Queen Juliana (1909-2004)

Princess Juliana married Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937. The couple had four daughters: Beatrix (born 1938), Irene (born 1939), Margriet (born in exile in Canada in 1943) and Christina (born 1947). Both before and after the war, the family lived at Soestdijk Palace.

Queen Juliana ruled from 1948 to 1980. In 1980 she abdicated in favour of her daughter Princess Beatrix, who became Queen of the Netherlands. Following her abdication she was once again addressed as 'princess', in accordance with her wishes. Princess Juliana died on 20 March 2004. Her husband died some months later, on 1 December.

Youth and education

Princess Juliana was born in The Hague on 30 April 1909, the daughter of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik. She 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 educationalist Jan Ligthart so that, from the age of six, the Princess could receive her primary education with children of her own age.

As the Constitution specified that she was to 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 30 April 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 Council of State.

From 1927 to 1930 the Princess attended lectures at Leiden University. During this time she lived with a number of other women students in Katwijk. She chose her subjects partly to prepare her for her duties as Head of State, and partly to satisfy her personal interest in literature and religion. She joined the Women Students' Association and took an active part in a wide range of undergraduate activities. Her studies were crowned with the award of an honorary doctorate in literature and philosophy, her sponsor being the renowned historian Johan Huizinga.

During the Depression of the early 1930s, the Princess mainly turned her attention to social issues. It was partly on her initiative that the National Crisis Committee was established to assist the many victims of the economic crisis. She was the Committee's highly active honorary chair. On the death of her father, Prince Hendrik, in 1934, she succeeded him as President of the Netherlands Red Cross.

Marriage and family

Princess Juliana's engagement to His Serene Highness Prince Bernhard of Lippe‑Biesterfeld was announced on 8 September 1936. They married on 7 January 1937, and made their home at Soestdijk Palace, Baarn.

Four daughters were born to Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard: Beatrix (born 1938), Irene (born 1939), Margriet (born 1943) and Christina (born 1947). All the princesses were born at Soestdijk Palace, with the exception of Princess Margriet, who was born in Ottawa, Canada, during the war.

The German invasion on 10 May 1940 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 Canada, where she lived in Rockcliffe, a suburb of Ottawa, until the Netherlands was liberated. Prince Bernhard, who remained in London with Queen Wilhelmina, was able to visit his family in Canada on several occasions. During the war, the Princess visited Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

In April 1945 she returned with Queen Wilhelmina to the liberated part of the Netherlands, settling in Breda. She took part in a relief operation for the people in the northern part of the country, where the famine of the previous winter had claimed many victims. On 2 August 1945 Princess Juliana was reunited with her family on Dutch soil.

After the German capitulation in May 1945, the Princess took part in various relief operations to help the victims of the occupation. She was, for example, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council for the Rehabilitation of the People of the Netherlands. In the spring of 1946 Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard visited the countries that had helped the Netherlands during the occupation.

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. In 1948 the Queen announced her intention to abdicate and on 4 September 1948 Juliana assumed the royal prerogative. Two days later, on 6 September, Princess Juliana's investiture as Queen of the Netherlands took place in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

In 1948 a faith healer called Greet Hofmans was appointed to treat Princess Christina, who had been born partially blind. In the years that followed her influence over Queen Juliana became considerable. In 1956, to avoid a constitutional crisis, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard agreed to the investigation of Hofmans and her activities, leading to the appointment of the Beel Commission. As a result of the Commission's findings, Queen Juliana was forced to break all contact with Hofmans. In 2005 Queen Beatrix, as Chair of the Board of the House of Orange-Nassau Archives Trust, granted Professor Cees Fasseur access to Princess Juliana's personal archives while he was researching his book on the conflict.

Queen of the Netherlands

Overseas territories, coalitions and politics

In the first year of her reign, it was principally the Indonesian question that claimed Queen Juliana's attention. In 1949 she signed the documents transferring sovereignty to Indonesia in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. On 15 December 1954 Queen Juliana gave her assent to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which formed the basis for cooperation between the three remaining parts of the Kingdom: the Netherlands, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Suriname became an independent republic on 25 November 1975 after the Queen signed the Act transferring sovereignty to the Republic of Suriname.

Queen Juliana was closely involved in the formation of the Drees, Beel, De Quay, Marijnen, Cals, Zijlstra, De Jong, Biesheuvel, Den Uyl and Van Agt governments. As Head of State, she was a fervent supporter of international cooperation and European integration.

Social issues

In the night of 31 January 1953, the provinces of Zeeland and South Holland were hit by disastrous floods. Queen Juliana did all in her power to obtain international aid, and she visited the disaster area for days at a time.

During her reign, Queen Juliana showed a very great interest in social issues. She made frequent visits to hospitals, convalescent centres, sanatoria, homes for the elderly and children's homes. On the international front, she was particularly interested in the problems of developing countries, the refugee problem and child welfare throughout the world.

In 1966, at the opening of the General Assembly of the International Union for Child Welfare (known in the Netherlands as the Children's Aid Scheme), Queen Juliana launched a new project entailing studies of child care and protection methods which could be applied on a broad scale as part of local or regional development plans.

The Queen also provided financial and material support. When she and Prince Bernhard celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in 1962, they donated both land and funds to facilitate the establishment of youth centres throughout the Netherlands. On her Silver Jubilee in 1973, she presented the large sum of money that had been raised by the National Silver Jubilee Committee to organisations for children in need throughout the world. Queen Juliana decided that the gift from the nation which she received on her seventieth birthday in 1979 should be donated to the International Year of the Child.

The Queen gave her name to the Queen Juliana Foundation, later renamed the Juliana Welfare Fund. The aim of the Fund, which merged with the Orange Fund on 27 June 2002, is to improve social welfare and encourage social cohesion.

In recognition of her services to society, Queen Juliana was awarded an honorary doctorate in the social sciences at Groningen University in 1964.

Science and culture

Queen Juliana closely followed developments in science and the arts, in particular in the visual arts, the theatre and literature. She took a great personal interest in the allocation of the annual Royal Award for Painting. She frequently visited exhibitions and attended the theatre both at home and abroad.

The Queen's birthday on 30 April was always celebrated with a parade of flowers at Soestdijk Palace.

Princess of the Netherlands

In radio and television broadcasts on 31 January 1980, Queen Juliana announced that she would abdicate on 30 April in favour of her daughter Beatrix. In her speech, she expressed the hope that she could continue to serve the country after her abdication. She became honorary chair of the National Committee of the International Year of the Handicapped in 1981 and continued to pay frequent visits to care institutions. In 1983 Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard went to the Netherlands Antilles to visit the projects financed from the money presented to the Princess as a gift on her seventieth birthday.

In the course of the 1990s, Princess Juliana gradually reduced her public commitments. She wrote to the press on 23 February 1999, announcing that in view of her advanced age she was unable to accept any further official invitations. With her ninetieth birthday approaching, she also explained that it would not be possible for her to reply to her well-wishers in the future.