Queen Wilhelmina

Queen Wilhelmina

Wilhelmina, the daughter of King William III, was born in the Hague, the Netherlands, on 31st August, 1880. She became queen on her father's death on 23rd November 1890. As she was only a child her mother, Queen Emma, acted as regent until 1898.

After being on the throne for 48 years Wilhelmina began considering the idea of abdicating in favour of her daughter Juliana. However, her government managed to persuade her to continue.

When the German Army invaded in May 1940, Wilhelmina moved from the Hague to the extreme south of the country. However, when it became clear that the whole of the Netherlands would be occupied, Wilhelmina and her government fled to London.

Throughout the war Wilhelmina broadcast weekly to her subjects in the Netherlands on Radio Orange where she inspired them to continue fighting against the German occupation.

In March 1945 Wilhelmina she made a brief visit to the Netherlands and finally returned as queen on 2nd May 1945. Three years later, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana and assumed the title of Princess of the Netherlands.

Wilhelmina, who wrote an autobiography, Lonely but not Alone (1960), died at Het Loo, near Apeldoorn, on 28th November, 1962.

Primary Sources

(1) Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (1947)

Last spring the Germans had constructed huge tents in an open space in the Lager. For the whole of the good season each of them had catered for over 1,000 men: now the tents had been taken down, and an excess 2,000 guests crowded our huts. We old prisoners knew that the Germans did not like these irregularities and that something would soon happen to reduce our number.