Queen Beatrix is the current Queen of Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. She was born at the Soestdijk Palace in Baam on 31 January 1938 and was christened Princess Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands, of Orange-Nassau and of Lippe-Biesterfeld.
Beatrix was the eldest daughter of Crown Princess Juliana and her consort Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfield. The Crown Princess Juliana was 28 years old at the time of the birth. In the following years the Princess gave birth to her second daughter, Princess Irene in 1939, Princess Margriet in 1943 and Princess Christina in 1947.
When German forces invaded the Kingdom of the Netherlands in May 1940 the Royal family went into exile in England. When Juliana pressed to take the family to safety in Canada the Prince argued that he should stay with her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, to fight the Germans and represent Dutch interests in London. His decision may well have been influenced by his need to repudiate his background as a German prince who un 1937 had married into the Dutch Royal family. He became a pilot in the Battle of Britain and then became a key planner in the Allied War effort.
In the meantime, in June 1940 Queen Juliana went with her daughters to Ottawa in Canada. Queen Juliana and the children were immensely popular in Canada. They enjoyed a quiet life living at Stornaway, the official residence of the Leader of the Opposition. Juliana and Irene attended the local Rockcliffe Park Public School.
On 2 August 1945 the Royal family were able to return to the Netherlands. There, Beatrice attended the progressive primary school De Werkplaais in Bilthoven. Prince Bernhard is said to have been unhappy with the manners picked up by his daughters in Canada. Seven year old Beatrice constantly asked to go back to Canada and talked with her mouth full.
Once the war was over Princess Juliana established an annual gift of tulips from the Dutch to the Canadian government in gratitude for their warm treatment of her family.
After World War II Queen Wilhelmina led a quiet life and withdrew from public duties. When she abdicated in 1948 Juliana became Queen and Beatrice became, at the age of 10, heir presumptive to the throne of the Netherlands.
From April 1950 until 1956, Princess Beatrix attended secondary school at the Incrementum. Thereafter she completed a law degree attended Leiden University and gained a law degree in July 1961.
In July 1965 Princess Beatrix announced her intention to marry Claus von Amsberg. It was a deeply unpopular move. Claus von Amsberg had been a German diplomat during the war and in his youth he had been a member of the Nazi Wehrmacht and Hitler Youth. Angry Dutchmen protested in the streets with republican zeal,. Queen Juliana tried to call off the wedding but it went ahead on in Amsterdam on 10 March 1966. When someone from the Provos counter culture movement threw a smoke grenade at the wedding carriage a bitter street battle broke out with the police. For some time after that day there was a suspicion that Princess Beatrice might be the last member of the House of Orange to reign in the Netherlands.
The couple had three children. Prince Willen-Alexander was bprn in 1967, Prince Friso was born in 1968 and Prince Constantine was born in 1969.
As time passed the Dutch people came to sympathise with Prince Claus, who objected to the red tape that prohibited his involvement in third world causes, such that when he died in 2002 he was considered the most popular member of the Dutch Royal family.
On 30 April 1980 Priincess Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands following the abdication of her mother at the age of 70. Her formal investiture was marred by violence. Socialist squatters sought publicity by protesting against the monarchy and state of housing in the country. There were ugly clashes with the police.
After the inauguration Queen Beatrice was instructed to keep a low profile. She is rarely quoted in the press. Under the Dutch constitution she has little say in domestic politics but has considerable liberty in foreign affairs. In 1994 the Dutch Government opened an embassy in Jordon on her request.
In the years between 2002 and 2004 the Queen suffered personal loss. On 6 October 2002 her husband died following a long battle with illness .During his life he suffered from depression, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. On 20 March 2004 her 93 year old mother died in her sleep. Just 8 months later her father died of cancer.
In April 2005 when Queen Beatrice celebrated the 25th year of her reign she gave a rare interview on Dutch TV and there was a celebratory concert in Dan Square, Amsterdam.