IT was a usually busy Saturday night in one of Ronda’s most popular restaurants.

As the noise levels were shifting up a gear in came the middle-aged couple, who had booked via their hotel.

Squeezed in among their fellow diners, they chose a typical range of local dishes before chatting and joking with the table next to them.

They put on no airs and graces and spoke a mixture of English and Spanish.

So, it came as a massive surprise for staff at Almocabar when they discovered the couple were the King and Queen of the Netherlands, no less.

King Willem-Alexander and Maxima had been on a 20th anniversary tour of the region, where they first met and fell in love in Sevilla.

“We were as surprised as everyone else – they came in incognito and booked a table through the hotel … we had no idea who they were,” owner of Almocabar, Monolo Arias told the Olive Press.

“They were just really friendly…she is Argentinian and spoke to me in Spanish, perfect Castellano, while I spoke to him in English.

“They ate wild grilled asparagus, fresh foie with berries, Rabo de Toro and roast lamb accompanied by a €150 vintage of Pago de Carraovejas,” continues Arias, a self-taught chef, whose restaurant has been a local dining secret for two decades.

He added they were ‘very normal’ and chatted easily with other diners, even later posing for photographs with staff.

“They were squeezed in like everyone else (it was actually quite uncomfortable as we were very busy that night) but they didn’t complain … they chatted to a couple of tables next to them in English – a British guy and his girlfriend from La Linea – and they never guessed they were royals.

“However, a Dutch couple sitting on a neighbouring table did a double take when they recognised them! They couldn’t believe it and came over later to say hello.”

The culmination of their trip, which also took in Cordoba, Jerez and Granada, found them staying in the Parador of Ronda at the weekend.

It was a romantic return for the couple, who first met during the April Fair in Sevilla in 1999 and married three years later on February 2, 2002, in Amsterdam. 

Marriage
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at their 2002 wedding. Photo: Cordon Press

At the time the marriage was controversial as Maxima’s father, Jorge Zorreguieta, had been a prominent member of the Argentinian military dictatorship. 

The couple have three daughters, the Princess of Orange, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane.

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