Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Máxima are abandoning their project to build a holiday villa for themselves in Mozambique.
The move follows criticism in parliament about the handling of the affair by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who is formally responsible for public actions of the Dutch Royal family.
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The holiday home that is currently being built as a part of a luxury resort will be sold once it has been completed. Prince Willem-Alexander wrote to Prime Minister Balkenende that he no longer wants the real estate project to be surrounded by adverse publicity.
The prince wrote that he hoped his participation in the building project on the Mozambican peninsula of Machangulo would help the development of the local population. "But there is a risk now that the ongoing reporting in the media about our participation is overshadowing the favourable developments on the ground. As every mistake is focused on, the project is at a disadvantage."
In an apparent reference to the attention given to the case by MPs and the prime minister, the prince adds,
"Also, such a discussion costs time and effort that should be spent on other business instead."
The princely couple bought four plots of land in Mozambique in 2007, one of which was intended for their own holiday home. The project was controversial from the outset, both inside and outside parliament in The Hague. There were doubt whether the project would have the intended positive effects on the poor local population. The Mozambican government confirmed that it would.
Princess Máxima and Prince Willem-Alexander have emphasised that their commitment to the project will continue, even though they themselves will not be holidaying there. "Our involvement has raised expectations with the local population, which we consider ourselves bound to," they wrote to the prime minister.