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The Queen of The Netherlands, Wilhelmina - may 1940

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands [1880-1962] was an iron lady. Her reign was from 1890 - 1948. The first eight years of her formal reign her duties were borne by her mother, Emma. In 1898 she became the formal and acting Queen of the Netherlands, aged 18.

Wilhelmina traditionally had a strong band with the German Royal House, to which she was related. She spent much of her time in Germany. This changed when WWI broke out. The ties with the German Royal House were cut off. Although Wilhelmina had lost all respect for the German Kaiser, he was offered save shelter in November 1918 in the Netherlands anyhow, much against the wishes of the Allied forces. Queen Wilhelmina pushed through however, but not out of sympathy but out of basic respect for the family-ties. The Queen refused however to meet the former Kaiser even once.

Wilhelmina was a Queen that intervened intensively with national affairs. She had quite a tendency to instruct senior members of the Cabinet to alter their plans according to her desires. She was a Queen that cared much for a strong defence and as such she felt frustrated to witness the decline of the army during the interbellum.

Queen Wilhelmina was married to Hendrik van Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They got only one child, Juliana [Queen to be, during the era 1948-1980].

Queen Wilhelmina was more or less forced to leave the country at 13 May 1940, when General Winkelman had assured her that her presence in London was much desired and that he could no longer secure her safety in the Netherlands. The Queen herself had desired to stay in the country and continue to support the troops until the bitter end. It was only months later that she started to appreciate Winkelman's advice.

Queen Wilhelmina would become the symbol of Dutch resistance and perseverance during the War. She spoke on the radio [Radio Orange] from London on a regular basis, which was more of a moral boost to the supressed Dutch people in the Netherlands than she realised. Churchill refered to Queen Wilhelmina as "the only man in the Dutch Government", indicating that she was a firm and determined head of state (and that the Dutch politicians were all but ...).

After the war Queen Wilhelmina tried to reform the Dutch Governmental system, and obtain more power to the head of state. The politics during the first four decades of the 20th century had convinced her that politicians were hardly ever suitable to lead her country in the best way. Her attempts to grab more power failed. When the Netherlands East Indies were lost in 1948, after severe political pressure from the United States, Queen Wilhelmina was very disappointed and as such she decided to abdicate in 1948, making room for her daughter, Juliana.

Queen Wilhelmina practically vanished from public life after her abdication. She was hardly ever seen in public, mostly concentrating on her favorite activity: painting. In 1962 she died. She was burried in the Royal Chambres in Delft. To the war-generation Queen Wilhelmina would however remain Queen of Queens.

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