History repeated itself during the period of suspense experienced by the Dutch people prior to the birth, in 1909, of little Princess Juliana, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and her consort, Prince Henry of Mecklenburg. Was the House of Orange to die out? Would a foreigner sit on the throne of Holland? These were the questions which were agitating the minds of the sub-jects of "the Lily Queen of Tulip Land," to quote the endearing name bestowed upon Queen Wilhelmina by loyal Hol-1 anders. The Queen married in 1901, but the passing years brought no heir to the throne. It was no matter for wonder, therefore, that her simple, kindly people went wild with joy when a little heir to the throne was born.
It was a repetition of the enthusiasm aroused twenty-nine years previously, when the birth of Queen Wilhelmina herself solved the problem of an heirless throne. King William III., her father, found himself, at the age of sixty-two, a childless widower, his two sons having died. For his second wife he took the Princess Emma of Waldeck, an elder sister of the Duchess of Albany, and eighteen months later was born to them a princess, who received the name of Wilhelmina Paulina. Some disappointment, as in 1909, Was felt that the heir was not a prince; but the laws of the Netherlands do not bar the succession of females to the crown, and the Dutch people consoled themselves with the thought that the direct line of the House of Orange might eventually be main-t a i n e d through Princess Wilhelmina. Owing to the guiding influence of a devoted mother, moreover, the Princess de-veloped into one of the bonniest, brightest and most patriotic of Holland's daughters, in spite of the fact that her father, who died when she was ten years of age, had a tendency to spoil her. It was he who encouraged her in that outspokenness, bluntness, and haughtiness which, although it made him laugh, and caused other people to characterise the little princess as a "courageous little maid," could scarcely be said to be good training for a future queen.
Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and her daughter, Princess Juliana, born in 1909
Photo, N.h. Wah
The story has often been told of a rebuke justly administered by Queen Emma, who acted as regent until Wilhelmina had reached the age of eighteen. One day Queen Emma heard a knocking at her bedroom door. "Who is there?" she inquired. "The Queen," came an imperious little voice. "This is not the day for audiences," Queen Emma replied gravely. Presently there was another knocking at the door, and again came the inquiry, "Who is there?" "Your little girl wants to see you," was the somewhat plaintive reply, and, needless to say, the door was opened at once.
On another occasion the little Queen and her English governess, Miss Saxon Winter, while walking were overtaken by a heavy storm. "Hadn't we better get in a tramway car?" suggested Wilhelmina. "Certainly," agreed the governess. "Let everybody get out," commanded the Queen; "I cannot ride in this car with the people." "No," said Miss Winter firmly; "if you don't care to ride with them you must walk home in the rain." And the haughty little Queen did walk.
"But there were sterling qualities in the little girl which quickly revealed themselves. She was patriotic to a degree, loved to dress in the national costume, and as a child displayed a contempt for Dutch people who could not speak their native tongue; for there exists a certain feeling among the aristocracy of Holland that the Dutch language and Dutch ways are not good enough for them. They send their children abroad to be educated, or have them trained by foreign governesses.
On one occasion a young lady who hardly knew a word of Dutch was presented to Queen Wilhelmina, and so addressed her Majesty in German. The Queen, however, looked at her in mock bewilderment, and then remarked that before ladies appeared at Court they should learn to speak their mother tongue. During the time of the Queen's father, French was the correct language of the Court. It is still the official language of diplomacy, but since Queen Wilhelmina's accession, Dutch, and Dutch alone, must be spoken at Court functions.
It is on account of her intense love of everything Dutch - its quaint dress, folk lore, customs, legends, history, and industries - that her Majesty has acquired so much popularity in Holland. Furthermore, she is extremely domesticated. "She is," says one who has come into direct contact with Queen Wilhelmina, "a good housewife, and has a real fondness for all the duties and- handicraft of housekeeping. She gives personal supervision to the dairy in her country palace of Het Loo, and has made butter and cheese with her own hands. She delights in needlework, especially in making lace, with which Dutchwomen's fingers are always busy when there is no more strenuous work to be done. And, like all good Dutchwomen, the 'little Queen' has the instinct of motherhood and a love of children."
