The Year of Queen Wilhelmina – Wilhelmina addresses the United States Congress




wilhelmina
Queen Wilhelmina addresses congress (public domain)

On 6 August 1942, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands addressed a joint session of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives – becoming the first reigning sovereign to do so.

She said, “I stand here as the spokesman of my country, not only of those nine million of my compatriots in Europe but also of some seventy millions in Asia and in the Western Hemisphere, whom I know to be at one with me in the spirit. The Netherlands were, like the United States, like all the United Nations, a peace-loving country. At present, both in Europe and in Asia, that country is under enemy occupation. A cruel fate has overtaken its inhabitants. Imagine what it means for a liberty-loving country to be in bondage, for a proud country to be subject to harsh alien rule. What would be the American answer if an invader tried to cover his wholesale systematic pillage with the firing squad, the concentration camp, and the abomination of the hostage practice? Having come by first-hand knowledge to know your national character better than ever, I doubt not that your answer would be: resistance, resistance until the end, resistance in every practicable shape or form.”

[..]

United we stand, and united we will achieve victory.”1

The New York Times reported of her speech, “Queen Wilhelmina didn’t need to say or do anything more to endear her and her people to the Americans but her three days at Washington have had that effect. Busy days they were. She made a speech to Congress that was a model of clear statement, eloquent without rhetoric.”2

During her time in the United States, she met President Roosevelt where she also ran into Märtha of Sweden, Crown Princess of Norway, and was briefly reunited with her daughter Juliana and her granddaughters. Queen Wilhelmina later wrote in her memoirs, “To me everything was new, and meeting the President and Mrs Roosevelt was an experience, although even at the first meeting with him I felt as if I was addressing an old friend, so cordial were his feelings for the Netherlands and for Juliana, Bernhard, the children and me.”3

  1. Read the full text here.
  2. New York Times 8 August 1942
  3. Lonely but not alone p.181






About Moniek 1778 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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