Beatrix of the Netherlands

From New World Encyclopedia
Queen of the Netherlands
Queen Beatrix in May 2008
Queen Beatrix in May 2008
Reign April 30, 1980 – April 30, 2013
Full name Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard
Titles Princess of Orange-Nassau
Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld
Born January 31, 1938
Soestdijk Palace, Baarn, Netherlands
Predecessor Queen Juliana
Successor Willem-Alexander
Consort Prince Claus
Royal House House of Orange-Nassau
Royal anthem Het Wilhelmus
Father Prince Bernhard
Mother Queen Juliana

Beatrix (Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard) (January 31, 1938 - ) reigned as Queen of the Netherlands from 1980 until her abdication in 2013, after a reign of exactly 33 years. She is the eldest daughter of Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Upon her mother's accession in 1948, she became heir presumptive. Her mother abdicated on April 30, 1980, as her mother, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands had abdicated in Juliana's favor.

Wilhelmina's mother, Queen Emma, had acted as regent during her childhood so Beatrix followed in the footsteps of four remarkable women. The Netherlands had female heads of state or an acting head of state from the end of the nineteenth century through until the start of the twenty-first, beginning with Emma and ending with Beatrix. Beatrix, however, unlike her two predecessors, has given birth to a male heir, Willem-Alexander. Beatrix has continued to give the Netherlands moral leadership, building on the legacy of her mother and grandmother. The three women steered the nation through loss of its empire, the third largest in the world at the end of the nineteenth century, through the Great Depression, World War I, and World War II and helped to shape the direction that Holland has taken since the end of the last world war as it helped pioneer the European Union to secure peace and has contributed generously to the peace-making missions of the United Nations and to the development of the Third World.

Beatrix, who has a degree in law, championed the ideals of democracy and freedom around the world, receiving the gratitude of Nelson Mandela for her nation's role in isolating the white minority regime.[1] "Solidarity," Beatrix said, "is the universally accepted basis of co-existence."[2] She stressed personal responsibility, respect for others including other faiths and cultures so that, through dialogue, balanced solutions can be found to solve the problems that confront the world. Privilege of birth and of wealth has not blinded the Queens of the Netherlands to concern for the welfare of other people, of other nations or for the peace and stability of the world.

On Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), April 30, 2013, Beatrix abdicated in favor of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, who became the first King of the Netherlands in 123 years, and she resumed the title of princess.

Early life

Princess Beatrix was born as Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau and Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld on January 31, 1938, at the Soestdijk Palace in Baarn, Netherlands. She is the eldest daughter of Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.[3] Beatrix' five godparents are King Leopold III of Belgium, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, Princess Elisabeth zu Erbach-Schönberg, Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg, and Countess Allene de Kotzebue.[4] When Beatrix was one year old, in 1939, her first sister, Princess Irene, was born.[3]

When World War II broke out in the Netherlands in May 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled to London, United Kingdom. One month later, Beatrix went to Ottawa, Canada, with her mother, Juliana, and her sister Irene, while her father Bernhard and Queen Wilhelmina remained in London organizing the government in exile and broadcasting weekly to her people in Holland.[3] The family lived at the Stornoway residence. Her second sister Princess Margriet was born in 1943.[3] During their exile in Canada, Beatrix attended nursery and the primary school,[5] Rockcliffe Park Public School.

The family returned to the Netherlands on August 2, 1945. Beatrix went to the progressive primary school De Werkplaats in Bilthoven. Her third sister, Princess Christina, was born in 1947.[3] On September 6, 1948, her mother Juliana succeeded her grandmother Wilhelmina as Queen of the Netherlands, and Beatrix became the heir presumptive to the throne of the Netherlands at the age of 10.


In April 1950, Princess Beatrix entered the Incrementum, a part of Baarnsch Lyceum, where, in 1956, she passed her school-graduation examinations in the subjects of arts and classics.

On January 31, 1956, Princess Beatrix celebrated her 18th birthday. From that date, under the Constitution of the Netherlands, she was entitled to assume the Royal Prerogative. At that time, her mother installed her in the Council of State.

The same year, at Leiden University her university studies began. In her first years at the university, she studied sociology, jurisprudence, economics, parliamentary history, and constitutional law. In the course of her studies she also attended lectures on the cultures of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles, the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, international affairs, international law, history, and [[European Union|European law.

The Princess also visited various European and international organizations in Geneva, Strasbourg, Paris, and Brussels. She was also an active member of the VVSL (Female Union for Students in Leiden), now called L.S.V.Minerva. In the summer of 1959, she passed her preliminary examination in law, and she obtained her law degree in July 1961.

