Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (1909-2004)

Princess Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Princess van Oranje-Nassau, Duchess of Mecklenburg was born at 6:50 in the morning at Palace Noordeinde in The Hague on April 30, 1909. The little princess was named after her ancestor Countess Juliana zu Stolberg (1506-1580), mother of Prince Willem of Orange. Juliana was the only child of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and the former Duke Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who called her their “Princess Sunshine”. She was christened in the Willems Church in The Hague on June 5, 1909. The little princess is soon taken to official visits by her parents. Contacts with other children were not denied to her, but were mainly staged. In 1915 on advice of educational expert Ligthart Queen Wilhelmina founded a palace school in which Princess Juliana had her lessons together with three other children: Elisabeth van Hardenberg, Elise Bentinck and Miek de Jonge. After five years of primary school, Princess Juliana continued her education by receiving private lessons on gymnasium level.

On April 30, 1927 Princess Juliana came of age and from that moment she would be able to take over her mother’s task if necessary. Two days after her 18th birthday the Princess was installed in the State Council. In the early spring of 1927 Princess Juliana decided that she wanted to study law in Leiden and finally, with support of her grandmother Queen Mother Emma and her father Prince Hendrik, her mother agreed. In September 1927 she moved into a house in Katwijk together with some friends. She also became a member of the Society for Female Students in Leiden, in which she was actively involved. She studied in Leiden for more than two years. The choice of subjects was varying. She had lessons of professors who prepared her for her future role, but she also followed subjects she found interesting herself like literature and religion. On January 31, 1930 she finished her studies and the University of Leiden decided to give her an honorary degree in literature and philosophy (she couldn’t graduate as she didn’t have a diploma of secondary school).

The Princess got her own secretariate at the Palace on the Kneuterdijk in The Hague. She more and more represented the Royal House at official events. The country was in crisis and in 1930 Princess Juliana became the honorary chairwoman of the Crisis Committee, which she stayed until the end in May 1936. She even worked at their office for a few months. In the early 1930s she also undertook some foreign travels among others to England. In 1934 a tragedy struck the royal family. On March 20 Queen Mother Emma died (coincidentally exactly 70 years before Princess Juliana died), and on July 3 also her father Prince Hendrik suddenly died. Princess Juliana Succeeded her father as president of the Dutch Red Cross, while she also took over many of the social slanted good works of her grandmother.

Now the royal family only existed of two persons, the survival of the dynasty was in danger There were already rumours since the time the princess was still very young. In 1922 Prince Rupert of Teck, son of the Earl and Countess of Athlone, already was mentioned as a good candidate, in November 1926 the name of Prince Charles of Belgium showed up in the press. Also Prince Carl of Sweden was regarded a huge candidate. Unexpectedly, on September 8, 1936, the engagement of Princess Juliana with Prince Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld was announced. The couple had met during the Olympic Wintergames in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in February 1936. In May 1936 the Prince first came to the Netherlands, and in the Summer of 1936 they met in Switzerland. On January 7, 1937 – the anniversary of the wedding of King Willem III of the Netherlands and Princess Emma zu Waldeck und Pyrmont in 1879 – the couple married at the Grote or St Jacobs Church in The Hague.

The newly-wed couple went on a three-month honeymoon and when they finally returned they started to live at Palace Soestdijk. Their first daughter, Beatrix, was born on January 31, 1938. Princess Irene followed on August 5, 1939. The threat of the war overshadowed life and because of security reasons the princely couple mainly stayed in The Hague. On May 12, 1940, two days after the German occupation had started, Princess Juliana and her two daughters fled to England together with Mrs Roëll and her daughter Renée. After a month they travelled further to Canada, but before Princess Irene was christened at the chapel of Buckingham Palace. Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard stayed in London and travelled to the family in Ottawa, Canada, a few times. From Canada the Princess undertook several travels to Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. On January 19, 1943, Princess Margriet was born. Although the Netherlands was liberated in May 1945, and Princess Juliana had already visited The Netherlands soon afterwards, she and her children only returned officially on August 2, 1945. During the first time after the war Princess Juliana helped in several aid projects for the Dutch people, and in the Spring of 1946 she and Prince Bernhard visited several countries that had meant a lot for the Netherlands during the German occupation. On February 18, 1947, the last daughter Christina (until 1963 Marijke) was born.

