Soestdijk Rob Oo

Soestdijk Palace

For anyone who experienced the reign of Queen Juliana between 1948 and 1980, the palace at Soestdijk is forever associated with the parades that took place there every April 30th to mark Queen’s Day, the Dutch national holiday from 1949 until 2013, and the queen’s birthday. Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld moved into the palace in 1937 and made it their permanent home. With the exception of the five-year exile in the UK and Canada during World War II, they lived there until their deaths in 2004.

Some interesting facts:

  • Prince Willem III of Orange-Nassau (1650-1702) was the first royal owner of the estate. In 1674 he purchased it from Jacob de Graeff, whose father, a rich Amsterdam merchant, had been Willem’s guardian.
  • The house was inherited through the years by several Princes of Orange until it was confiscated in 1795 by the French Republican troops that had invaded the Netherlands. A year later, the French donated the palace to the people of the Netherlands.
  • The palace was used by Napoleon’s brother when he was King of the Netherlands from 1806 until 1810, after which it became one of Napoleon’s palaces.
  • In 1815, after the Netherlands had regained its independence from France, the Dutch people donated the palace to Crown Prince Willem, the later King Willem II, as a token of gratitude for his bravery during the Battle of Waterloo
  • When Queen Wilhelmina inherited the palace upon her mother’s death in 1934, she designated it as the future home of her daughter, Crown Princess Juliana.
  • By 1970 maintenance of the palace became so much of a financial burden that in 1970 Queen Juliana sold the palace to the state, with a lifetime right of residence. The government offered one million guilders; the queen asked 3.3 million. Both parties agreed to a binding appraisal, which to the good fortune of the queen ended up exceeding her asking price by 900,000 guilders. And thus, the queen sold the palace for 4.2 million guilders to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • After Juliana and Bernhard’s death no new royals took up residence in the palace. In 2017, the state sold it to a Real Estate conglomerate, the MeyerBergman Erfgoed Groep, which specializes in buying, repurposing and maintaining historic buildings.

For more about Soestdijk Palace, get Issue 52, of Dutch the magazine.

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Original article by: Tom Bijvoet