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