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Juliana of the Netherlands

Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, (born April 30, 1909) is the former Queen of the Netherlands.

Queen Juliana

She was born in The Hague, the daughter of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik. Juliana spent her childhood at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, and at Noordeinde Palace and Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague. A small class was formed at Huis ten Bosch Palace on the advice of the educator Jan Ligthart so that, from the age of six, the princess could receive her primary education with children of her own age.

As the Dutch constitution specified that she should be ready to succeed to the throne by the age of eighteen, Princess Juliana's education proceeded at a faster pace than that of most children. After five years of primary education, the Princess received her secondary education (to pre-university level) from private tutors.

On April 30, 1927, Princess Juliana celebrated her eighteenth birthday. Under the constitution, she had officially come of age and was entitled to assume the royal prerogative, if necessary. Two days later her mother installed her in the 'Raad van State' (=Council of State). A shy introvert, and a young woman of plain features whose religious mother would not allow her to wear makeup, Juliana did not fit the image of a regal Princess. She would, nonetheless, become much loved and respected by the Dutch people.

In the same year, the princess enrolled as a student at the University of Leiden. In her first years at university, she attended lectures in sociology, jurisprudence, economics, history of religion, parliamentary history and constitutional law. In the course of her studies she also attended lectures on the cultures of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles, the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, international affairs, international law, history, and European law. As well, she was tutored privately by Professor C. Snouck Hurgonje on the Islamic faith practiced by the people of her Dutch East Indies.

In line with the views of the times, Queen Wilhelmina began a search for a suitable husband for her daughter. After meeting His Serene Highness Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld at the 1936 Winter Olympic Games in Bavaria, Princess Juliana's Royal engagement was organized by her mother. In a legal document that spelled out exactly what the German Prince could and could not do, and the amount of money he could expect from the sole heir to the fortune of the world's wealthiest woman, the astute Queen Wilhelmina left nothing to chance. Duly signed, the happy couple's engagement was announced on September 8, 1936.

The wedding announcement divided a country that mistrusted Germany under Adolf Hitler. Prior to the wedding, on November 24, 1936, Prince Bernhard was granted Dutch citizenship and was obliged to change the spelling of his names from German to Dutch. They married on January 7, 1937, the date on which Princess Juliana's grandparents, King William III and Queen Emma, had married fifty-eight years earlier. The civil ceremony was held in The Hague Town Hall and the marriage was blessed in the Great Church (St. Jacobskerk), likewise in The Hague. The young couple made their home at Soestdijk Palace, Baarn.

The European political climate was already extremely tense from the growing threat of Nazi Germany and this was added to in the Netherlands when Hitler hinted that the Royal marriage was a sign of an alliance between the Netherlands and Germany. An angry Queen Wilhelmina quickly made a public denunciation of Hitler's remark but the incident caused further resentment over Juliana's choice for a husband. Further revelations of Prince Bernhard's past conduct added to the growing resentment amongst many of the Dutch people but after the German invasion on May 10, 1940, his actions would do a great deal to change public opinion to his favour.

The war, and German occupation of the Netherlands, forced the Prince and Princess and their two daughters to leave the Netherlands for the United Kingdom; the Princess remained there for a month before taking the children to the capital of Canada, where she lived in Rockcliffe, an Ottawa, Ontario suburb.

Juliana quickly endeared herself to the Canadian people, displaying a simple warmth, asking that she and her children be treated as just another family during difficult times. In the city of Ottawa, where few people recognized her, Princess Juliana sent her two daughters to public school, did her own grocery buying and shopped at Woolworth's Department Store. She enjoyed going to the movies and often would stand innocuously in the lineup to purchase her ticket. When her next door neighbor was about to give birth, the Princess of the Netherlands offered to baby-sit the woman's other children.

When her third child Margriet was born, the Parliament of Canada passed a special law declaring as extraterritorial Princess Juliana's rooms at the Ottawa Civic Hospital so that the infant would have exclusively Dutch, and not dual, nationality. The Canadian government flew the Dutch tricolor flag on parliament's Peace Tower while its carillon rang out with Dutch music at the news of Princess Margriet's birth. Prince Bernhard, who had remained in London with Queen Wilhelmina and members of the Dutch government, was able to visit his family in Canada and to be there for Margriet's birth.

