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Royal Web chat freezes screens

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Dutch crown prince and his Argentinian fiancee had to abandon an online chat after receiving three billion hits in the first minute.

The surprising level of interest in next week's royal wedding plans froze computer screens worldwide.

Officials accused hackers of sabotaging a network that was not prepared to hear from half the population of the planet.

Network operator KPN told that it had only expected "tens of thousands" of callers to log onto the live Internet chat with Prince Willem-Alexander and Maxima Zorreguieta.

"Seeing that we registered three billion calls, we reckon there may have been a deliberate attack," KPN spokesman Bram Oudshoorn said on Wednesday.

The Dutch government had selected 100 people to chat online with the royal couple about their February 2 wedding while others were permitted to log on and watch the exchange.

But screens across the Netherlands froze within a minute.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the breach or if it was intended as a political protest.

The prince's relationship sparked controversy last year when it emerged that Zorreguieta's father had been a civilian minister in the 1976-1983 Argentinian military dictatorship.

But indications subsquently were that the Dutch people have since warmed to his bride-to-be.




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