At the end of August 1946, after the Dutch royal family were all reunited in the Netherlands after the Second World War, a press release announced that Princess Juliana would have to limit her duties due to “happy circumstances.” She was pregnant for the fourth time, but she was worried about the pregnancy because she knew she had been infected with rubella.
Rubella can be fatal for a fetus, and if it survives, it can lead to blindness and deafness, among other things. On 18 February 1947, Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter named Maria Christina (first known as Marijke and then as just Christina). Unfortunately, as Juliana had feared, Christina suffered from blindness in one eye and cataracts in the other eye. The news of her condition was announced a month after her birth. Juliana blamed herself, eventually leading to the introduction of the faith healer Greet Hofmans at court. Just one year later, Christina’s grandmother Queen Wilhelmina abdicated the throne in favour of Juliana and she now also had to bear the heavy burden of the crown.
Greet Hofmans later wrote of her young patient, “It is a sunny and brave child. She could see nothing and walked around on hearing. As a consequence, she bumped something and fell every other second. […] She knows me very well, and it is intensely moving to see a smile of recognition on her blind face.”1 The faith healer would be unable to heal her patient and was later banned from court.
Christina attended the social academy De Horst in Driebergen, and she also took classes at the University of Groningen. In 1968, she moved to Canada to follow singing and music classes at the École de musique Vincent-d’Indy in Montreal. She also attended McGill University. She eventually worked as a vocal pedagogue in New York, where she would meet her future husband – Jorge Guillermo, a Cuban exile. She often sang for her family during official events, such as the funerals of her parents and the wedding of her son Bernardo.
They were civilly married on 28 June 1975 in Baarn, followed by a religious ceremony in Utrecht. Christina chose not to ask for permission from parliament to marry and subsequently forfeited her rights to the throne. They initially lived in New York before moving back to the Netherlands in 1984. They went on to have three children together: Bernardo Federico Tomás (born 17 June 1977), Nicolás Daniel Mauricio (born 6 July 1979) and Juliana Edenia Antonia (born 8 October 1981). They finally settled in Villa Eikenhorst in Wassenaar. In 1992, Christina officially converted to Catholicism.
Her marriage to Jorge ended in divorce in 1994, and she settled in New York with her sons while her daughter went to live with her father in London. In New York, Christina was a vocal coach, and she recorded several albums. From 1989, she supported an annual competition held in the Netherlands to encourage musical talent in children, and it was named the Prinses Christina Concours for her. Christina was also a dance therapist who worked with dance and sound therapy with the blind.
Princess Christina singing at her father’s funeral
In 2018, Princess Christina was diagnosed with bone cancer, and she passed away at Noordeinde Palace on 16 August 2019 at the age of 72. She was the first of Queen Wilhelmina’s grandchildren to pass away. For what she had achieved despite her blindness, Christina was Juliana’s greatest pride. She had “made it all on her own” because of her “strong personality.”2