Political involvement and marriage

Her appearance on the political scene was almost immediately marked by controversy. In 1965, Princess Beatrix became engaged to the German aristocrat Claus von Amsberg, a diplomat working for the German Foreign Office. Her marriage to him caused a massive protest during the wedding day in Amsterdam on March 10, 1966. Prince Claus had served in the Hitler Youth and the Wehrmacht and was, therefore, associated by a part of the Dutch with German Nazism. Protests included the memorable slogan "Geef mijn fiets terug" (Give me back my bicycle), a reference to the memory of occupying German soldiers confiscating Dutch bicycles. A smoke bomb was thrown at the wedding carriage by a group of Provos causing a violent street battle with the police. As time went on, however, Prince Claus became one of the most popular members of the Dutch monarchy and his 2002 death was widely mourned.

An even more violent riot occurred on April 30, 1980, during the investiture (sovereigns of the Netherlands are not crowned as such) of Queen Beatrix. Some people, including anarchist squatters, used the occasion to protest against poor housing conditions in the Netherlands and against the monarchy in general, using the also memorable slogan "Geen woning; geen Kroning" (No house; no coronation). Clashes with the police and security forces turned brutal and violent. The latter event is reflected in contemporary Dutch literature in the books of A.F.Th. van der Heijden.

Queen of the Netherlands

On April 30, 1980, Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands when her mother abdicated. This also made her son crown prince, the first in Dutch history since 1884.[6] She approached her role as queen with more formality than Queen Juliana, and many admired her professionalism. While the monarchy remains popular, in recent years some members of the Dutch media have openly criticized the royal family. Journalists have also published "tabloid" stories, similar to the stories that have covered the British House of Windsor for decades. Some Dutch subjects view the monarchy as an ongoing "soap opera," rather than an institution that plays an important role in Dutch society. As a result, Beatrix's current challenge is to keep the Dutch monarchy modern, efficient, and most of all, in tune with the wishes of the Dutch people.

As queen, Beatrix wielded more power than most of Europe’s reigning monarchs. In domestic matters, she had little political say; however, in international relations, the queen had much more latitude. It was once reported that she threatened to dismiss a cabinet minister if he turned down her request to open a Dutch embassy in Jordan. Beatrix had a weekly audience with the Prime Minister, which he is said to regard as a "two-way consultative process." The Council of State, of which she was President, has a constitutional duty to advise the government. She understood her role as to "be consulted, to warn and to encourage."[6]

On October 6, 2002, the Queen's husband, Prince Claus died after a long illness. A year and a half later, her mother died after a long battle with senile dementia, while her father succumbed to cancer in December 2004.

On February 8, 2005, Beatrix received a rare honorary doctorate from Leiden University, an honor the Queen does not usually accept.[7] Her mother and grand-mother had also received honorary doctorates from Leiden. In her acceptance speech, she reflected on the monarchy and her own 25 years as queen.

On April 29 and 30, 2005, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25th anniversary of her reign). She was interviewed on Dutch television, was offered a concert on Dam Square in Amsterdam, and a celebration took place in The Hague, the country's seat of government.

Beatrix is an honorary member of the Club of Rome and a member the Bilderberg Group.

In 1998, with King Juan Carlos of Spain, Beatrix took part in ceremonies of reconciliation between their two nations "to bury memories of old political rivalries and religious divisions" dating back to the period when the Dutch were subject to Spanish rule, which ended in 1649.[6]


In a broadcast on national media on January 28, 2013 Beatrix announced her intention to abdicate on April 30 (Queen's Day), when she would have been on the throne for exactly 33 years. Beatrix stated that it was time to "place the responsibility for the country in the hands of a new generation."[8] Her heir apparent was her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander.[9] She was the third successive Dutch monarch to abdicate, following her grandmother and her mother.[9] The broadcast was followed by a statement from Prime Minister Mark Rutte who paid tribute to Beatrix, saying "Since her investiture in 1980 she has applied herself heart and soul to Dutch society."[8]

The official program for the abdication and investiture took place on April 30, 2013. The Queen signed the Instrument of Abdication in the Vroedschapkamer (also known as Mozeszaal) in the Royal Palace, Amsterdam at 10:07 a.m. local time. With the completion of her signature she was no longer monarch. The investiture of Willem-Alexander as King took place in the afternoon in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.[10]


Princess Beatrix continues to undertake some royal duties and is patron of many organizations. She now lives in the small moated Drakensteyn Castle near the village of Lage Vuursche.[11]

Cultural impact

Beatrix has given her name to a number of facilities in the Netherlands and beyond. These include:

  • Streekziekenhuis Koningin Beatrix, regional hospital in Beatrixpark, Winterswijk.[12]
  • Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba.
  • Reina Beatrix School in Aruba.[13]
  • Queen Beatrix Hospital Medical Center, Sint Eustatius.[14]
  • Queen Beatrix Chair in Dutch Studies at UC Berkeley
  • Queen Beatrix Nursing Home, Albion Park Rail, NSW, Australia.[15]

A few parks in the country also bear her name:

  • Beatrixpark in the Oud-Zuid neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
  • Beatrixpark in Almere.
  • Beatrixpark in 's-Hertogenbosch.
  • Beatrixpark in Utrecht.
  • Beatrixpark in Schiedam.