Four daughters were born to Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard:

  1. Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard nicknamed "Trix", born on January 31, 1938 at Soestdijk Palace;
  2. Irene Emma Elisabeth, born August 5, 1939 at Soestdijk Palace;
  3. Margriet Francisca born January 19, 1943 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
  4. Marijke Christina, born February 18, 1947 at Soestdijk Palace.

Princess Juliana's genuine warmth and the gestures of her Canadian hosts created a lasting bond which was reinforced when Canadian soldiers fought and died by the thousands in 1944 and 1945 to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazis. On May 2, 1945 she returned by a military transport plane with Queen Wilhelmina to the liberated part of the Netherlands, rushing to Breda to set up a temporary Dutch government. At home though, she expressed her gratitude to Canada by sending the city of Ottawa 100,000 tulip bulbs. The following year (1946), Juliana donated another 20,500 bulbs, with the request that a portion of these be planted at the grounds of the Ottawa Civic Hospital where she had given birth to Margriet. At the same time, she promised Ottawa an annual gift of tulips during her lifetime to show her lasting appreciation for Canada's war-time hospitality.

On August 2, 1945 Princess Juliana was reunited with her family on Dutch soil. Soon though, their austere father was convinced his children's manners had been thoroughly corrupted from their time in Canada. At their first family dinner at Soestdijk Palace, two-year-old Margriet beat a spoon on her plate, Irene sat with a comfortable leg curled under herself, and the seven-year-old future Queen Beatrix, who had already expressed the desire to return to Canada, talked incessantly with food in her mouth, complaining that she didn't like her Dutch meal and wanted Canadian steak and ice cream like her mother had given them in Ottawa. The manner in which the children would be raised was a matter of disagreement between Princess Juliana and her husband. She believed that the days of an aloof, near isolated monarchy were over, and that the royal children should interact as much as possible with average citizens.

Juliana immediately took part in a post-war relief operation for the people in the northern part of the country, where the Nazi-caused famine and their continued torturing and murdering of the previous winter had claimed many victims. She was very active as the president of the Dutch Red Cross and worked closely with the National Reconstruction organization. Her down to earth manner endeared her to her people so much so that a majority of the Dutch people would soon want Queen Wilhelmina to abdicate in favour of her daughter. In the spring of 1946 Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard visited the countries that had helped the Netherlands during the occupation.
Queen Juliana and Marijke

Princess Juliana contracted German measles during her pregnancy for her last child, Marijke Christina. The girl was born in 1947 with cataracts on both eyes and was soon diagnosed as near totally blind in one eye and severely limited in the other. Despite her blindness, Christina as she was called, was a happy and gifted child with a talent for languages and, something long missing in the Dutch royal family, an ear for music. Over time, and with advances in medical technologies, her eyesight did improve a great deal to where, with thick glasses, she could attend school and even ride her bicycle. However, before that happened, her mother, the Princess, clinging to any thread that offered some hope for a cure, came under the spell of Greet Hofmans. A sham faith-healer who also believed in aliens on earth, the influence of Ms. Hofmans on Juliana's political views would almost bring down the House of Orange.

For several weeks in the autumn of 1947 and again in 1948 the Princess acted as Regent when, for health reasons, Queen Wilhelmina was unable to perform her duties. The revolt in the East Indies that saw more than 150,000 Dutch troops stationed there to quell the uprising, was seen as an economic disaster for the Netherlands. With the certain loss of the prized colony, the Queen announced her intention to abdicate. On September 6, 1948, with the eye of the world upon her, Princess Juliana, the twelfth member of the House of Orange to rule the Netherlands, was inaugurated Queen in the New Church in Amsterdam.