Princess Juliana was a regent for her mother from October 14 to December 1, 1947, and from May 14 to August 30, 1948. After the abdication of her mother, Queen Wilhelmina (who died in November 1962), on September 4, 1948 at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam Princess Juliana officially became the new Queen of the Netherlands. She was inaugurated at the New Church in Amsterdam on September 6, 1948. In her speech she said: “Who am I that I may do this?” which clearly shows that she looked up to her new status. During the first years of her reign one of the biggest political issues was the Indonesian question. In 1949 she signed the sovereignty transfer of Indonesia. In 1975 also Suriname became an independent country. Queen Juliana was an advocate for international co-operation and European unificiation. Her interest in social problems also stayed obvious.

In 1948 Queen Juliana simplified the court protocol drastically and even insisted on being called Mrs. instead of Royal Highness, which was quite a revolution in court circles at that time. During all of her life Queen Juliana has continued disliking the protocol. She liked to go her own way and she wanted to decide herself who could inform her the best about something. She hated security people who wanted to keep members of the public away from her. She also didn’t want to be carped at. In an interview in 1987 she said that if she hadn’t been a Queen she had wanted to be a social worker.

During her reign a few affairs occured. Princess Marijke was born being almost blind. In 1956 via a friend of Prince Bernhard Queen Juliana meets prayer-healer Greet Hofmans, who is hired to try to heal Princess Marijke’s eyes. In the affair that followed Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard were diametrically oppossed to each other as the Prince finds that Mrs Hofmans has too much influence on his wife and that she is not able to cure his daughter. The affair ended in a victory for Prince Bernhard. During the Lockheed affair in 1976 Queen Juliana firmly supported her husband Prince Bernhard and managed to curtail the consequences of the affair and to avoid a judicial inquiry into the case. Also the weddings of the four daughters of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard were somewhat conversial.

Queen Juliana abdicated at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on April 30, 1980, after having announced her step back already on January 31, 1980. Standing on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam she said to her people: “I herewith introduce you to Beatrix, your new Queen”. The decision to abdicate had been a difficult one as the aversion against her job had been long gone. After the abdication Queen Juliana became Princess Juliana again. Queen Beatrix decided to keep April 30 as the day Queen’s Day is celebrated, although in a different way. During the reign of Queen Juliana each year a flower march-past along the steps of Palace Soestdijk, since Queen Beatrix herself visits places in the country together with her family.

After her abdication Princess Juliana became an honorary chairwoman of the National Committee International Year of the Disabled 1981. She also kept on visiting institutions of social care. From the early 1990s Princess Juliana slowly took part in public events less. On May 30, 1998, Princess Juliana appeared in public for the last time, at the wedding of her grandson Prince Maurits with Marilène van den Broek. In a letter dated February 23, 1999, Princess Juliana let know that she wasn’t able anymore to accept official invitations because of her old age. Afterwards only a few photos of her were published, mainly by gossip magazines. In 2001 in an interview on the occasion of his 90th birthday her husband Prince Bernhard revealed that after a fall in which she broke her hip his wife’s memory had become worse and that the last time she had been really well had been at the vacation they spent with their children and grandchildren in Africa on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary in 1997.

Princess Juliana was the longest living person in the long history of the Oranje-Nassau dynasty. She is survived by her husband, her four daughters, 14 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren (while two more are on the way).

Thanks to Oscar for sharing his information with me.

The Funeral

The procession and the route

The procession left Noordeinde Palace at 09.45. At 09.45 the funeral procession departed from Noordeinde Palace for the Netherlands Defence College in Rijswijk, where it was joined by Princess Juliana of the Netherlands’s immediate family. At 11.35 the complete procession left for the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft with full military honours. It arrived at 12.15. Members of the Royal Family who were not taking part in the procession, dignitaries from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and visiting members of royal houses assembled in Delft town hall. The dignitaries from the Netherlands crossed the Markt square to the Nieuwe Kerk on foot at 11.55. The visiting members of royal houses and the members of the Royal Family not taking part in the procession followed at 12.00. Other guests arrived at the Nieuwe Kerk between 10.30 and 12.00.

The procession

His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, His Royal Highness Prince Carlos, His Highness Prince Maurits and Mr Bernardo Guillermo, the oldest children of the four daughters of Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana, followed the funeral carriage from Noordeinde Palace in The Hague in a State berlin. Halfway, at the Netherlands Defence College in Rijswijk, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Royal Highness Princess Irene, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet and Her Royal Highness Princess Christina joined the procession in the glass State berlin. The Princesses had traveled from Palace Noordeinde to Rijswijk by car around 11:10. The other members of the immediate family traveled from Noordeinde Palace to Delft Town Hall by car and in the royal motor coach.

