After many years of the Dutch succession depending on a single heartbeat, the birth of a healthy third daughter to the heiress presumptive Princess Juliana came as a huge relief. Princess Juliana was Queen Wilhelmina’s only surviving child, and she had given birth to a daughter named Beatrix in 1938 and a daughter named Irene in 1939. She had suffered a miscarriage in 1941.
The circumstances surrounding Margriet’s birth were not the happiest. In May 1940 Princess Juliana and her family were evacuated to the United Kingdom at the start of the Second World War. A month later, the family travelled on to Ottawa in Canada, which is where Margriet was born on 19 January 1943. Wilhelmina received a telephone call from her son-in-law Bernhard at half-past one in the morning to inform her of the birth of her third grandchild. She would not meet her new grandchild until several months when she visited Canada for the christening. The christening took place on 29 June 1943 at the St. Andrews Church in Ottawa.
Margriet would not return to Dutch soil until 2 August 1945 after the liberation of the Netherlands. The final years before Queen Wilhelmina’s abdication, Margriet and her family lived at Soestdijk Palace where her mother prepared to take over as Queen. A fourth daughter named Maria Christina (Marijke, later known as Christina) was born on 18 February 1947. Juliana had contracted rubella during the pregnancy and Christina was born nearly blind. It weighed heavily on Juliana. On 4 September 1948, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in her daughter’s favour, and Margriet was now the daughter of a Queen. Margriet was sent to the same progressive school as her two elder sisters in 1949. The girls’ father was not happy with the school as did not focus on academic achievements.
Margriet continued her studies at the Baarns Lyceum from which she graduated in 1961. Afterwards, she went to study at the University of Montpellier in France for a year before applying to study law at the University of Leiden. She also trained with the Red Cross in Amersfoort. During her studies in Leiden, Margriet would meet her future husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven.
Margriet and Pieter’s engagement was announced on 10 March 1965, and they were married on 10 January 1967 in The Hague. They moved into The Loo Palace after their wedding before moving to Huis Het Loo, near the palace in 1975. They went on to have four sons together, and their sons were granted the title “Prince of Orange-Nassau” and with “Highness” as a style of address. Their father has remained untitled. They currently also have 11 grandchildren.
Princess Margriet has moved from being the monarch’s granddaughter to the monarch’s daughter to being the monarch’s aunt. She still performs royal duties for her nephew King Willem-Alexander. She is currently eighth and last in the line of succession. Her sons are not in the line of succession because they are not within three degrees of kinship to the monarch.1
Juliana & Bernhard by Cees Fasseur