When Princess Juliana turned 18

The 18th birthday of a crown princess is an important milestone. She is then at the age where she can become queen if necessary and takes a seat on the Council of State. All the more reason for festivities, of which there were plenty in The Hague on 30 April 1927, the date Princess Juliana turned 18.

Carillon concert

The Princess’s Day, as the Haagsche Courant called the day, was ushered in with a carillon concert by J.A. de Zwaan, the carillonneur of St. Jacob’s Tower. After the last deep stroke of eleven o’clock had died away, the Wilhelmus (the song that in 1932 became the Dutch national anthem) sounded. The carillon then performed patriotic and old Dutch songs in succession. These were so well known that the gathered crowd sang along at the top of their voices.

Felicitations and presents

At that time Princess Juliana lived with her parents, Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik, at Palace Noordeinde. In the morning, many flower arrangements and gifts were delivered there.

Around 12.30 p.m. the royal family drove in an open coach from Paleis Noordeinde to the Lange Voorhout palace to have lunch with Queen Mother Emma (Juliana’s grandmother). Afterwards, they returned to Noordeinde Palace.

Driving tour

At two o’clock, the royal family boarded an open carriage, a so-called calèche, for a driving tour through The Hague. The Queen was dressed in a brown cloak with a stole of white fox fur. The Princess wore a light grey fur cape and a broad-brimmed lilac hat, while Prince Hendrik was in admiral’s uniform.

Prinses Juliana
Vertrek voor de rijtoer vanaf Paleis Noordeinde - 30 april 1927 - Coll HGA

Many streets, like Westeinde, were festooned with flags. Cheering sisters stood in front of the Roman Catholic hospital (now Westeinde Hospital). The procession passed through more streets in the centre, including Wagenstraat, where Princess Juliana was given flowers at the Pays Bas hotel.

Prinses Juliana
De rijtoer komt langs Hotel des Pays-Bas Wagenstraat 102 - 30 april 1927 - foto J.B. Hijmans - Coll HGA

Performances at the Binnenhof

At three o’clock sharp they arrived at the Binnenhof, where they took their seats on the steps of the Ridderzaal. Then the performance of song, dance and music could begin.

Prinses Juliana
De koninklijke familie woont het feestspel bij - 30 april 1927 - Coll HGA

As the Binnenhof was only open to invited guests, the performance was repeated at four o’clock at the Buitenhof. The crowd that gathered for this event was so large that spectators were jostled and some people fainted.

On 2 May, the newspaper Haagse Courant carried an angry letter from the management of Philips Eindhoven. Apparently, a large loudspeaker made by a German firm had been set up on the building of the Dutch Senate to broadcast the performance at the Buitenhof. The Philips board pointed out that important work in the field of speaker technology was done in Eindhoven. The use of a German loudspeaker was a national disgrace and a discredit to Dutch industry!

Dansen op het Binnenhof - 30 april 1927 - Coll HGA

Juliana van Stolberg

Princess Juliana was named after Juliana von Stolberg, who was the mother of William of Orange, the founding father of the House of Orange-Nassau. At the age of 23, and already with 3 children, she became a widow when her husband Philips von Hanau died. She later married Count Willem van Nassau, and with him she had 5 sons and 7 daughters. An article praised her dedication to the education of her children and reported that she sowed the ‘seeds of godliness in their youthful hearts’.

Juliana van Stolberg monument
Juliana van Stolberg monument - Na de Tweede Wereldoorlog aan de Koningin Marialaan

It was thus appropriate that on the day of Princess Juliana’s 18th birthday, the foundation stone was laid for the Juliana van Stolberg monument on the Louise de Colignyplein in The Hague. The act was performed by Prime Minister De Geer and was not attended by members of the Royal Family. The newspaper Het Vaderland explained that this was a standing tradition: ‘The royal family never participates in the laying of a foundation stone, because this, by its very nature, cannot guarantee completion’. Princess Juliana did come to Bezuidenhout three (!) years later to unveil the monument. Footage of this ceremony. 

Juliana van Stolberg
Onthulling van het monument van Juliana van Stolberg - 23 april 1930 - foto A.M. Visser van Weeren - Coll HGA

Additional festivities

Princess Juliana’s 18th birthday also meant saying goodbye to her governess, Miss Oosterlee, who was promoted to honorary lady of the House Order of Orange. The Princess got her own household, which she could finance from her allowance of Dfl. 200,000. According to the conversion website of the Central Bureau of Statistics, that would be €3,736,488 today. I could not find a critical note in any of the newspapers for this amount, which is considerably more than the €1.6 million allowance that Princess Amalia is waiving for the time she is still a student.

Especially for the occasion, a new photograph of the Princess was taken at Het Loo Palace, which was also sold as a postcard.

Prinses Juliana
Ansichtkaart - foto A.C. Stokhuijzen - uitgever Weenenk & Snel, Den Haag - 1927 - Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Het Geheugen

And various commemorative plates were made: some of them can be found in the DenRon Collections. It is worth taking a look at this digital museum about our royal family. www.denroncollections.nl

Herdenkingsbord Prinses Juliana
Ontw. Chris van der Hoef - Plateelfabriek Zuid-Holland - 1927 - DenRon Collections

Royal household

Members of a royal household always wear an identifying monogram, known as a chiffre.  Juliana herself designed the chiffre for her household. It is a folded piece of ribbon with a blue enamelled letter J in art deco, the style very fashionable in 1927.

Prinses Juliana
Chiffre voor hofdames - Ontwerp Prinses Juliana - 1927 - Koninklijke Verzamelingen Den Haag

The fairy tale on the Hofvijver

Celebrations continued into the evening, with a spectacle on the Hofvijver. The royal family, including Queen Emma, sat at the windows of the Binnenhof complex, looking at the beautifully lit Hofvijver. From the doorway of what is now the Hague Historical Museum came a procession of naval heroes in 17th century dress. On the isle, the royal standard was raised and cannons fired five salutes. Seven admiralty sloops then crossed the Hofvijver, with students of the nautical college in Scheveningen at the oars.

Vijverfeest ter gelegenheid van de 18de verjaardag van prinses Juliana - 30 april 1927 - Coll HGA

Five searchlights placed at the corners of the pond by the Royal Engineers illuminated the sloops and their passengers. Among them were persons re-enacting Maarten Harpertsz. Tromp and Michiel de Ruyter, 17th century admirals of the fleet who fought and won important sea battles against the British. Meanwhile, the ‘Die Hagezanghers’ sang appropriate patriotic and religious songs.

A few weeks after this celebration, the painter (later master forger) Han van Meegeren surprised the princess with a special present. He had been able to observe the festivities from his studio,  and he had recorded them in a painting.

Hofvijverfeest - Han van Meegeren - 1927 - Koninklijke Verzamelingen Den Haag

At nine o’clock, one of the boats moored at the small jetty, embellished with golden lions on the four corner posts, that had been specially built for the occasion. Moments later, the Queen, Princess and Prince came out to embark on a half-hour tour. They were enthusiastically  cheered on by the spectators.
Shortly afterwards, the Royal party left and went to the Malieveld for the fireworks. A festive end to a beautiful day!

Would you like to know more about counts, countesses, princes, princesses, kings and queens in The Hague? Invite family, friends or colleagues to do the Orange Walk.

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