Beatrix and her late husband, Prince Claus, have three sons:

  • King Willem-Alexander (born 1967)
  • Prince Friso (born 1968)
  • Prince Constantijn (born 1969)


Queen Beatrix and her late husband, Prince Claus, have eight grandchildren:

  • Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands, second in line to the throne, after her father
  • Princess Alexia of the Netherlands
  • Princess Ariane of the Netherlands
  • Countess Luana of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg
  • Countess Zaria of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg
  • Countess Eloise of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg
  • Count Claus-Casimir of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg
  • Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg

Titles, Styles, Honors and Arms

Titles and Styles

From birth till her inauguration as queen she had the following name and titles, to which she reverted after her abdication: Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld.[16]

Queen Beatrix's titles were: "Beatrix, by the Grace of God Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, etc. etc. etc."

The triple "etc." refers to the title Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld and the following titles formerly borne by the princes of Orange. These being dormant titles, they are retained in the masculine form.

  • Marquis of Veere and Vlissingen
  • Count of Katzenelnbogen (now in Germany), Vianden (now in Luxembourg), Diez and Spiegelberg (both now in Germany), Buren, Leerdam, and Culemborg
  • Viscount of Antwerp (now in Belgium)
  • Baron of Breda, Diest (now in Belgium), Beilstein (now in Germany), the town of Grave and the lands of Cuijk, IJsselstein, Cranendonck, Eindhoven, Liesveld, Herstal (now in Belgium), Warneton, Arlay and Nozeroy (both now in France)
  • Hereditary Lord and Seigneur of Ameland
  • Lord of Besançon (now in France), Borculo, Bredevoort, Bütgenbach (now in Belgium), Clundert, Daasburg, Geertruidenberg, Hooge en Lage Zwaluwe, 't Loo, Lichtenvoorde, Montfoort, Naaldwijk, Niervaart, Polanen, Steenbergen, Sint-Maartensdijk, Sankt Vith (now in Belgium), Soest, Ter Eem, Turnhout (now in Belgium), Willemstad, and Zevenbergen.

She signed official documents "Beatrix" and was addressed as "Your Majesty" (Dutch: "Uwe Majesteit"). Queen Beatrix's mother, Queen Juliana, frowned upon this title. She preferred to be addressed as "Mevrouw," Dutch for "Madam." Queen Beatrix re-introduced the Royal Style of Majesty when addressing her.[17]


Beatrix has received honors and awards from countries around the world, both during her life as a princess and as a monarch. In her capacity as the Sovereign she was Grand Master of the Military Order of William (Militaire Willemsorde) and the other Dutch orders of merit. She is a Stranger Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the 1,187th Dame of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain, and she has received numerous other medals and decorations.

Queen Beatrix International Airport in Oranjestad, Aruba was named in her honor.

Her University of Leiden honorary doctorate was awarded in 2005, for her commitment to democracy and freedom and "the responsibilities that go with it."[5]


Beatrix's legacy is closely linked with that of her great-great grandmother's, who acted as regent, with her grandmother's and with her mother's, Juliana. These women served as heads of state of the Netherlands from the end of the nineteenth century into the beginning of the twenty-first century, a unique achievement. They oversaw their nation's loss of its empire, gave moral leadership through the Great Depression, World War I, and World War II and helped to shape the direction that Holland has taken since the end of the last world war. Some Dutch are "uneasy about the extent of the influence Beatrix exerts behind the scenes"[6] but like her mother and grandmother she has accepted the role of constitutional monarch and has not tried to interfere politically.

