Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Juliana, Queen of the Netherlands (1909–2004)

Queen of the Netherlands (1948–1980). Born on 30 April 1909 in The Hague, Juliana Emma Marie Louise Wilhelmina was the only daughter of Dutch Queen Wilhelmina van Oranje-Nassau and her husband Prince Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Juliana was brought up by her mother in the Palace Soestdijk, isolated from but fully dedicated to the throne. She earned a law degree from Leyden University in 1930, and in 1937 she married German Prince Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld, who then became prince consort. They had four daughters, Beatrix (1938), Irene (1939), Margriet (1943), and Christina (1947).

On 10 May 1940, the German Army invaded the Netherlands. Queen Wilhelmina fled to Great Britain, while Juliana and her daughters spent the war years in Canada. After the war, the royal family returned to the Netherlands. In 1948 Queen Wilhelmina abdicated, and Juliana ascended the throne.

In the first year of her reign, Juliana signed the independence proclamation of Indonesia, the former Dutch Indies. As head of state she proved a fervent advocate of international cooperation and European integration. She developed pacifist opinions, and in 1952 she delivered a controversial, pacifist speech to the U.S. Congress.

During Juliana's reign, Dutch society underwent profound changes, including postwar economic reconstruction of the country, student movements during the 1960s, and the oil crises of the 1970s. The royal family did not remain untouched by these changes. The conversion of Princess Irene to Roman Catholicism and her marriage to a right-wing pretender to the Spanish throne provoked severe protests. Similar protests occurred when Princess Beatrix married a controversial German diplomat. The most severe blow to the royal house, however, was the 1976 revelation that Prince Bernhard was involved in a bribery scandal involving the American aircraft company Lockheed. Government censure of the prince brought talk of a possible abdication by the queen, but this scenario was averted when Bernhard resigned all his positions in the armed forces and in private business.

Despite these challenges, Juliana earned great respect because of her social engagement and informal appearance and demeanor. In 1980 she abdicated the throne in favor of her daughter, Princess Beatrix. During the 1990s, Juliana gradually withdrew from public life. She died on 20 March 2004 in Baarn.

Beatrice de Graaf


Further Reading
Kikkert, J. G. Juliana: Een vorstelijk leven [Juliana: A Royal Life]. Utrecht: Poseidon pers, 1999.
 

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