Her daughter's blindness and the increasing influence of Greet Hofmans, who had moved into a royal palace, severely affected the Queen's marital relationship. On December 27, 1949 at Dam Palace in Amsterdam, Queen Juliana signed the papers that relinquished the Netherlands centuries old control over the East Indies. Over the next few years, the controversy surrounding the faith healer, at first kept out of the Dutch media, erupted into a national debate over the competency of the Queen. The people of the Netherlands watched as their Queen often appeared in public dressed like any ordinary Dutch woman. Like her mother had out of necessity, Queen Juliana began riding a bicycle for exercise and fresh air. She began visiting with the citizens of the nearby towns and, unannounced, would drop in on social institutions and schools. Her refreshingly straightforward manner and talk made her a powerful public speaker. On the international stage, Queen Juliana was particularly interested in the problems of developing countries, the refugee problem, and had a very special interest in child welfare, particularly in the developing countries. The New York Times called her "an unpretentious woman of good sense and great goodwill."

On the night of January 31, 1953, the Netherlands was hit by the most destructive storm in more than five hundred years. Thirty breaches of the sea walls occurred and many towns were swept away by twelve-foot tidal waves. More than two thousand people drowned and tens of thousands were trapped by the floodwaters. Dressed in boots and an old coat, Queen Juliana waded through water and slopped through deep mud all over the devastated areas to bring desperate people food and clothing. Showing compassion and concern, reassuring the people, her tireless efforts would permanently endear her to the citizens of the Netherlands.

In 1963 Queen Juliana faced another crisis with her people when her daughter Irene converted to Catholicism and married on April 29, 1964, without approval, Prince Carlos Hugo de Bourbon-Parma, Duke of Parma, a claimant to the Spanish throne who was also a leader of Spain's fascist party. With memories of fascist German oppression still fresh in the minds of the Dutch people, the events leading to the marriage were played out in all the newspapers and a storm of hostility erupted against the monarchy for allowing it to happen -- a matter so serious, the Queen's abdication became a real possibility but she survived it because of the underlying devotion she had earned over the years.

But crisis, as a result of marriage, would come again with the announcement in July, 1965 of the engagement of Princess Beatrix, heir to the throne, to a German diplomat, Claus von Amsberg. The future husband of the future Queen had been a member of the Nazi Wehrmacht and organisations such as the Hitler Youth movement. Many angry Dutch citizens demonstrated in the streets, and held rallies and marches against the "traitorous" affair. While this time upset citizens did not call for the Queen's abdication because the true object of their wrath, Princess Beatrix, would then be Queen, they did start to question the value of having a monarchy at all. After attempting to have the marriage cancelled, Queen Juliana acquiesced and the marriage took place under a continued storm of protest and an almost certain attitude pervaded the country that Princess Beatrix might be the last member of the House of Orange to ever reign in the Netherlands. Despite all these difficult matters, Queen Juliana's personal popularity suffered only temporarily.

An event in April, 1967 brought an overnight revitalization of the Royal family when the first male heir to the Dutch throne in 116 years, Willem-Alexander, was born to Princess Beatrix. This time the demonstrations in the street were ones of love and enthusiasm. This joyful occasion was helped along by an ever-improving Dutch economy but scandal rocked the Royal family again in 1976 when it was revealed that Prince Bernhard had accepted a $1.1 million bribe from U.S. aircraft manufacturer, Lockheed Corporation to influence the Dutch government's purchase of fighter aircraft.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands ordered an inquiry into the affair while Prince Bernhard was refusing to answer reporters' questions, stating: "I am above such things." This time, the Dutch people rather than calling on the Queen to abdicate, were fearful their beloved Juliana might do it on her own out of shame. On August 26, 1976 a toned down, but devastating report on Prince Bernhard's activities was released to a shocked Dutch public. The Prince resigned his various high profile positions in many businesses, charities, and other institutions and in return, the States-General voted against criminal prosecution. Over time, the Royal family would work hard to rehabilitate the Prince's name.

On her Silver Jubilee in 1973, Queen Juliana donated all of the money that had been raised by the National Silver Jubilee Committee to organisations for children in need throughout the world. She donated the gift from the nation which she received on her seventieth birthday to the "International Year of the Child."

On April 30, 1980, the day of her 71st birthday, Queen Juliana signed the Act of Abdication and her daughter succeeded her as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Juliana remained active in numerous charitable affairs until well into her eighties. In the last few years Juliana has suffered from Alzheimer's disease or a related form of dementia. She has not appeared in public since then.

Preceded by:
List of Kings and Queens of the Netherlands Succeeded by: