Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
The only child of King William III of the Netherlands
and Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont
, Wilhelmina ascended to the throne at the age of 10 after her father's death in 1890, under her mother's regency
. After taking charge of government, Wilhelmina was generally popular for maintaining Dutch neutrality during the First World War and solving many of her country's industrial problems. By that time, her business ventures made her the world's first female billionaire in dollars.
She ensured that her family
was one of seven European royal houses remaining in existence.
Following the German invasion of the Netherlands
in 1940, Wilhelmina fled to Britain and took charge of the Dutch government-in-exile
. She frequently spoke to the nation over radio and came to be regarded as a symbol of the resistance
By 1948, she had returned to the liberated Netherlands and was the only survivor of the 16 monarchs who were sitting on their thrones at the time of her coronation.
Increasingly beset by poor health, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana
in September 1948 and retired to Het Loo Palace
, where she died in 1962.
Queen Wilhelmina in the 1890s
Under the Semi-Salic
system of inheritance that was in place in the Netherlands until 1887, Wilhelmina was third in line to the throne from birth. Her father had had three sons with his first wife Sophie of Württemberg
, but two of them had died before Wilhelmina's birth. The only other surviving male relatives from the House of Orange were his uncle Frederick
, who died in 1881 when his daughter was one year old, and his third son Alexander
, who died before she turned four. By 1887, the 70-year-old King finally abandoned the 'hope of a son' with his young wife and made the pragmatic decision to settle the throne upon his only surviving child.
King William III died on 23 November 1890 and 10-year-old Wilhelmina became Queen of the Netherlands, though her mother was named regent
. In 1895, Wilhelmina visited Queen Victoria
of the United Kingdom, who penned an evaluation in her diary: "The young Queen ... still has her hair hanging loose. She is slender and graceful, and makes an impression as a very intelligent and very cute girl. She speaks good English and knows how to behave with charming manners."
On 6 September 1898, Wilhelmina was sworn-in
at the Nieuwe Kerk
She was well aware what was expected by the elected representatives, but was a strong-willed, forceful woman who spoke and acted her mind. She "hated" politicians and instead stated a love for the people. Reflecting popular opinion in the Netherlands at the time, Wilhelmina expressed a level of disdain towards the British for their annexations
of the Transvaal Republic
and the Orange Free State
in the Boer War
. The Boers
were descended from Dutch colonists who migrated to the region while it was a Dutch colony
, and the Dutch people, Wilhelmina included, felt a close level of affinity towards them. In one conversation with her former governess, the Briton Elisabeth Saxton Winter, Wilhelmina facetiously referred to the Boer commandos
as "excellent shots". During the war, Wilhelmina ordered the Dutch cruiser HNLMS Gelderland
to Portuguese East Africa
with the order to evacuate Paul Kruger
, the president of the South African Republic
Queen Wilhelmina and her daughter Juliana
, circa 1914
On 7 February 1901 in The Hague, Queen Wilhelmina married Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
. Although she was devoted to her spouse at the time of their wedding, it proved in the long run to be an unhappy marriage that did little more than meet its obligation by producing an heir. Prince Henry was known to have had numerous extra-marital affairs, at least one of which resulted in illegitimate offspring. On 9 November, nine months after her marriage, Wilhelmina suffered a miscarriage. On 4 May 1902, she gave birth to a premature stillborn
son. Her next pregnancy ended in another miscarriage on 23 July 1906.
During this time Wilhelmina's heir presumptive
was her first cousin once removed William Ernest, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
. Next in line was her cousin Marie Alexandrine of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
As it was assumed that the former would renounce his claim to the Dutch throne and that the latter was too elderly to become Queen, Marie Alexandrine's eldest son, German Prince Heinrich XXXII Reuss of Köstritz
, stood in line to succeed Wilhelmina if she had no surviving children. Prince Heinrich had close associations with the German Imperial family and military, so there were fears that were the Queen to remain childless, the Dutch Crown "was bound to pass into the possession of a German prince, whose birth, training, and affiliations would naturally have led him to bring Holland [sic] within the sphere of the German Empire, at the expense of its independence, both national and economic", according to one contemporary publication.
The birth of Princess Juliana
, on 30 April 1909, was met with great relief after eight years of childless marriage.
She formed a close relationship with her mother, who suffered two further miscarriages on 23 January and 20 October 1912.
