Noordeinde Palace in The Hague is the King’s place of work. The palace is the property of the State and was placed at the disposal of the head of state by Act of Parliament. The palace complex also includes the Royal Stables, and the palace gardens contain the Royal Archives, which are the property of the House of Orange-Nassau Historic Collections Trust.
Noordeinde Palace has been at the centre of various momentous events in the lives of the royal family. Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard and Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien were married from the palace. After their deaths, Queen Juliana (2004), Prince Hendrik (1934), Prince Claus (2002) and Prince Bernhard (2004) all lay in state there.
Visiting Noordeinde Palace
The palace itself its not open for public tours because it is the King's place of work. The limited space and the daily use of the building as a reception area and office make it unsuitable for visitors.
The history of Noordeinde Palace can be divided into four periods.
From farmhouse to palace (1533-1675)
The oldest section of the palace dates from before 1533, when the steward of the States of Holland, Willem van de Goudt, had the medieval farmhouse converted into a spacious residence. The farmstead's cellars still form part of the palace basement.
From 1566 to 1591 the palace had a different owner. After that it was leased and in 1595 purchased by the States of Holland for Louise de Coligny, the widow of William of Orange, and her son Prince Frederik Hendrik. In recognition of William's service to the nation, the States presented the building to his family in 1609.
Frederik Hendrik substantially enlarged the house, which was then known as the Oude Hof. He began by buying the surrounding plots of land. The architects Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen, who built Huis ten Bosch Palace in 1645, were among those involved in the alterations. These included lengthening the main building and adding wings on either side, thus creating the characteristic H-form that we know today.
After Frederik Hendrik died in 1647, his widow, Amalia van Solms, spent much of her time at the Oude Hof. Following her death in 1675, the house lay more or less empty for many years. After the death of Stadholder William III in 1702, it passed to King Frederick William of Prussia, a grandson of Frederik Hendrik's.
In 1754 King Frederick the Great of Prussia sold his land-holdings in the Netherlands to Stadholder William V.
The French period (1795-1813)
William's son, who would become King Willem I, took up residence at the Oude Hof in 1792. But when the French invaded the Netherlands in 1795, he and his family were forced to flee to England. The Oude Hof became the property of the Batavian Republic and hence state property, the status it has today.
A royal palace (1813-1901)
In 1813 after the fall of King Louis Bonaparte, Prince Willem returned to the Netherlands, where he was proclaimed Sovereign Prince. The Constitution of the time decreed that the State must provide a summer and a winter home for the sovereign. Initially there were plans to build a new winter residence, but in the end it was decided to make extensive alterations to the Oude Hof.
King Willem I moved into Noordeinde Palace in 1817, living there until his abdication in 1840. His successor, King Willem II, never resided there. Like his grandfather, King Willem III used Noordeinde as his winter home, though he preferred to live at his summer residence, Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. In 1876 he had the royal stables built in the gardens behind Noordeinde Palace.
Even after King Willem III married Queen Emma, the royal family continued to use Noordeinde as their winter home. Their daughter, Princess Wilhelmina, was born there in 1880, and Queen Emma and her daughter still spent their winters at Noordeinde after the King's death in 1890. In 1895 the Queen Regent had premises for the Royal Archives built in the grounds.
Noordeinde Palace in the 20th century
In 1901 when Queen Wilhelmina married Prince Hendrik, Queen Mother Emma moved to Lange Voorhout Palace. Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik used Noordeinde as their winter palace. After the Second World War Queen Wilhelmina briefly returned to the palace until her abdication.
In May 1948 the central section of the palace was destroyed by fire. That same year Juliana acceded to the throne. She and Prince Bernhard chose Soestdijk Palace as her official residence, though some members of the Royal Household continued to have offices in Noordeinde. Between 1952 and 1976 the Institute of Social Studies was based in the north wing. Following a thorough restoration in 1984, the palace again became a royal workplace, this time for Queen Beatrix.