First part of the route: from Noordeinde Palace to the Netherlands Defence College

The route from Noordeinde Palace to the Netherlands Defence College is: Front of Noordeinde Palace – Heulstraat – Kneuterdijk – Buitenhof – Spui – Rijswijkseplein – Rijswijkseweg – Haagweg – Rotterdamseweg – Laan van Hoornwijck – Singel – Poortweg – Netherlands Defence College, Brasserskade.

Mounted escort of honour of the Royal Military Constabulary(commander and 12 officers)

Mounted escort of honour of the National Police Services Agency (commander and 24 officers)

Equerry-in-chief, two equerries and coachman-in-chief

First carriage: State funeral carriage, drawn by an eight-horse team of Frisians Escort of two aides-de-camp to HM the Queen Crown Equerry

Second carriage: flower carriage, drawn by a pair of Gelderland horses

Third carriage: State berlin, with HRH the Prince of Orange, HRH Prince Carlos, HH Prince Maurits and Mr Bernardo Guillermo. This carriage was drawn by a pair of Frisian horses Mounted cavalry escort of honour (commander and 24 officers)

Second part of the route: from the Netherlands Defence College to the Nieuwe Kerk

The route from the Netherlands Defence College to the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft is: Poortweg – Vrijebanselaan – Wateringse Vest – Noordeinde – Oude Delft – Nieuwstraat – Camaretten – around the town hall (to the left) – around Markt square (to the right) – Nieuwe Kerk.

Military escort of honour on foot, leading section, comprising: Royal Military Band, Commander, honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Navy (100 personnel), honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Army (100 personnel) and honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (100 personnel)

Mounted escort of honour of the Royal Military Constabulary (commander and 12 officers)

Mounted escort of honour of the National Police Services Agency (commander and 24 officers)

Equerry-in-chief, two equerries and coachman-in-chief

First carriage: State funeral carriage, drawn by an eight-horse team of Frisians Escort of two aides-de-camp to HM the Queen Crown Equerry

Second carriage: flower carriage, drawn by a pair of Gelderland horses

Third carriage: glass State berlin, with HM the Queen, HRH Princess Irene, HRH Princess Margriet and HRH Princess Christina. This carriage is drawn by a team of four Gelderland horses

Fourth carriage: State berlin, with HRH the Prince of Orange, HRH Prince Carlos, HH Prince Maurits and Mr Bernardo Guillermo. This carriage is drawn by a pair of Frisian horses Mounted cavalry escort of honour (commander and 24 officers)

Military escort of honour on foot, rear section, comprising: Air Force Band, Commander, honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Navy (100 personnel), honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Army (100 personnel) and honour detachment of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (100 personnel)

The procession was preceded and followed by a mounted escort of four officers of the Haaglanden Regional Police Force at all times.

Royal guests in the procession

The royal procession was led by the Grand-Master Mr. P. W. Waldeck and the Grand-Mistress Mrs. M. L. A. van Loon-Labouchère.

  • King Juan Carlos I of Spain
  • Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
  • King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden
  • King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians
  • The Duke of Edinburgh Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg
  • Princess Sarvath El Hassan of Jordan
  • Queen Noor of Jordan
  • Prince and Princess Akishino
  • Queen Anne-Marie of Greece
  • Prince Nikolaos of Greece
  • Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand
  • Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
  • Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
  • Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein
  • Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco
  • Prince Moulay Youssef of Morocco
  • Prince Albert of Monaco
  • The Duke of Parma
  • The Aga Khan
  • Princess Zahra Aga Khan
  • Landgrave Moritz von Hessen
  • Prince Wittekind zu Waldeck und Pyrmont
  • Duke Franz of Bavaria
  • Archduke Michael and Archduchess Christiana of Austria

Grandchildren in the procession

  • Mrs O. A. Gaarlandt-Van Voorst van Beest, lady-in-waiting, Princess Máxima of the Netherlands
  • Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, Mabel Wisse Smit
  • Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
  • Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Princess Marilène van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
  • Prince Bernhard van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Princess Annette van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven
  • Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme
  • Prince Floris van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme
  • Nicolás Guillermo, Juliana Guillermo

The hearse

This hearse was used for the funerals of Emma, the Queen Mother (in 1934), Prince Hendrik (also in 1934), Princess Wilhelmina (in 1962) and Prince Claus in October 2002.

The undercarriage of the hearse was originally part of a Coupé d’Orsay supplied to the Royal House in 1871. In 1886 it was altered to make an ordinary coupé for Queen Emma. The body of the carriage was replaced with wooden boards in 1920. A new superstructure and fresh upholstery were designed in 1993.

