Wilhelmina of the Netherlands

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Wilhelmina (Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria; 31 August 1880 - 28 November 1962) was Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. She ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial empire. Outside the Netherlands she is primarily remembered for her role in World War II, in which she proved to be a great inspiration to the Dutch resistance.

Contents

Early life

Princess Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, was born on 31 August 1880 in The Hague, Netherlands. She was the only child of King William III and his second wife, Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont. Her childhood was characterised by a close relationship with her parents, especially with her father, who was 63 years of age when she was born.

King William III had three sons with his first wife, Sophie of Württemberg. However, when Wilhelmina was born, William had already outlived two of them and only the childless Prince Alexander and the King's uncle Prince Frederick of the Netherlands were alive, so under the Semi-Salic system of inheritance that was in place in the Netherlands until 1887, she was third in line to the throne from birth. When Prince Frederick died a year later in 1881, she became second in line. When Wilhelmina was four, Alexander died and the young girl became heiress presumptive.

King William III died on 23 November 1890, and, although Princess Wilhelmina became Queen of the Netherlands instantly, her mother, Emma, was named regent.

In 1895, Queen Wilhelmina visited Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who penned a crisp evaluation in her diary:

Marriage and succession

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