Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The heirs of 1914: the Netherlands

In 1914, the little girl who stood to inherit the throne of the Netherlands was about to embark on her education as a princess and a future queen regnant.  Juliana, then aged five, would become her country's second queen and firmly establish the tradition of Dutch monarchs abdicating to ensure a smooth succession.  But in 1914, the princess in the royal nursery in The Hague was the much loved and wanted daughter of a queen regnant and the only hope that her dynasty would continue to occupy the throne.  Juliana wasn't just the only girl in Europe who stood to inherit a crown in 1914, she was the only royal left in her line of succession.  Juliana was pretty special.

Two women who would change the face of royalty in Europe in the 20th century - Queen Wilhelmina with her daughter, Princess Juliana, in 1912.  Their successful reigns, along with that of Juliana's daughter Beatrix, made female rule the norm in the Netherlands

Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina had been born in 1909, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and her consort, Heinrich.  Wilhelmina had been queen since the age of 10 and wasn't shy about showing her strong personality and determined views.   The birth of her only daughter had assured a succession that was about to run out - Wilhelmina had no surviving siblings to help provide heirs.  Juliana, in 1914, was about to start her formal education and the next year a classroom was set up at the Noordeinde Palace for the princess to learn alongside children of her own age.  While the First World War raged, Juliana learned ready for her own accession which would come in 1948 when her mother stepped aside in her favour.  Both queens, along with the third woman to rule the Netherlands as a regnant, were popular and successful at the role assigned them because of a lack of male heirs.  And they made sure to use their power to ensure that future generations would take the throne by birth order and not gender.  The Dutch heir of 1914 was part of a triumvirate of strong queens who changed the face of European monarchy.

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