Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, is in a critical condition after being hit by an avalanche while on a skiing holiday in Lech, western Austria.
According to Austrian officials, Prince Johan Friso was buried under the snow for about 15 minutes before being rescued.
Prince Johan Friso, 43, was resuscitated at the scene and taken to hospital in Innsbruck – the Dutch government said he was stable but “not out of danger”.
Several members of the Dutch royal family had been on holiday together in the resort of Lech, in the Austrian Alps.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that the queen was there but had not been involved in the incident.
Stefan Jochum, a spokesman for the ski resort, said Prince Johan Friso had been skiing with a small group off the marked pistes when the avalanche hit shortly after midday local time. No-one else was injured, he said.
The Austria Press Agency quoted Lech’s mayor, Ludwig Muxel, as saying the prince had been buried by an avalanche measuring about 30 m wide by 40 m long.
The Dutch government said Prince Johan Friso’s condition was stable but that he was “not out of danger”. An earlier statement said he was in intensive care and that his life was “at risk”.
The statement said Queen Beatrix and Princess Mabel, prince’s wife, were with him but that it would be several days before a full prognosis could be given.
The Austrian Alps have been hit by particularly heavy snow this winter and numerous avalanches. Parts of Voralberg were cut off by the snow this week and an avalanche warning was in place around Lech.
Several people have been killed across Europe this year in avalanches.
Prince Johan Friso gave up his rights to the Dutch throne in 2004, when he married human rights activist Mabel Wisse Smit.
Holland’s government had refused to give its support to the marriage, because the couple had given misleading information about the bride’s relationship with a dead gangster.
Under Dutch law, royals who aspire to the throne must receive permission from the government and parliament to marry as the cabinet will bear responsibility for their actions.
Prince Johan Friso and Princess Mabel have two young daughters, Luana and Zaria.