A Princess is Born – 31 January 1938

It was a cold and stormy day. On Monday 31 January 1938, after waiting for many days, the first child of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was born, just over a year after their marriage. The official communiqué said:

HRH Princess Juliana today, the 31st of January 1938 in the morning at 9.47am, has given birth to a healthy daughter.

The condition of mother and child is very satisfying at the moment.

Dr. J. de Groot, Dr. C.L. de Jongh.

Already between 10am and 10.30am the bells of towers all over the country tolled, and 51 salutes were fired to celebrate the birth of the little princess, who weighed 7 pounds and was 52 cm tall. All over the country flags were waving and people were celebrating. It is good she didn’t arrive in February and producers of birth souvenirs were really relieved. Many souvenirs had already been produced beforehand with January 1938 on it. Only the day had to be added.

In the late afternoon of 1 February 1938 Prince Bernhard gave notice of the birth at Soestdijk Palace, where the little princess was born. Witnesses were prime minister Hendrik Colijn and the vice-president of the Council of State, jonkheer Frans Beelaerts van Blokland. The registrar was the mayor of Baarn, jonkheer Gerlach Cornelis Joannes van Reenen. Prince Bernhard presented his little daughter for a few minutes to the people present and then announced the names: Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard. Her last two names were the names of both her grandmothers. The Prince said that the first name of his daughter was chosen because of the beautiful meaning – she who makes happy – and that she was not named for anyone.

It was Prince Bernhard himself who took the first pictures of his daughter. Above picture of the 48 hour old princess was taken on 2 February 1938. They were to be handed out to the Dutch press. To their dislike however it was the british Daily Express that was the first to publish the pictures on 5 February 1938. The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reproduced them in the evening in the Netherlands.

The christening of Beatrix took place on 12 May 1938 in the St. Jacobskerk (St. James Church) in The Hague, The Netherlands. The christening was broadcasted live on the radio and one could hear Beatrix crying. The Rev. Willem Leonard Welter (1849-1940) christened the princess, while the Rev. Evert Hendrik Blaauwendraad of Baarn led the service. The child wore the same christening dress as her mother Princess Juliana and grandmother Queen Wilhelmina before her. Her godparents were Duke Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Princess Alice Countess of Athlone, King Leopold III of the Belgians, Princess Elisabeth zu Erbach-Schönberg (née Princess zu Waldeck und Pyrmont) and Countess Kotzebue née Allene Tew.

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