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Dutch Royals to come back to Lech this year

The Dutch Royal family have said they will continue to have their winter holiday in Lech in Austria despite the accident that left Prince Johan Friso in a coma.

The Prince was buried in an avalance while skiing off piste with a friend.

But the Royal family have said that they still plan to come to Austria as before according to Lech Bürgermeister Ludwig Muxel.

He said the family themselves had informed him of their decision and he said he was sure they would talk about what had happened when they arrived.

Prince Friso, who is being treated at a London hospital following the ski accident in Lech, in Austria, has recently shown a slight improvement.

However, in a statement, the Dutch Royal House said 'it will take many months before there is more clarity' about the prince's chances of recovery.

It gave no further details, but urged the media 'to continue to respect the privacy of the family.'

Queen Beatrix's 44-year-old middle son, who gave up his right to the throne a decade ago, was skiing off-piste when he was caught in an avalanche.

The accident, in which the Prince was trapped under the snow for 25 minutes before he was pulled out unconscious, attracted considerable media attention at the time.

His doctors said his brain was starved of oxygen while he was buried which resulted in a cardiac arrest that lasted 50 minutes.

The accident occurred as Prince Friso was skiing with a childhood friend from the alpine village that the Dutch royal family had been visiting each winter for years.

The friend was carrying an avalanche 'air bag' and escaped without serious injury. Friso was found after 25 minutes with the help of a signaling device he was carrying and was flown by helicopter to an Innsbruck clinic.

Following the accident his condition was at first described as 'stable but life-threatening', and the queen and his wife came to be by his side.

Prince Friso, whose older brother is Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, asked for permission in 2003 to marry Mabel Wisse Smit, Dutch media published details of her relationship with mobster Klaas Bruinsma, who was shot and killed in 1991 in front of the Amsterdam Hilton hotel.

Following the revelations, the couple decided not to get official permission for their marriage.

The couple publicly acknowledged having been 'naive and incomplete' during her vetting process before joining the royal family. Then-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende signalled he could not recommend the marriage to parliament for approval.

They married anyway, a decision that meant Friso's removal from the line of succession.

The couple are still part of Beatrix's family and attend important royal functions.

Mabel has been granted the title 'Princess Mabel' and Friso has an array of noble titles, including 'Prince of Oranje-Nassau' - but not 'Prince of the Netherlands'.

Prince Friso most recently worked as financial director at Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment consortium.

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