*** World War II -- the Netherlands Dutch royal family evacuates (May 1940)

World War II: The Netherlands--Dutch Royal Family Evacuates (May 12-13, 1940)

Dutch royal family World War II
Figure 1.--Here is Princess Juliana and one her daugters arriving safely in Britain aboard a Royal Navy destroyer (May 12, 1940). Her mother Queen Wilhelmina would follow the next day. She had wanted to stay and fight, but by this time it was becomingb clear that there would be no protracted fight. This is a colorized image, thus we are no positive Juliana and hr daughter were dressed in orange, but it is interesting.

On leaning of the German invasion, Queen Wilhelmina instructed Princess Juliana and her family to move to Noordeinde Palace in the centre of The Hague (the Dutch capital). Their residence was the more rural Huis ten Bosch Palace. They would spent the nights in a shelter in the gardens of Noordeinde Palace. Wilhelmina ordered Princess Juliana and her daughters to evacuate. This was important, because the NAZIs with Princess Juliana and the children in their hands could force Queen to do literally anything. The plan was for Juliana and her daughters to go to Paris. In World War I, France had been a bastion asginst the Germans. But quickly as the Germans stormed into the Netherlands, this became impossible. So the decusion was made to evacuate to England. Princess Juliana and the children said a tearful goodbye to the Queen in the Hague (May 12). King Geirge VI ordered the Royal Navy to rescue the Dutch royal familhy as well as senior members of her Government. Juliana and the children then boarded a Royal Navy ship. Her German husband, Prince Bernard, accompanied them. This was a difficult decision on his part. He wanted to be with his family, but he was also an officer in the Dutch Army and felt he had an obligation to stay and fight. Queen Wilhelmina also wanted to stay and fight. But it was soon all to clear in the deteriorating military suituation, that the Dutch Army could not hold back the Germans. And there would no real fight. The Dutch Cabinet convinced herv that should leave as well. Gen Wilhelmina called at the palace early in the morningb (May 13) and briefed her on the worsening military situation. The Queen spoke on the phone with King George. She burst into tears after the conversation. Clearly she would have to leave. So the Queen and key governmnt figures were evacuated from the Hague by the Dutch Army. Details on this are confused. She was evacuated by HMS Hereward, a British destroyer which took her and Dutch officials to safety (May 13). The Queen at first hoped to reach the province of Zeeland where the Dutch Army might make a stand. This proved to be impossible, and Hereward set sail for Britain. Queen Wilhelmina describes the events in her menoirs, "Of course I was fully aware of the shattering impression that my departure would make at home, but I considered myself obliged, for the sake of the country, to accept the risk of appearing to have resorted to ignominious flight. If the guerilla against the parachute troops had not cut off all connections with the army fighting on the Grebbe, I could have joined it to share the fate of the soldier and, as William III put it, to be the last man to fall in the last ditch. I knew that this was not granted to me either." I don't think this was mere rhertoric. It think it shows her true mettle. You can see why Churchill admired her. Queen Wilhelmina arrived at Harwich, where the British authorities had a train to London waiting for her. The Queen wrote, "At the station, I was met by King George and by my children, who were very upset and did not understand that I should have had to follow them so soon. The King asked me to be the guest of himself and the Queen, and escorted me to Buckingham Palace." The next day (May 14), the Queen issued another proclamation telling her people that the government had to be moved abroad. "Do not despair. Do everything that is possible for you to do in the country’s best interest. We shall do our best. Long live the fatherland!" Many Dutch people at the time thought the Queen's action was cowardly and she had deserting them. A Maastricht reader comments, "The controversy was not that the Queen did not remain in her castle in The Hague, but that Princess Juliana's husband, a male associated with the crown, did not stay to fight for his new land." Of course it should be pointed out that Prince Bernard was a German prince and married Juliana just before the War. He eventulally became popular with the Dutch people for his performance as a combat pilot and his activities as a liaison officer and personal aide to the Queen during the War. Another reader writes, "I think she won the Dutch people over by refusing to surrender and showed her determination to free Holland of the NAZIs. She was welcomed home at the end of the war. This was in sharp contarast to King Leopold in Belgium who surrendered and stayed."


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Created: 5:36 AM 7/16/2023
Last updated: 8:54 PM 7/16/2023