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 was no “Princess Qajar,” only the Qajar dynasty  that ruled over Persia 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, ruled Persia from 1…

Why Prince Harry is a Commoner?

Prince Harry is a commoner according to common law, explains royal expert Marlene Eilers Koenig in her blog.
“In the United Kingdom, the law is based on English COMMON law -- from where we get the word Commoner,” she explained. That puts Prince Harry under the rule of the normal law.
Only the sovereign (e.g. The Queen) and the peers of the realm are not commoners, she explained. The peerage of the United Kingdom is composed of, in order of precedence, Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons.
“That leaves everyone else, including princes and princesses, who have not been created peers of the realm,” Eilers continued to explain. Thus, even if Harry is a Prince of the United Kingdom, he is, by law, a commoner. In precedence, as the queen’s grandson, he ranks higher than the Duke of Norfolk, who is the premier duke in the peerage of England, but according to the law, the Duke of Norfolk is not a commoner, while Harry is is.
However, once he gets married, Her Majesty is highly …

Queen Mary and the Delhi Durbar Tiara

In 1911, King George V and Queen Mary were to be proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India. That was the first and only time that a British sovereign attended the durbar, which was hailed as the largest gathering of princes, noblemen and landed gentry in India to pay homage to their sovereigns. The King and Queen should never be outdone by the petty rulers. They were sure these local princes would come garbed with all the gold and diamonds from their treasure chest. It was decided that they should showcase the crown jewels with them. But British law prohibits anyone from taking these treasures outside Great Britain. A new set of coronation regalia  had to be made! Thus, the India Office commissioned Garrard and Co. to make the Imperial Crown of India for King George V. It has eight arches, with 6170 exquisitely cut diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing 34.05 ounces (965 g).

However, Queen Mary was without the empress' …