World War I
Statue of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Amsterdam
Before the First World War started, Wilhelmina visited the powerful German Emperor Wilhelm II
. The Emperor thought he could impress the ruler of a relatively small country by telling her, "My guards are seven feet tall and yours are only shoulder-high to them." The Queen smiled politely and replied, "Quite true, Your Majesty, your guards are seven feet tall. But when we open our dikes
, the water is ten feet deep!"
She was very wary of a German attack, especially in the beginning. Partly due to her political influence, the Netherlands remained neutral during World War I
. However, the Allies
included the Netherlands in their blockade of Germany, intercepting all Dutch ships and severely restricting Dutch imports to ensure that goods
could not be passed on to Germany. Furthermore, the Russian revolution
by the Bolsheviks
in 1917 cost the Queen almost 20% of her financial assets
Being a woman, Wilhelmina could not be Supreme Commander, but still used every opportunity she had to inspect the Crown forces. She appeared without prior notice on many occasions to see reality instead of a prepared show. She wanted a small but well-trained and equipped army, and was very unhappy with most of her governments, which were always eager to cut the military budget
. In June 1917, Wilhelmina returned from a two-day visit to Zaltbommel
on the train that derailed at Houten
, but remained unharmed and helped to take care of the injured.
Civil unrest gripped the Netherlands after the war, spurred by the end of the Russian Empire. Instead of a violent revolution, Socialist leader Pieter Jelles Troelstra
wanted to abolish the existing government and the monarchy by winning control of Parliament
in an election with the support of the working class. However, Wilhelmina's popularity helped restore confidence in the government. She brought about a mass show of support by riding alongside her daughter through the crowds in an open carriage. At the end of World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm fled to the Netherlands, where he was granted political asylum
, partly owing to his familial links
with the royal family. In response to Allied efforts to get their hands on the deposed Kaiser, Wilhelmina called the Allies' ambassadors to her presence and lectured them on the rights of asylum.
Medal depicting Queen Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina had a keen understanding of business matters. She used her personal wealth inherited from her family to make several investments in the United States, which eventually made her the world's richest woman and first female billionaire in dollars
. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Netherlands began to emerge as an industrial
power with the help of the Queen's funds
. Engineers reclaimed vast amounts of land that had been under water by building the Zuiderzee Works
, the largest hydraulic
engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the 20th century. Its main purposes were to improve flood protection
and create additional land for agriculture.
In 1939, the government proposed a refugee camp near the city of Apeldoorn
for German Jews fleeing the Nazi
regime. However, Wilhelmina intervened because she felt the planned location was "too close" to the royal family's summer residence. If indeed spies were to be among the fugitives, they would be within walking distance of Het Loo Palace
. After long discussions, the camp was finally erected about 10 km from the village of Westerbork
Aside from economical and security matters, Queen Wilhelmina used most of the 1930s to find a suitable husband for Juliana. This was a difficult task since she was very religious and insisted that her daughter's husband would be a Protestant
of royal birth. Many prospects from the United Kingdom and Sweden either declined or were turned down by Juliana. Finally, mother and daughter found a suitable match in German Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
. Wilhelmina had her lawyers draft a very detailed prenuptial agreement
that specified exactly what her future son-in-law could and could not do.
World War II
Queen Wilhelmina in 1942
On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands
. Despite her hostility towards the British, the almost sixty-year-old Queen Wilhelmina and her family fled The Hague and boarded HMS Hereward
, a British destroyer sent by King George VI
to take them across the North Sea. There is an ongoing debate about the royal family's departure. Some say that an evacuation to the United Kingdom had been planned some time in advance, since at least the end of 1939.
Others say the Queen boarded the destroyer with the intent of going to the Dutch province of Zeeland
, which had not yet been conquered. However, along the journey, it became clear that due to advancing German forces, Zeeland was not safe either, forcing the destroyer to sail for the United Kingdom. In any case, she arrived in the United Kingdom on 13 May, planning to return to the Netherlands as soon as possible.
The Dutch armed forces
in the Netherlands, apart from those in Zeeland, surrendered on 15 May.
In Britain, Queen Wilhelmina took charge of the Dutch government in exile
, setting up a chain of command and immediately communicating a message to her people. Relations between the new Dutch government and the Queen were tense, with mutual dislike growing as the war progressed. She went on to be the most prominent figure, owing to her experience and knowledge, which earned her respect and support among the other leaders of the world. On the other hand, the new Dutch government did not have a parliament to back them and had few employees to assist them. The Dutch prime minister, Dirk Jan de Geer
, believed the Allies would not win and intended to open negotiations with Germany for a separate peace. Therefore, Wilhelmina sought to remove De Geer from power. With the aid of minister Pieter Gerbrandy
, she succeeded.