Her grandmother's passion for freedom and her mother's for social welfare found expression in Beatrix's own commitments. In 1996, she toured South Africa on a state visit. Both Beatrix and her husband have received the Order of Good Hope from South Africa, the nation's highest honor. In 1999, Nelson Mandela visited Amsterdam and at a Banquet paid tribute not only to Beatrix but to her mother and grandmother and to the Dutch people as a whole for being in "the forefront of the world campaign to isolate the apartheid regime." He praised Beatrix for her "commitment to a peaceful and equitable world."[1] It is no accident that the International Court of Justice and its chambers, the Peace Palace, are housed in the Dutch capital. Speaking on Christmas Day, 2001 Beatrix stressed that "Justice is everywhere recognized as the basis of human society." that "Solidarity is the universally accepted basis of coexistence" and called on all people to take personal responsibility to find non-violent ways of resolving disputes. "Desire for vengeance," she said, "against deeds of hatred offers no solution." "An eye for an eye makes the world blind" but "if we wish to choose the other path, we will have to search for ways to break the spiral of animosity." The religions of the world, she said, all respect the sanctity of life but religions are not immune from "false preaching." When "the common good is desecrated and human rights are defiled, one must lay down clear limits." "To fight evil," the Queen challenged, "one must also recognize one's own responsibility. The values for which we stand must be expressed in the way we think of, and how we deal with, our fellow humans."[2]


Patrilineal descent

Beatrix's patriline is the line from which she is descended father to son.

Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations—which means that if Beatrix were to choose an historically accurate house name it would be Lippe, as all her male-line ancestors have been of that house.

House of Lippe (claimed descent from Saxon kings)

  1. Hermann I of Lippe, 1071-1126
  2. Hermann II of Lippe, 1119-1160
  3. Bernhard II of Lippe, 1151-1224
  4. Hermann III of Lippe, 1175-1229
  5. Bernhard III of Lippe, 1197-1265
  6. Bernhard IV of Lippe, 1240-1275
  7. Simon I of Lippe, d. 1344
  8. Otto of Lippe, d. 1360
  9. Simon III of Lippe, d. 1410
  10. Bernhard VI of Lippe, 1366-1415
  11. Simon IV of Lippe, 1404-1429
  12. Bernhard VII of Lippe, 1429-1511
  13. Simon V, Count of Lippe, 1471-1536
  14. Bernhard VIII, Count of Lippe, 1527-1563
  15. Simon VI, Count of Lippe, 1554-1613
  16. Simon VII, Count of Lippe-Detmold, 1587-1627
  17. Jobst Herman, Count of Lippe-Sternberg, 1625-1678
  18. Rudolf Ferdinand, Count of Lippe-Sternberg, 1671-1726
  19. Friedrich, Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1705-1781
  20. Karl of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1735-1810
  21. (Wilhelm) Ernst of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1777-1840
  22. Julius Peter, Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1812-1884
  23. Count Ernst of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1842-1904
  24. Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1872-1934
  25. Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1911-2004
  26. Beatrix of the Netherlands, 1938-

House of Orange-Nassau
Born: 31 January 1938; 

Preceded by:
Queen of the Netherlands
Succeeded by: Willem-Alexander
Other offices
Preceded by:
Huberta Deuse
Line of succession to the British throne Succeeded by: The King of the Netherlands


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nelson Mandela, Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in his honour hosted by Queen Beatrix, Amsterdam - The Netherlands March 11, 1999. Retrieved Devember 12, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, Courage and Wisdom are Needed, Excerpt from the Christmas Message Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, December 26, 2001. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Beatrix: Youth Royal House of the Netherlands. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  4. De vijf peetouders van prinses Beatrix The Memory of the Netherlands. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Dutch Royal House, Beatrix: Education Royal House of the Netherlands. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Geoffrey Hindley, The Royal Families of Europe (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2000, ISBN 978-0786708284).
  7. Honorary doctorate Leiden University for Queen Beatrix Simply Amsterdam, February 8, 2005. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dutch Queen to abdicate in April for son Al Jazeera, January 28, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to abdicate for son BBC, January 28, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  10. Programme of the abdication and investiture Royal House of the Netherlands. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  11. Drakensteyn Castle Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  12. Streekziekenhuis Koningin Beatrix Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  13. Schools Visit Aruba. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  14. Queen Beatrix Medical Center St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  15. Queen Beatrix Nursing Home Zadro Constructions. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  16. HRH Princess Beatrix, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld, etc. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  17. Conny van den Bor, Queen Beatrix - still impeccable after 30 years Radio Netherlands Worldwide, April 29, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2019.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Blom, J.C.H. and Emiel Lamberts. History of the Low Countries. New York: Berghahn Books, 1998. ISBN 978-1571810847
  • Hindley, Geoffrey. The Royal Families of Europe. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2000. ISBN 978-0786708284
  • Hoffman, William. Queen Juliana: The Story of the Richest Woman in the World. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. ISBN 978-0151465316
  • Hooker, Mark T. The History of Holland. The Greenwood histories of the modern nations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0313306587
  • Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix. A Transatlantic Friendship: Addresses. Roosevelt Study Center publications, no. 12. Middelburg, Netherlands: Roosevelt Study Center, 1992. ISBN 978-9071654107

External links

All links retrieved September 26, 2023.


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