On 7 June 1917, Queen Wilhelmina was travelling from Den Bosch to The Hague, and her two royal coaches were attached to the back of a regular train service. She was in her saloon car when eleven of the coaches derailed, and one even rolled off the embankment. The train had broken up in parts, with the front part remaining standing.
Fortunately, the royal coaches remained standing as well, though they did come off the rails. Queen Wilhelmina remained unharmed, but the damage was enormous. Queen Wilhelmina helped to care for the 26 wounded with the aid of a British man. No one was killed in the accident, which seems like a miracle if you look at the photos. The only related death appears to have been the stillbirth of a baby later that day of a heavily pregnant woman who had been on the train. The cause of the derailment was probably the expansion of the tracks due to the heat.
A railway worker reported, “I soon saw the entire train off the rails. Because we came from behind, we reached the royal carriages first. Just then, the Queen alighted. Exactly, sir, like nothing had happened. To a lady of her entourage, she yelled, “Fetch my first-aid kit and the bottle of Eau de Cologne next to it”. With a crowbar, I opened the door of the following carriages. My buddy and I were the first to get a splash of Eau de Cologne on our dirty handkerchiefs and then the Queen went to work.” Queen Wilhelmina used the Eau de Cologne on a woman who had lost consciousness.1
Queen Wilhelmina boarded the front part of the train with several other passengers, and they were brought to Utrecht. The Queen was praised for her calm appearance and bravery.
Congratulations on her survival soon began pouring in, and various royal palaces had registers where people could congratulate her.