She was once called the Rasputin of the Dutch Royal family – Greet Hofmans was a faith healer who nearly brought down the Dutch monarchy.
Greet (Margaretha) Hofmans was born on 23 June 1894 as the eldest daughter of Frits Hofmans and Hermien Penner. She would be one of four siblings. Not much is known about her early years, but we know she became a maid with a family in Amsterdam before slowly working her way up. From 1914 on, she also took care of her mother, who became a paraplegic. She took on the role of carer until her mother’s death in 1929. By then, she had joined the Theosophical Society, and she also joined their camps. In 1933, she began to work for ATEK factories, and at the age of 42, she finally began living on her own in Amsterdam. During the Second World War, she met J.W. Kaiser, who introduced her to the occult and the paranormal. By her own account, she received an “assignment” to help others on 2 March 1946. She reportedly discovered her healing powers by accident when she healed a young boy with tuberculosis. She was led by the spirit of a man named M. Exler – he had died in 1939.
Greet began travelling the country to convey Exler’s messages, and she even moved to Exler’s hometown to follow in his footsteps. In Hattem, she continued her paranormal healings, and soon hundreds of sick people flocked to her. Greet lived on the estate on the estate of Adolphine Agneta Baroness Van Heeckeren van Molecaten-Groeninx van Zoelen who was also entranced by her. The Baroness was also the future grandmaster of Queen Juliana’s household.
The then Princess Juliana had given birth to a fourth daughter – named Marijke Christina (later just Princess Christina) – who had been born nearly blind because her mother had been infected with rubella during the pregnancy. Juliana felt very guilty about the whole situation and tried to fix her daughter’s eyesight. The left eye was completely blind, but the right eye was cloudy. An eye doctor managed to operate on the right eye but could not guarantee that the right eye would not also go blind eventually. Juliana’s husband Prince Bernhard learned of Greet around 1947 or 1948 through contacts connected to the Baroness. He brought the idea of inviting Greet to Soestdijk Palace to his wife, but Juliana first sent a confidant to meet Greet.
Greet first came to Soestdijk Palace in 1948, around the time Juliana became Queen after her mother’s abdication. Greet immediately promised not only to heal the poorly functioning right eye of Princess Christina but also the “dead” left eye. Her confidence won over Queen Juliana who would have done anything for her daughter. As Greet Hofmans’ influence at court grew, she became close friends with Queen Juliana, and soon their circle was expanding. Prince Bernhard soon realised that he had made a grave mistake in bringing Greet to Soestdijk. He told her that she could not stay the night any more, and it earned him the ire of his wife. Soon there were calls to have her removed entirely from the court, but Juliana was deaf to the concerns. Juliana began to hold conferences in the Old Loo Palace, where pacifism and renunciation of the established religions were the main themes. Eleanor Roosevelt – who had been dragged along as a guest to the second conference – referred to them as a bunch of “fanatics.” The situation was becoming worrying, and it was feared that Greet influenced Juliana in the political sense.
It wasn’t until 1956 that the whole situation exploded in the press. Prince Bernhard had seen his marriage go to the edge of the cliff and was even told to go live with his mother by Juliana. They were headed for a divorce – which was unthinkable. It was Prince Bernhard who fought back via Der Spiegel magazine with inside information. He was only leaving Soestdijk Palace “feet first.” A commission was founded to investigate the matter, and they concluded that Greet needed to leave the court.
Juliana was reluctant to let her friend go, and it appeared she was unwilling to follow the conclusions made by the commission. Nevertheless, Greet visited the court for the last time at the end of August. In her Christmas Speech of 1956, Juliana briefly touched on the situation that had affected her so much, saying, “Why do some people attack others through devious means and with untrue claims?”
Juliana never saw Greet again, and her circle of like-minded friends slowly disappeared from the court.
Greet continued to practice as a faith healer – though not quite on such a grand scale, especially after she suffered a skull fracture in a car crash. She died of cancer on 16 November 1968, after refusing treatment.1