Skip to main content

Queen Juliana of the Netherlands: The People's Queen

Queen Juliana address the thousands of Dutch after abdicating in 1980.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina was born at The Hague on April 30, 1909, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and  Prince Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  As the only heir to the house of Orange, Juliana was brought up in a privileged but constricted environment. She was privately tutored in a class with several other girls.  Queen Wilhelmina herself, according to Dan van der Vat, was “a fierce autocrat who made the princess sit on a gilt chair as invited children, ordered to address her only as ‘Mevrouw’ (Madame), played on the floor round her feet.” But Juliana grew tired of the ceremonies at court. As an adult Juliana, she surprised the governor-general of Canada by sitting on the floor whenever she could.

In 1927, Juliana attended the University of Leiden, where she graduated in international law in 1930. In the 1930’s, she formed the National Crisis Committee to provide relief from the economic depression, which, according to van der Vat, she chaired for five years, “acquiring an intimate experience of economic distress across the nation.” Upon the death of Prince Henry, she took over the presidency of the Netherlands Red Cross in July 1934. In November that year, she was a bridesmaid at the Duke of Kent's wedding to Princess Marina at Westminster Abbey.

Juliana always wanted to keep in control of her life.  She immediately fell for Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld when they met at the winter Olympics in Bavaria early in 1936.  Bernhard pursued Juliana and after discussing the heavy role they would play in the state of the Dutch affairs, they were married on January 7, 1937, exactly the same day Queen Wilhelmina married Prince Henry 58 years before.  They had four daughters:  Beatrix (born 1938). Irene (1939), Margriet (1943), and Maria Christina (1947). Just before the Germans occupied the Netherlands in 1940, Juliana and her daughters fled to England and spent most of the war years in Canada. The Royal Family returned to liberated part the Netherlands in April 1945. Juliana became actively involved in relief operations for the victims of the Nazi occupation. She headed the Council for the Rehabilitation of the People of the Netherlands, working ceaselessly to alleviate the suffering of her displaced subjects.

Immediately after World War II, the Netherlands struggled to maintain its colony in the Dutch East Indies . The Indonesians were demanding for their independence and the Dutch troops, still battered by the wartime trauma, tried to quell the uprising and maintain its grip on its colony. Amidst this crisis, Queen Wilhelma, already reeling behind declining health, abdicated in favor of Juliana in 1948. The following year, Juliana signed the documents granting independence to Indonesia. 
Upon her accession, Juliana, never comfortable with ceremonial and pomp, abolished the curtsey and other formalities which she considered to be outdated; and she spent as much time as she could with her four daughters, claiming that her maternal duties were as important to her as they were to any other woman, The Daily Telegraph wrote.

In 1953, Juliana had to face another tough period of her reign, this time, the devastating flood that wrought havoc in Zeeland, the country's most populated territory. The disaster claimed the life of over 1,600 people but Juliana was quick to come to the rescue, visiting the area by rowing boat or wearing rubber boots. In the aftermath, she was closely involved in the Delta Project, for a new rampart to withstand the North Sea. These manifestations of compassion from the motherly queen easily earned her the love of her countrymen, a factor that kept the Dutch monarchy weather intact, despite the Prince Bernhard's involvement in the Lockheed scandal of the 1970s.

Juliana would throw in her effort where social justice is concerned. In her joint address to the US Congress in 1952, she urged countries to spend less on defense and more on social services. She also funded the International Union for Child Welfare to study about child care and child protection and its possibilities for inclusion in local and regional development plans. Constitutional mandate barred her from promoting legislations, but that did not stop her from influencing the government to promote the welfare of the people. She even went on to greater measures to help Indonesian immigrants in the 1970s.

Warm-hearted and jolly, inwardly a little shy, splendidly rich, and unapologetically round, she made no claim to be beautiful or well-dressed, but she radiated an aura of supreme self-confidence that caused her to be widely loved in Holland, and in many countries besides, wrote The Independent.

Juliana followed the precedence of her mother and abdicated in favor of her daughter, Beatrix, on her 71st birthday, reverting to her former title as Princess of the Netherlands. She, nevertheless, remained active in numerous charitable causes until well into her eighties.  She died in her sleep on March 20 2004, a few weeks before her 95th birthday. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular posts from this blog

The Truth about “Princess Qajar,” the Royal Lady with the Mustache

A Persian Princess viral news websites baptized as Princess Qajar has lately become a stuff of legends. She was presented as a royal lady with a facial hair that made her so attracted that 13 men claimed their own lives because she couldn’t love them. The truth is, there is no “Princess Qajar,” but there is a the Qajar dynasty of Persia that ruled over Persian for more than a century.

The only fact about this historical meme is that at that time, it was fashionable for Persian women to wear mustache. “Many Persian-language sources, as well as photographs, from the nineteenth century confirm that Qajar women sported a thin mustache, or more accurately a soft down, as a sign of beauty,” explained Dr. Afsaneh Najmabadi.
The memes and fake stories circulating online refer not to a single princess, but actually to two female dynasts: Princess Fatemah Khanum"'Esmat al-Dowleh" and her half-sister, Princess Zahra Khanom Tadj es-Saltaneh. Their father, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, …

A Day in the Life of The Queen: How Queen Elizabeth II Spends Her Day

Queen Elizabeth II is a stickler for order, and so routine is a part of Her Majesty’s day-to-day life. She rises at around 8.30 am and would be greeted by a piper who plays at 9am on the terrace beneath her apartment at Buckingham Palace. When longtime attendant and confidante Margaret MacDonald was still in service, Don Coolican noted that  Bobo, as The Queen affectionately called MacDonald, would awaken her, “bringing in a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits handed over by the footman.” The Queen’s corgis are the first creatures to grace The Queen , who would also beg to be given biscuits, Coolican writes.

10 Interesting Facts About Princess Margaret of United Kingdom, Countess of Snowdon

Princess Margaret Rose was one of the most popular, albeit controversial, royals during her lifetime. She was a rather sad figure, a victim of love at an early age and a person who constantly sought affection and attention as she went on to looked for the real meaning of her life. Might as well want to learn about the colorful life of Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister? Here are 10 interesting facts about her.

1. Born on August 30, 1930, in Glamis, the family seat of her mother's family, Princess Margaret was the first member of the British Royal Family to be born in Scotland for over 300 years.

2. Her parents, the then Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) wanted to call her Anne, but her grandfather, King George V, vetoed, so they named her Margaret Rose, instead.

3. In 1936, the princess' relatively peaceful life was altered considerably when his uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the woman he loved, the two-time American divorce…