Argentine regime of general Jorge Videla in the 1970s.
Amid popular outcry in the politically correct Netherlands, Maxima's father was told he could not attend his daughter's wedding in Amsterdam, and her mother also stayed away out of solidarity.
Willem-Alexander defended his mother, who was known to want people call her "majesty", but said that his reign would nevertheless be different.
"I'm no protocol fetishist. People can address me as they wish because then they can feel comfortable," he said.