With their engagement having just taken place four days previously, Queen Wilhelmina and Henry announced their engagement on 16 October 1900 with a proclamation.
“To my people!
It is a need to me, to the Dutch people, of whose lively interest in the happiness of me and my House I am so deeply convinced, to inform you personally of my engagement with His Highness, Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
May this event, with God’s blessing, benefit the wellbeing of our country and its possessions and colonies in East and West. [..]
Done at The Loo Palace, on this day 16 October 1900 – Wilhelmina.”1
A delighted Wilhelmina wrote to her former governess Miss Winter, “Oh darling, you cannot even faintly imagine how frantically happy I am and how much joy, and sunshine has come upon my path.”2
After heavy negotiations concerning his income, his status and titles, the two were married on 7 February 1901. Henry became known as Prince Hendrik in the Netherlands, and he became Prince Consort.
He was also awarded the style of “Royal Highness.” Henry’s initial reception in the Netherlands had been somewhat lukewarm, but his popularity grew over time. One of the defining moments for this came in 1907 when the Berlin ferry – which served the Harwich/Hook of Holland route – broke in two and sank. Henry arrived the following day to help with the recovery of the bodies, but they also found a handful of survivors on the floating stern. There had been around 144 passengers on board. Once the survivors had been brought to safety, Henry helped to care for the victims and even poured them coffee or cognac. His easy-going nature also made him popular amongst the palace servants.
Though initially a happy match, Wilhelmina and Henry would grow apart over the years. She would suffer several miscarriages and a stillbirth before finally giving birth to a healthy baby girl named Juliana in 1909. She was his pride and joy until the day he died, and they always remained on good terms, despite the wavering relationship between Henry and Wilhelmina.
- Vlaardingsche Courant
- Darling Queen, Dear old Bones p.271