During the war, Queen Wilhelmina's photograph was a sign of resistance against the Germans. Like Winston Churchill
, Wilhelmina broadcast messages to the Dutch people over Radio Oranje
. She called Adolf Hitler
"the arch-enemy of mankind". Her late-night broadcasts were eagerly awaited by her people, who had to hide to listen to them illegally. An anecdote published in her New York Times
obituary illustrates how she was valued by her subjects during this period:
Although celebration of the Queen's birthday was forbidden by the Germans, it was commemorated nevertheless. When churchgoers in the small fishing town of Huizen
rose and sang one verse of the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassauwe,
on the Queen's birthday, the town paid a fine of 60,000 guilders.
The Queen speaking to the US Congress, 1942
Queen Wilhelmina visited the United States from 24 June to 11 August 1942 as a guest of the U.S. government. She vacationed in Lee, Massachusetts
and visited New York City, Boston, and Albany, New York. In the latter city, she attended the 300th anniversary celebration of the First Church in Albany
, established by Dutch settlers
in the 17th century. She addressed the U.S. Congress on 5 August 1942 and was the first queen to do so. Shortly afterwards, Wilhelmina went to Canada in 1943 to attend the christening of her new granddaughter Margriet
on 29 June 1943 in Ottawa
and stayed a while with her family before returning to the United Kingdom.
During the Operation Steinbock
, Queen Wilhelmina was almost killed by a bomb
that took the lives of several of her guards and severely damaged her residence near South Mimms
in England. In 1944, Wilhelmina became the first woman since the 15th century, other than Queens of the United Kingdom, to be inducted into the Order of the Garter
. Churchill described her as "the only real man among the governments-in-exile" in London.:146:193
In England, Queen Wilhelmina developed ideas about a new political and social life for the Dutch after the liberation, wanting to create a strong cabinet formed by people active in the resistance. She dismissed De Geer and installed a new prime minister with the approval of other Dutch politicians. When the Netherlands was liberated in 1945, the Queen was disappointed to see the same political factions taking power as before the war. In mid-March 1945, she travelled to the liberated areas of the southern Netherlands, visiting the region of Walcheren
and the city of Eindhoven
where she received a rapturous welcome from the local population.
On 2 May 1945, she came to stay in a small country estate called Anneville
located just south of Breda
with Juliana and adjuncts Peter Tazelaar
, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema
and fellow Engelandvaarder
Anneville was the scene of a number of processions where the residents of Breda and the surrounding communities came to greet their Queen. She remained there for a little over six weeks.
Collecting signatures for the queen, 1948
Following the end of World War II, Queen Wilhelmina made the decision not to return to her palace but to move into a mansion in The Hague, where she lived for eight months. She travelled through the countryside to motivate people, sometimes using a bicycle instead of a car. However, in 1947, while the country was still recovering, the revolt
in the oil-rich Dutch East Indies
saw the sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite.
Around the same time, Queen Wilhelmina's health started failing, forcing her to cede her monarchial duties to Princess Juliana temporarily towards the end of 1947 (14 October through 1 December). She considered abdication, but her daughter pressed her to stay on for the stability of the nation. Wilhelmina had every intention of doing so, but exhaustion forced her to relinquish monarchial duties to Juliana again on 12 May 1948, which left the Princess to deal with the early elections caused by the ceding of the Indonesian colonies
Dismayed by the return to pre-war politics and the pending loss of Indonesia, Wilhelmina abdicated on 4 September 1948 after a reign of 57 years and 286 days because of advancing age and illness. She passed the crown to Juliana and was thenceforward styled "Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands". Since then, the influence of the Dutch monarchy continued to decline but the country's love for its royal family continued.
No longer queen, Wilhelmina retreated to Het Loo Palace
, making few public appearances until the country was devastated by the North Sea flood of 1953
. Once again, she travelled around the country to encourage and motivate the Dutch people. During her last years, she wrote her autobiography, entitled Eenzaam, maar niet alleen
(Lonely but Not Alone
), in which she gave account of the events in her life and revealed her strong religious feelings.
