Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands (1880–1962)

Title: Wilhelmina
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Monarch of the Netherlands during both world wars. Born at The Hague on 31 August 1880, Wilhelmina Helena Paulina Maria was the only child of King William III of the Netherlands (1817–1890) and his second wife, Queen Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont. After William's death on 21 November 1890, Wilhelmina became queen, but Queen Emma acted as regent for her until 1898. Wilhelmina was educated by tutors. She often toured the Netherlands with her mother so that her subjects would know her before she reached her majority. Wilhelmina married Heinrich Vladimir, the duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They had one daughter, Juliana.

Wilhelmina played an important role in keeping her country neutral during World War I, but maintaining neutrality proved to be an unsuccessful strategy. Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, and it was immediately clear that the country would soon be defeated. Wilhelmina arranged the evacuation of Crown Princess Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernard, together with their two infants, Beatrix and Irene, on 13 May; the next day, she herself escaped along with senior members of her government. She established a government-in-exile in London, infuriating Adolf Hitler.

In radio addresses to her people, Wilhelmina justified her flight abroad on the grounds that she needed the freedom to act in the best interests of her country. Her stirring, patriotic radio speeches strengthened the people's resolve over the long period of German occupation. Wilhelmina steadfastly encouraged the Dutch Resistance movement and appointed her son-in-law, Prince Bernhard, as its chief. She personally received Netherlanders who reached Britain during the war. In 1942, she visited both Canada and the United States.

Wilhelmina returned to liberated southern Holland on 13 March 1945, where she was welcomed enthusiastically. In September 1948, she abdicated in favor of her daughter, Juliana. Wilhelmina died at Het Loo Palace, Appeldoorn, Holland, on 28 November 1962.

Annette Richardson


Further Reading
Devere-Summers, Anthony. War and the Royal Houses of Europe in the Twentieth Century. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1996.; Maass, Walter B. The Netherlands at War: 1940–1945. New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1970.; Van Ditzhuyzen, Reina. Het Huis van Oranje (The House of Orange). Haarlem, the Netherlands: De Haan, 1979.; Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands. Lonely but Not Alone. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.
 

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