Wilhelmina was queen for almost 58 years: the longest reign since the start of the Dutch constitutional monarchy in 1813. She led the country through two world wars and the reconstruction that followed.

Too young
Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria was born at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. As the only surviving child of King William III, she was the heir to the throne. But Wilhelmina was just ten years old when the king died, so her mother Emma took over as regent until Wilhelmina's 18th birthday.

Jubilation
Thanks to her mother's matchmaking skills, Wilhelmina was introduced to a certain Heinrich zu Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Hendrik would eventually become her husband. The couple remained childless for a long time, leading to fears amongst the public that a German relative would inherit the throne... But on 30 April 1909, Princess Juliana arrived, to public jubilation.

Terraced house
In World War II, when Wilhelmina had already served as queen for 50 years, the royal family were forced to flee from the Germans. Wilhelmina spoke to her people through Radio Orange, broadcast from England, to keep their spirits up. On her return to the Netherlands, Wilhelmina lived in an ordinary terraced house in The Hague for a while, out of solidarity with the public.

White funeral
Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948. Her daughter Juliana was crowned queen, while Wilhelmina herself withdrew from the public eye and lived at Het Loo Palace. Wilhelmina died at the age of 82, and by her own request was buried at the New Church in an all-white funeral service. A number of books have been written about her over the years, alongside her own 1959 autobiography, ‘Lonely, but not alone'.

 

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