The hearse is painted grey. At the front is a one-man coach-box, and the superstructure stands on wooden boards. Both superstructure and box are upholstered in purple cloth trimmed with silver thread. The sides are draped in white. The roof is embellished with white ostrich plumes at each corner, and is surmounted by the gilded royal crown that once graced the Glass Carriage.

The coachman will use white reins and the horses will have white rosettes on their bridles.

Flower decoration at the carriages

The following flower decoration could be seen at the state funeral carriage and the flower carriage.

At the state funeral carriage hung the wreath of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene, Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven and Princess Christina.

On and at the flower carriage lied and hung floral tributes and wreaths of the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren of Princess Juliana, Thilo von Watzdorf (son of Prince Aschwin and Princess Simone zur Lippe-Biesterfeld), the Red Cross, the Cabinet Council, the States General, the Supreme Court of Judicature, the State Council and the Dutch Military Forces.


Funeral carriage Trappings with crown

Flower carriage Trappings with crown

Glass State berlin State trappings with the arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

State berlin State trappings of the Prince of Orange

Order of service

The funeral service started around 12:30 and was led by the Reverend Welmet Hudig-Semeijns de Vries van Doesburgh. The elder on duty was Mr L. Boersma. The music was provided by the Bach Orchestra of The Hague, the Bach Choir of The Hague, the Resurrection Singers and organist Bas de Vroome. The conductor was Jos Vermunt.

Organ voluntary and orchestra

Gymnopédies 1 and 2, by Erik Satie, arranged by Claude Debussy in 1898

Gymnopédie 3, by Erik Satie, arranged by Roland Manuel in 1965

The coffin is carried into the church.


À toi la Gloire

Candle ceremony with the grandchildren

The Prince of Orange lit a candle.

Prince Johan Friso: “The Lord said ‘Let there be light’. And there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme lit a candle.

Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme: “For with thee is the fountain of life. In thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36: 9/10).

Prince Floris van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven lit a candle.

Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven (?): Send out Thy light and Thy truth. Let them lead me” (Psalm 43:3).

Nicolás Guillermo lit a candle.

Juliana Guillermo: “Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall have the light of life.’ (John 8:12).

Call to worship

We dedicate this service to God, the fountain of life, from Whom, through Whom and by Whom all things are, and from Whom, through Whom and by Whom Princess Juliana lived and died. Grace be with you and the peace of God our Father, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana. Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. Though one who was so dear to us has departed from our midst, we are above all filled with gratitude that hers was such a long and productive life.

Princess Juliana herself was convinced that death was not a descent into oblivion or darkness, but a transition into Light and the security of God’s Love. That is why she chose white as the colour for this day, and why we sang À Toi la Gloire (Thine be the Glory), as our first hymn. It was her wish to set the tone of her farewell with this joyful hymn of resurrection, and you will recognise this uplifting note in the other music she chose.

One of her greatest wishes was that her daughter Christina would sing and it is wonderful that she was prepared to do so at such an emotional time. The hymn she chose was “It’s a gift to be simple.”

Vocal Solo by Princess Christina of the Netherlands, with orchestra

The Gift to be Simple

’tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be;
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘t will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and bend we shan’t be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning we come round right.

’tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be;
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘t will be in the valley of love and delight.

Opening prayer

O Lord, let there be silence within us. Such silence that we can hear the intake of our own breath, and feel the beating of our hearts.

Let us for a moment detach ourselves from this imposing place, the people around us and all these unfamiliar impressions and concentrate on the person who really matters today. Help us to be with Princess Juliana in our hearts: to remember who she was and what she meant to each of us. (Let us dwell upon her qualities, her personality, her individuality, the special person that she was.) Help us to think of her here and now with respect and with the heartfelt attention she deserves, she who devoted her life to her country and her people. She who endeavoured, in all sincerity, to complete her task and to serve You. You who are the fountain of all love, let love flow into our hearts, so that we become a circle, surrounding her with warmth and care. Amen.

Choir and orchestra

Kyrie Eleison from Mass in D major by Antonin Dvorak


John 14:1,2,27,28.

Choir and congregation

Hymn 293: Whatever the future may bring, the Lord will guide me (Wat de toekomst brengen moge mij geleidt des Heren hand); verses 1, 2 and 4


Most people do not want to be ordinary. They want to be considered special. But for Princess Juliana, it was the other way round. Everyone saw her as special, but she wanted to be ordinary. One of her childhood memories is a good illustration of this.