Wilhelmina died of cardiac arrest in Het Loo Palace at the age of 82 on 28 November 1962. She was buried in the Dutch Royal Family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk
, on 8 December. At her request and contrary to protocol, the funeral was completely in white to give expression to her belief that earthly death was the beginning of eternal life.
According to German Salic law
, the House of Orange-Nassau-Dietz
became extinct upon her death, but this rule is not recognised by royal Dutch succession laws.
In popular culture
Titles, styles and honours
- 31 August 1880 – 21 June 1884: Her Royal Highness Princess Pauline of Orange-Nassau
- 21 June 1884 – 23 November 1890: Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau
- 23 November 1890 – 4 September 1948: Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau
- 4 September 1948 – 28 November 1962: Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Wilhelmina's full regnal title from her accession to her marriage was: "Wilhelmina, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Duchess of Limburg, etc.
" She adopted her husband's ducal title upon marriage as customary, becoming also a duchess of Mecklenburg.
Since Wilhelmina received no Dutch honours before ascending the throne aged ten and resigned the position of grand master when she abdicated in 1948, she was in the unusual position of being a Dutch princess and former queen who did not hold a Dutch honour. Her daughter and successor therefore appointed her Grand Cross of the Military William Order. This was the only Dutch honour she ever held in her life in a personal capacity.
Garter-encircled Royal Arms of Queen Wilhelmina displayed on her Order of the Garter placard on display in St. George's Hall, Windsor Castle
- Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Family: Grand Cross of the Order of Elizabeth
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Southern Cross
- Czechoslovakia: Collar of the White Lion, 1929
- Denmark: Knight of the Elephant, 5 September 1922
- Ethiopia: Collar of the Order of Solomon
- Finland: Collar of the White Rose, with Star, 1932
- France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, April 1898
- German Imperial and Royal Family: Dame of the Order of Louise, 1st Class
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Redeemer
- Guatemala: Grand Cross of the Quetzal
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Precious Crown, 8 August 1899
- Military Order of Malta: Dame of Honour and Devotion
- Norway: Grand Cross of St. Olav, with Collar
- Persian Imperial Family: Order of the Sun, 1st Class
- Peru: Grand Cross of the Sun of Peru, in Diamonds, 1922
- Poland: Knight of the White Eagle
- Portuguese Royal Family:
- Romanian Royal Family:
- Russian Imperial Family: Grand Cross of St. Catherine
- Siam: Dame of the Order of the Royal House of Chakri, 7 September 1897
- Spanish Royal Family:
- Sweden: Member of the Order of the Seraphim, 9 September 1922
- Ottoman Empire: Grand Cross of the Order of Charity
- United Kingdom:
- Yugoslavian Royal Family: Grand Cross of the White Eagle
- Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas, and Wilhelmina Bay in Antarctica are named for Queen Wilhelmina.
- In 1892, the company Fortuin celebrated its 50th anniversary by producing peppermint candy with the image of the 12-year-old Princess Wilhelmina, which have continued in production since then. Among Dutch sweets, these mints have become the "most Dutch of all".
Ancestors of Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
1. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
After Wilhelmina had taken office in 1890, rumours were spread by Socialist satirical magazine De Roode Duivel
("The Red Devil") that William III was not her real father, but Emma's confidant, S.M.S. de Ranitz. This would undermine the legitimacy of the Queen's reign. Although no hard evidence exists for the allegations and the consensus amongst historians is that they are false,
the rumours were stubborn and still feature in conspiracy theories
circulating in republican circles.[note 1]
The author of the rumour, the later parliamentarian and senator Louis Maximiliaan Hermans, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for lèse-majesté
in 1895 for a different article and cartoon in De Roode Duivel
, mocking the two queens.
- ^ a b c d "Wilhelmina of Netherlands Dies" (UPI), The New York Times, 28 November 1962. pp. A1–A39.
- ^ "Queen Wilhelmina". Life. 25 (7): 83. 16 August 1948. ISSN 0024-3019.
- ^ Fitzwilliams, Richard. "What Dutch 'Bicycling Royals' Can Teach World's Royals". Cable News Network (CNN).
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- ^ "Were A Monarch To Fall Dead", The Washington Post, 7 May 1905
- ^  Archived 14 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine
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- ^ "Ontsporing koninklijke trein – Oudhouten" (in Dutch). oudhouten.nl.
- ^ "Worried Queen", Time. 27 November 1939.
