The Year of Queen Wilhelmina – The wedding of Prince Bernhard and Princess Juliana




juliana bernhard
(public domain)

On the 58th wedding anniversary of King William III of the Netherlands and Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, their only grandchild Princess Juliana – heir to the Dutch throne –  married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.

Juliana had been born in 1909, and she had long searched for a suitable match. In 1936, she had met Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, and it is likely that Hermine Reuss of Greiz – the second wife of the exiled German Emperor who lived in The Netherlands – encouraged him and put in a good word for him. He charmed Juliana, and she soon fell in love with him. He visited the Netherlands during Easter and also won the approval of Queen Wilhelmina.

On 8 September 1936, the engagement was announced to the Dutch people. Bernhard became a  naturalised citizen and he received several military positions. He was also made a Prince of the Netherlands. He was marrying a future Queen after all.

On 7 January 1937, they were married in a civil ceremony at the city hall in The Hague, followed by a religious service in the Great Church. It was the same church where Queen Wilhelmina had married Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1901. On the day of her wedding, Juliana had white arums placed on Henry’s grave in Delft. Juliana’s dress was meant to look like a robe of a Greek goddess, but it received little praise. It was a white satin dress with a thick flannel lining to protect the bride from the cold.

During the honeymoon, people already noticed Bernhard’s cold behaviour towards his new wife, writing, “He may be a Prince, but he is no gentleman.”1 After a honeymoon lasting three months – to Queen Wilhelmina’s horror! – the newlyweds settled into Soestdijk Palace. Juliana fell pregnant during the honeymoon and announced her pregnancy herself on the radio on 15 June 1937. A new generation was coming, and Queen Wilhelmina would soon become a grandmother. 2

  1. Juliana by Jolande Withuis p.197
  2. Read more:

    Juliana & Bernhard by Cees Fasseur

    Juliana by Jolande Withuis






About Moniek 1715 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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