As a little girl, she attended school at Huis ten Bosch Palace, with three other little girls who formed a special class with her. Every morning she was taken there, all alone in her carriage, except for a lady-in-waiting. The other girls arrived together. Little Juliana would watch them coming, chattering and giggling. And that’s how they left at the end of the school day. The Princess alone, the other girls together. But one day, the lady-in-waiting was standing talking to one of the mothers, not paying attention to her charge. The girls beckoned to Juliana to come over and sit with them in their carriage. So Juliana got out of hers, and climbed in with them. It was wonderful, she said. The driver made a quick circle in front of the palace, and they all laughed and told jokes. She was having so much fun. But as soon as the lady-in-waiting realised what was happening, the Princess was taken out of the carriage. Her mother would never allow such a thing! When Princess Juliana told this story 80 years later, she was still angry. “I knew that my mother would not have minded. She liked me to enjoy myself.”

We can of course sympathise with the lady-in-waiting, who must have had quite a fright. It was up to her to protect and watch over the precious child. But to the little princess, all this meant was that she could never play with the other children. And she carried this memory with her for the rest of her long life.

Princess Juliana was special – an only child and heir to the throne. And that brought with it a degree of loneliness. Of course, it was a source of sadness to her, as it is to anyone who is alone. But from that loneliness, she developed her own strengths: her own dignity, her own vision and her own authenticity which enabled her to make good friends later in her life.

For Juliana, being Queen was an onerous, but sacred task, which she felt it was her duty to fulfill; to obey, as we will shortly sing. No matter how much her daughters meant to her, her task made it impossible to be an ordinary mother and that was not easy for her or her family.

Princess Juliana gave herself completely to her task. She was always well prepared and her questions were very much to the point. Which is how she formed her own opinion. But at the same time, she found it difficult to understand that others saw things differently. And once she had made up her mind, it was difficult to persuade her to change it.

Behind her longing to be ordinary was true simplicity: the gift to be simple, as her daughter Christina sang. She knew how to truly enjoy life’s simple pleasures: a picnic with the children, or looking for chestnuts to roast. Shopping somewhere abroad, where no one recognised her. Playing games, like Scrabble. That was something she really enjoyed, especially when she was older and had more time, and especially if she won. But her real passion was acting. You can well imagine how someone who always had to play a role loved playing one she could choose for herself – and to which she could bring all the humour she possessed in abundance.

Sometimes perhaps she went a little too far in her search for simplicity, certainly by today’s standards: for instance when she felt that salmon canapés were too fancy to be served at her birthday party.

Being ordinary meant that Princess Juliana had a strong aversion to court etiquette and imposed formality. But neither did she like unsought-after informality and pushiness. She wrote “I was inclined to see the good in people. But I was not so stupid that I did not often see through them.”

What made Princess Juliana so special was her warm heart. The older generation do not remember her as the queen in the state portraits they saw in public buildings. The image that left the deepest impression on them was the one of her standing in the mud in her rubber boots in Zeeland during the 1953 floods, with wind-swept hair and fluttering headscarf. The expression on her face was one of deepest sympathy and powerlessness. At that moment, she was perhaps at her most royal, in the truest sense of the word: genuinely at one with her people in their hour of need and in their grief.

Princess Juliana was a deeply religious woman, with spiritual beliefs all her own. Her faith was not inspired by church dogma or law. She was tolerant of other religions as a matter of course. Her mother gave her a solid, Christian upbringing, and her father brought her into contact with the mystical wisdom of the East. She had an open mind and spoke with great enthusiasm of her meeting with the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber. But she was also interested in Islamic Sufism. Her daughters introduced her to modern spiritual movements, and so she continued to develop. She was a regular churchgoer, certainly as she grew older, but preferred attending different churches. When she received communion at her grandson’s ecumenical wedding service, it was not the whim of an old lady. For her, this was communion in the true sense. Communion between people of different denominations was her deepest wish. She was convinced that many roads led to the one God. Or, as Jesus poetically said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions”.

She had her own articles of faith and made no secret of them. When I asked her how she wanted her service of farewell to be, she told me: “I want it to be about peace. Peace between individuals, between races and between nations. And about not being afraid of death.”

Peace. It grieved Princess Juliana profoundly to have to leave her country when war broke out. From Canada, she lived through events with her people. After the war, working wherever she could for peace was the most important task to her. That was frequently the subject of her Christmas message. “No matter who you are, it is the greatest conceivable privilege to be able to work for peace on earth and for people’s wellbeing. All of us. We all share the same responsibility.”