- ^ Nanda van der Zee, Om erger te voorkomen. De voorgeschiedenis en uitvoering van de vernietiging van het Nederlandse jodendom tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1997; Also see Hans Blom, "Een droevig boek. RIOD-directeur vindt Om erger te voorkomen totaal mislukt". Historisch Nieuwsblad nr. 2 (1997)
- ^ Reston, James R. "Queen Wilhelmina goes to England," The New York Times. 14 May 1940.
- ^ Hicks, Pamela (2012). Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten. Toronto: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781476733821.
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- ^ Henri A. van der Zee, The Hunger Winter: Occupied Holland 1944–1945, University of Nebraska Press, 1998 (ISBN 978-0803296183), pp. 200–203.
- ^ Hazelhoff, Erik (2003). In Pursuit of Life. Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. p. 188.
- ^ Van Kleffens, Eelco (1983). Belevenissen II 1940–1958. Alphen aan de Rijn. pp. 115–117.
- ^ Wilhelmina; Eenzaam maar niet alleen, p. 251.
- ^ Queen Wilhelmina Leads the Netherlands Into Civilization VI: Rise & Fall. PCGamer. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
- ^ Bas Agterberg, George Sluizer & Daniel Biltereyst. The Cinema of the Low Countries. Wallflower Press, 2004. p.142
- ^ a b c d "H.M. (koningin Wilhelmina) koningin Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, koningin der Nederlanden, prinses van Oranje-Nassau – Parlement & Politiek". Parlement.com. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- ^ "The Netherlands: Princely and Royal Style: 1813–2013". Archontology.com. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Staatsalmanak voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, 1921, "Koninkrijk Huis der Nederlanden" p. 1
- ^ "Militaire Willems-Orde: Oranje-Nassau, Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, Prinses van" [Military William Order: Orange-Nassau, Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, Princess of]. Ministerie van Defensie (in Dutch). 4 September 1948. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- ^ "De Huizen van Oranje en Nassau -Geschiedenis Militaire Willems Orde".
- ^ "Militaire Willems-Orde voor prinses Wilhelmina, 7 oktober 1948". www.koninklijkeverzamelingen.nl.
- ^ Handelsblad (Het) 1 September 1898
- ^ "Kolana Řádu Bílého lva aneb hlavy států v řetězech" (in Czech), Czech Medals and Orders Society. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 467. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
- ^ "Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun Suurristi Ketjuineen". ritarikunnat.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- ^ M. & B. Wattel (2009). Les Grand'Croix de la Légion d'honneur de 1805 à nos jours. Titulaires français et étrangers. Paris: Archives & Culture. pp. 21, 500, 598. ISBN 978-2-35077-135-9.
- ^ 刑部芳則 (2017). 明治時代の勲章外交儀礼(PDF) (in Japanese). 明治聖徳記念学会紀要. p. 157.
- ^ Kawalerowie i statuty Orderu Orła Białego 1705–2008, 2008, s. 299
- ^ Bragança, Jose Vicente de (2014). "Agraciamentos Portugueses Aos Príncipes da Casa Saxe-Coburgo-Gota" [Portuguese Honours awarded to Princes of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha]. Pro Phalaris (in Portuguese). 9–10: 11–12. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
- ^ Royal Thai Government Gazette (7 May 1899). "พระราชทานเครื่องราชอิสริยาภรณ์ที่ประเทศยุโรป (ต่อแผ่นที่ ๕ หน้า ๖๔)" (PDF) (in Thai). Retrieved 8 May 2019.
- ^ "Real Orden de Damas Nobles de la Reina Maria Luisa". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1893. p. 159. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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- ^ "St. Petersburg Times – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- ^ List of Knights of the Garter – 1348 to present – via heraldica.org.
- ^ Wilhelmina Mints "History of Wilhelmina Mints" Archived 18 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Sweets: A History of Candy "Europe: Wilhelmina Mints"
- ^ Jan Bank (2012). "Wilhelmina (1880–1962)". Historici.nl. Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- ^ Meulen, Dik van der; (2013) 'Koning Willem III 1817–1890', pp. 616–618 (e-book)
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The royal detective Koningskind
(2011) by Rob van Hoorn and the thriller IV
(2013) by Arjen Lubach
both revolve around a fictional investigative journalist who tries finding out whether someone other than William III (perhaps De Ranitz) was the actual father of Wilhelmina, which might result in a constitutional crisis.
Last edited on 28 May 2021, at 23:23
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