Queen Wilhelmina – Typhoid fever comes knocking

(public domain)

Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Henry had been married for just a few months when she found herself pregnant for the first time. Tragically, it would be the start of many disappointments. On 9 November 1901, she suffered a miscarriage, and the cause was not clear.

Queen Wilhelmina was ordered to bed rest for four weeks and was assured that she would completely recover. She fell pregnant again early the following year, much to her delight. She wrote to her former governess Miss Winter in late March, “We will have to go without our most enjoyable visit to Amsterdam this year as I am expecting a great event if everything goes as I have reason to hope! I am beginning the 4th month just now; I write this to show you that positive certainty is not yet possible to give, but that I have all reason to hope.”1

Wilhelmina travelled to The Loo Palace to wait out the next few months, and she arrived there on 3 April 1902. However, she soon became dizzy and took to her bed. Just one week later, doctors suspected that she was suffering from typhoid fever. Her mother Queen Emma travelled from The Hague to Apeldoorn to nurse her daughter through the illness. The diagnosis was confirmed on 18 April when the palace gates were plastered with pamphlets announcing the presence of a contagious disease.

For two weeks, the Netherlands held their breath as the young Queen fought for her life. The fear of a German Prince inheriting the throne suddenly seemed all too close. For several days, fever ravished the Queen’s body, and it wasn’t until 29 April that the newspapers reported that her condition was improving. To everyone’s great joy, she had survived, but her pregnancy had not remained unaffected. In early May, Wilhelmina gave birth to a stillborn son. Wilhelmina bravely told the doctor, “It is terribly sad, but I shall bear it.”2 Wilhelmina would remain afraid of infectious diseases.

In July when she was recovering in Schaumburg, she wrote to Miss Winter, “I knew all the time I was ill that my mother and others kept sending you news and I knew that your thoughts were with me.”3

  1. Darling Queen, Dear old Bones p.283
  2. Wilhelmina, de jonge Koningin by Cees Fasseur p. 265
  3. Darling Queen, Dear old Bones p.283

About Moniek Bloks 2740 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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