Prince Johan Friso, the Dutch royal who has been in a coma since a skiing accident in February 2012, has been released from a London hospital and taken back to a palace in The Hague.
The 44-year-old no longer requires hospital treatment even though he remains in a state of “minimal consciousness.”
The father-of-two was receiving treatment at The Wellington hospital after being caught in an avalanche in Austria. Queen Beatrix’s second son was trapped under the snow for 15 minutes and his brain was starved of oxygen while rescuers tried to locate him off-piste.
The House of Orange’s team of experts will tend to the prince in Huis ten Bosch palace and will investigate options for his long-term care in the Netherlands or Britain.
He was skiing in Lech in the Austrian Alps at the time – the resort where the Dutch royals traditionally take their winter break.
An avalanche struck, leaving the Dutch royal buried underneath a snow drift measuring 30m wide by 40m long. A beeper he was wearing allowed emergency workers to reach him quickly and airlift him to safety.
A childhood friend, who was with him at the time, escaped harm because he was wearing avalanche airbag – which inflates to keep skiiers at the top of a snowfall.
An MRI scan was performed shortly after the accident. It indicated the prince suffered large amounts of brain damage due to lack of oxygen. This also resulted in a heart attack.
The recent Dutch inauguration, which saw Prince Friso’s elder brother become King Willem-Alexander, was tinged with sadness due to his absence.
Speaking about this tragedy just before the inauguration, Willem-Alexander said: “All I can do is do my best on 30 April.”
Prince Friso has two daughters with his wife Mabel, Luana and Zaria. They were raising the girls in London at the time of the accident.
Until 2003, Friso, who has an MBA, worked in London as vice-president of investment bank Goldman Sachs International.
The royal then became Chief Financial Officer of Berkshire-based uranium company, URENCO, where he was working until tragedy struck.