Queen Juliana of the Netherlands

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Juliana was Queen of the Netherlands from September 4, 1948 to April 30, 1980 when she abdicated in favor of her eldest daughter Beatrix. Born at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands on April 30, 1909, Juliana was the only child of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her husband Prince Hendrik of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Juliana was given the names Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina:

Juliana and her mother Queen Wilhelmina in 1914; Photo Credit – Wikipedia, United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division

When Juliana was six years old, a small class was formed at Noordeinde Palace so that the young princess could be educated with other children. Her classmates were all from Dutch noble families: Baroness Elise Bentinck, Baroness Elisabeth van Hardenbroek, and Jonkvrouwe Miek de Jonge. Juliana continued with this class until the age of eleven when she began studying with private tutors. At the age of 18, Juliana enrolled at Leiden University where she studied sociology, jurisprudence, economics, history of religion, parliamentary history, constitutional law, and international law. She finished her studies three years later in 1930.

In February of 1936, Juliana attended the Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. There she met and fell in love with Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, a prince of a minor German royal house. After Queen Wilhelmina had lawyers draft a very detailed prenuptial agreement that specified exactly what Bernhard could and could not do, the couple’s engagement was announced on September 8, 1936. After a civil marriage at The Hague City Hall, a religious marriage was held at the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk in The Hague on January 7, 1937. Before the wedding, Bernhard had been granted Dutch citizenship and changed the spelling of his names from German to Dutch, and on his wedding day, he became His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Juliana of the Netherlands and Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard after their engagement; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Juliana and Bernhard had four daughters:


During World War II, three days after Germany began its invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, the Dutch Royal Family left for London, England. One month later, Juliana, along with her daughters Beatrix and Irene, went to Ottawa, Canada, where they would be safer. Prince Bernhard stayed with Queen Wilhelmina in London during the war, although both did make occasional visits to the rest of the family in Canada. Juliana’s third daughter Margriet was born while the family was in Canada. On August 2, 1945, the whole family returned to the Netherlands.

Juliana with her mother, husband, and daughters in Ottawa, Canada in 1943; Photo Credit – Wikipedia, Library and Archives Canada

After World War II, Juliana served twice as regent (October 14, 1947 – December 1, 1947 and May 14, 1948 – August 30, 1948) due to the ill health of her mother, Queen Wilhelmina. On September 4, 1948, after a reign of nearly 58 years, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of her daughter and Juliana became Queen of the Netherlands. Wilhelmina survived until 1962 when she died at the age of 82.

Juliana was a much more relaxed monarch than her mother had been and this lessened the distance between the royal family and the Dutch people. She often appeared in public dressed like any ordinary Dutch woman, and preferred to be addressed as “Mevrouw” (Dutch for “Mrs.”) rather than her formal “Majesty”. Juliana’s love of bicycling for exercise gave rise to the royal family’s nickname, “the cycling family.”

Queen Juliana riding a bike in 1967; Photo Credit – Wikipedia, Nationaal Archief

Queen Juliana was particularly interested in the problems of developing countries, the refugee problem after World War II, and child welfare. In 1953, when the Netherlands suffered its most destructive storm in 500 years with more than two thousand people drowned and tens of thousands were trapped by the flood waters, Queen Juliana quickly visited the areas affected, outfitted with boots, to comfort the affected people and to raise their morale. During her Silver Jubilee in 1973, Queen Juliana donated all of the money that had been raised by the National Silver Jubilee Committee to organizations that supported children in need throughout the world.

On January 31, 1980, the birthday of her eldest daughter Beatrix, Queen Juliana announced that she would abdicate in favor of Beatrix on April 30, 1980, her 71st birthday. Juliana indicated that she wanted to be styled as Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana. After her abdication, Juliana remained active in the socially and appeared regularly in public. One of her favorite activities was dining at fine restaurants – a favorite was the Auberge de l’Ill in Illhaeusern in Alsace, France.


After 1995, when Juliana’s general health began to decline, she made fewer public appearances. Her last public appearance was in 1998 at the wedding of her grandson Prince Maurits and Marilène van den Broek. In 2001, during a television interview on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Prince Bernhard said that Juliana no longer recognized her family and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. On Saturday, March 20, 2004, shortly before six o’clock in the morning, Juliana died in her sleep at the age of 94 due to pneumonia, in the presence of her three eldest children.

Juliana’s funeral was held on March 30, 2004 at the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. She had requested that the color white be the focus of her funeral and therefore her daughters dressed in white. Princess Christina, Juliana’s youngest daughter and a talented singer who had studied classical music, beautifully sang ( 7:52 in the video below) the Shaker song “Simple Gifts.”  As Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s familiar Morgenstemning (Morning Mood) played (18:16 in the video below), Prince Bernhard, Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene, Princess Margriet, Princess Christina, and Margriet’s husband Pieter van Vollenhoven followed the casket down the stairs to the royal vault for the internment. Prince Bernhard survived his wife by eight months, dying at the age of 93 on December 1, 2004.
You Tube: Queen Juliana’s Funeral


Wikipedia: Juliana of the Netherlands

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