Queen Juliana of the Netherlands


Portrait of Queen JulianaHer Royal Highness Princess Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina (1909-2004) reigned the Kingdom of the Netherlands as Queen Juliana from 1948 till 1980 (photo: RVD). She was the daughter of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld on 7 January 1937. Four daughters were born to Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard: Beatrix, Irene, Margriet and Christina.


The German invasion on 10 May 1940 forced the Prince and Princess and their two daughters to leave the Netherlands for the United Kingdom; the Princess remained there for a month before taking the children to Canada, where she lived in Rockcliffe, a suburb of Ottawa, until the Netherlands was liberated. During the war, the Princess visited Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.


In April 1945 she returned with Queen Wilhelmina to the liberated part of the Netherlands, settling in Breda. She took part in a relief operation for the people in the northern part of the country, where the famine of the previous winter had claimed many victims. On 2 August 1945 Princess Juliana was reunited with her family on Dutch soil. After the German capitulation in May 1945, the Princess took part in various relief operations to help the victims of the occupation.


Queen Juliana signing the transfer of sovereignty to IndonesiaIn the first year of her reign, it was principally the Indonesian question that claimed Queen Juliana's attention. In 1949, she signed the documents transferring sovereignty to Indonesia in the Royal Palace on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. On 15 December 1954 Queen Juliana gave her assent to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which formed the basis for cooperation between the three remaining parts of the Kingdom: the Netherlands, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles.


During her reign, Queen Juliana showed a very great interest in social issues. She made frequent visits to hospitals, convalescent centres, sanatoria, homes for the elderly and children's homes. On the international front, she was particularly interested in the problems of developing countries, the refugee problem and child welfare throughout the world.


In 1966, at the opening of the General Assembly of the International Union for Child Welfare (in the Netherlands the Children's Aid Scheme), Queen Juliana launched a new project entailing studies of child care and protection methods which could be applied on a broad scale as part of local or regional development plans. The Queen also provided financial and material support.


Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, silver wedding 1962When she and Prince Bernhard celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in 1962, they donated both land and funds to make possible the establishment of youth centres throughout the Netherlands. On her Silver Jubilee in 1973, she presented the large sum of money that had been raised by the National Silver Jubilee Committee to organisations for children in need throughout the world. Queen Juliana decided that the gift from the nation which she received on her seventieth birthday in 1979 should be donated to the International Year of the Child.


In radio and television broadcasts on 31 January 1980, Queen Juliana announced that she would abdicate on 30 April 1980 in favour of her daughter Beatrix. In her speech, she expressed the hope that she could continue to serve the country after her abdication. She became Honorary Chair of the National Committee of the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 and continued to pay frequent visits to care institutions.

Even before the official start of the Year she invited several mentally handicapped youngsters at her home. On New Year's Day 1981 she presented the year in a nationwide radio and television broadcast. She asked for support and understanding for the many disabled in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, in stead of pity.


Nansen MedalIn 1983, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard went to the Netherlands Antilles to visit the projects which were financed from the money presented to the Princess as a gift on her seventieth birthday. Since the early 1990s, Princess Juliana withdrew gradually from public life.


On 15 September 1955, at a ceremony held in the Council Chamber of the Palais des Nations, the Nansen Medal Award Committee presented the Nansen Medal for 1954 to Eleanor Roosevelt and the Nansen Medal for 1955 to Queen Juliana, who was represented by Baron Bentinck, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Swiss Government. The award for 1955 was made to Queen Juliana in recognition of the stimulating initiatives taken by her since the Second World War to further the solution of the problems of refugees.





The In Memoriam for Queen Juliana at the Dutch Royal House website.



Related person


Bernhard, prince of the Netherlands



Stamp catalogue


Netherlands                         13 March 1979





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last revised: 1 March 2010