The Dutch succession crisis of the early 20th century

(public domain)

Upon the death of King William III his only surviving child, Princess Wilhelmina became Queen at the age of 10. As she had no siblings, her potential successor at that time was her aunt Sophie, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Her father’s other siblings had all died without leaving issue.

Queen Wilhelmina married Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on  7 February 1901, but she would not have an easy road to motherhood. Her first miscarriage would follow later that same year on 9 November. She was confined to bed rest for the next four weeks, but the doctors did not fear that any damage had been done. She was quickly pregnant again. At the end of March, she wrote to her former governess that was expecting “a great event.” She was already four months pregnant. “I have all reason to hope. You can imagine how happy I am and how much more happy I will be still when all doubt has gone.” However, upon her arrival at the Loo palace in early April, the Queen felt dizzy and took to her bed. It was suspected to be typhoid fever. For two weeks, the Netherlands held their breath. If she died now, the throne would pass to her German-born cousin, Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the grandson of her aunt, Sophie. However, he would have to give up the grand ducal throne for the Dutch throne, and he had indicated that he did not wish to do that. The other option was Sophie’s daughter Marie, who was not married to a reigning Prince and who was not in line for the Grand Ducal throne. Marie had married Prince Heinrich VII Reuss of Köstritz and had four surviving children in 1902.

Princess Marie Alexandrine of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (public domain)

Wilhelmina recovered but the child she was carrying died. Her doctor recorded, “At 12.30 pm I was once again at the sickbed, where the Queen was suffering hellish pains, the cause of which was unknown to her. I was obligated to tell her after examing her. This was one of the most difficult moments in my professional life; I felt like I was sinking. The Queen saw it on my face and said, “O, Mister Roessingh, this is terribly sad, but I will be able to deal with it.” At that moment, I admired the Queen as a woman with an indescribable power of the spirit, like a hero with a suffering soul. I have a new regard for her, that will last until my death.” Later that night, the Queen gave birth to a stillborn son. Her recovery was a lot slower this time.

It was until 1906 that Wilhelmina would conceive again, but this pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage. On 9 September 1908, Wilhelmina confirmed to the Minister-President that she was once again pregnant. The tension grew in the final weeks of April 1909. A Prince or Princess eliminate the possibility of an alien German prince. Princess Juliana was born at 6.50 am on Friday 30 April 1909. Mother and child were well. Wilhelmina would feed Juliana herself for the next nine months. The fact that it was a girl and not a boy did not seem to matter. Anything was better than a German prince(ss).

At the end of 1911, Wilhelmina was once again pregnant but on 23 January 1912, she again suffered a miscarriage. This was followed by another miscarriage in October 1912. She would not conceive again. With the birth of Juliana, the succession was secured for another generation.

About Moniek Bloks 2059 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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