And she owes everything to the training of her mother. She it was who, when Wilhelmina exhibited a fondness for dolls, had- a special chalet built for them in the grounds at Loo, with reception-rooms, bedrooms, and a kitchen, in which the young Queen learned to cook food for them and make their clothes. Their dresses were cut down and sewn by her under the supervision of her mother, and on her journeys they were still her companions. On one of her first visits to Germany, the little Royal lady insisted on having a special trunk for her dolls' dresses, remarking that it would be so uncomfortable for them to arrive at the journey's end in the evening tired out with travelling, and without the necessary comforts.
And apparently, even at that age, while fully recognising, and endeavouring at times to make others recognise, the greatness of her position in a manner scarcely consistent with Royal dignity, the princess was also aware of its penalties. She hated crowds and the constant bowing to the greetings of her subjects, and one day was heard to say that she would punish a naughty dolly by making her "go for an hour's drive and bow all the time." At times, too, she must have felt the loneliness from which an "only" Royal child must necessarily suffer. One day she was inspecting her army of dolls ranged round the wall, and one doll persisted in flopping over whenever she stood it up. At last she picked it up and shook it. "Look here," she said, severely, "if you are not good I will make you a queen, and then you will have no one to play with."
The Royal Palace at The Hague, known as "The House in the Wood." 1, was at The Hague that the famous lnternational Peace
Congress of 1899 was held Photo, Photocrom
The Royal Palace, Amsterdam, where Queen Wilhelmina keeps high state once a year. As a home the Queen prefers the quaint old
Palace of Het Loo Photo, photocrom
There is also an incident connected with the childhood of Queen Wilhelmina which illustrates in a striking manner her pluck and courage. It occurred when she was eight years old, and at the time when Socialists and Anarchists were holding daily demonstrations in Amsterdam. With perhaps more hardihood than wisdom, Queen Emma decided to drive through the streets. Suddenly a mob surrounded the carriage, and one of the cowardly brutes threw a filthy red cabbage into the vehicle. Queen Emma promptly fainted. Not so the little princess, however. With eyes blazing and face white with passion, the child rose to her feet. Of course, her voice could not be heard above the shouts of the mob, but at the sight of the defiant child a cheer arose, and the fickle crowd allowed the carriage to proceed on its way without further molestation.
It reminds one of the scene which took place when, after her marriage to Prince Henry, in 1901, there was much haggling in the Dutch Lower House concerning the income that was to be allowed the Prince Consort. The matter culminated in the House refusing to sanction an allowance on the scale proposed by the Government. When the news was brought to the Queen, she flew into a most violent rage. "If they won't do him justice they shall do nothing," she is reported to have said. "I will make over to him half my own income." And an arrangement satisfactory to her alone could satisfy the irate lady.
It cannot be said that in marrying Prince Henry, whom she met at a German watering-place, Queen Wilhelmina pleased her subjects. They dread the shadow of Germany's power, and German influence at
Court. But when her Premier brought her a list of possible consorts, who, from a political standpoint, were desirable husbands, she indignantly tore the paper to pieces. "When I marry I shall please myself without the aid of Ministers or people," she said.
Many scandalous stories have been circulated, particularly prior to the birth of Princess Juliana, regarding the married life of the Queen and her consort. It was asserted that they frequently quarrelled; occupied different suites of rooms; that Prince Henry was a domineering spendthrift, who clashed with the proud spirit of the Queen, and so on - stories as ridiculous as they were false. They all arose out of the prejudice which Prince Henry had to overcome.
Being a German, he had to face the same distrust and misunderstanding that greeted Queen Victoria's consort. There are possibly some people who still remember how in 1854 the ridiculous rumour arose in this country that the Queen's husband had been sent to the Tower on account of his correspondence with Germany. In a letter to Baron Stockmar, dated Windsor Castle, January 24, 1854, the Prince wrote: "You will scarcely credit that my being committed to the Tower was believed all over the country - nay, even that the Queen had been arrested. People surrounded the Tower in thousands to see us brought to it."
This incident is merely mentioned as an illustration of the manner in which Dame Rumour lies, particularly in regard to the lives of celebrated personages. Dame Rumour lied in connection with Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Henry; and, like our own Prince Consort, he has, by his kindly, gallant bearing, and his interest in the country of his adoption, killed the canards, and won the admiration and favour of those who began by disliking him.