She found the arms race during the Cold War disturbing. And she also appreciated that world peace could be achieved only by bridging the gap between rich and poor countries and by respecting human rights.

Ultimately, her work for world peace would turn into her greatest struggle, a struggle for which she had the courage. “Peace is not a safe shelter for the idle. Peace is the noblest struggle of all.”

In the passage from the Bible we have just read, Jesus said: “Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give you”. It is important to know that in Jesus’ day, the word “peace” had different meanings.

First, it meant the absence of war. And Jesus preferred to die himself than to allow others to take up arms because of him.

Peace also meant spiritual health, wholeness and wellness. The Greek goddess of peace Eirene – we say Irene – was depicted with the horn of plenty in her hand. She brought prosperity, health and happiness. When a Jew says shalom, or an Arab salaam, they are literally saying peace be with you but also wishing you all the good in life: a good harvest, friendship, all the joy life can bring.

True peace in the sense of prosperity for all can only be achieved if there is also social justice: less of a gulf between rich and poor countries, a sound legal system and love of your neighbour.

It is clear that the ideal of peace, prosperity and justice, did not exist in Jesus’ day. His country was occupied and exploited; poverty and injustice held sway. That is why many people projected the idea of peace into a distant, ideal future, when the Messiah would come. Or to another world: to heaven, where you can rest in peace. But if you read the passage properly, and in context, it is unlikely that Jesus was wishing his disciples a distant future of bliss, or heavenly peace. “Peace is my parting gift to you” are Jesus’ words at his last meeting with His disciples. He warns them that he will be betrayed, taken prisoner and put to death. They are filled with fear and confusion. And precisely at this moment Jesus says, “Peace is my parting gift to you.” What could he have meant?

It seems as if Jesus has reconciled himself to the fact that he must take his leave. He has almost completed his life’s mission, and he will depart this life at one with God, who gives meaning to his existence. “It is finished”. Those are His last words according to the gospel of John. A just world peace has not yet been achieved, but what Jesus gives his disciples is inner peace, the peace of being rooted in God, of fighting for a good cause and giving your life for it. That gives them the strength to carry on where he left off. Even though Jesus dies, His peace keeps on working. It has lasting, eternal significance.

Working for peace is in itself enough to give peace. But you must have the courage to fight and at the same time accept that some things are beyond your power. And despite disappointments, you must never lose your courage. This brings to mind the well-known prayer: “Lord, give me the courage to change the things that can be changed. Give me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed. And give me the wisdom to know the difference.”

Peace is also believing that every action you take for the good cause has eternal value. Princess Juliana understood this. In two of her Christmas messages she said, “If people work towards something good, something good will always come out of it, even though the result is sometimes different than expected.” This echoes the optimistic faith that gave her the strength to accept setbacks.

Let us return to the Bible passage containing the second of Princess Juliana’s themes. Jesus comforts his despairing disciples with the words “Do not be afraid.” His peace will carry them through the many trials ahead, including death, the ultimate trial. That they too will find a home with God, that they will return to their Father, from Whom, through Whom and by Whom all things are.

We have just sung “Je ne crains rien” (I fear nothing). “People have nothing to fear,” Princess Juliana often said. “A new life, a different life, follows after death.” She was convinced of that. There is no end at the end, only an eternal new beginning.

Princess Juliana’s life was not easy. She had to bear a great deal alone. She wrote: “Much of the sorrow in my life is unknown to others and so it should be. Other people often did not understand me.” It was a difficult life, but it was full, intense and valuable. And she died in peace. Close to her husband, whom she so loved. And surrounded by her children and grandchildren, in whom she found the greatest joy.

May her powerful, optimistic faith be an example to us all. And may this queen, who was so beloved of her people and so valued by them, rest in peace. Amen.

Choir a cappella by the Resurrection Singers

Wi Tata (the Lord’s Prayer in Surinamese) by John Nelom.

Introduction to the blessing

Before we entrust Juliana’s body to the safety of the earth and the shelter of this church, we will take our leave of her.

Whenever we take our leave of someone, we wish them a safe journey, or bid them farewell. In church, we talk about the blessing, ‘bene dicere’ in Latin, which literally means wishing someone well. I shall pronounce the blessing using the formal, biblical terms. I should like to ask you to join me by singing the responses. But above all, I should like to ask you to formulate your own blessing in your heart, to be consciously aware of what you are wishing her. The ancient, biblical words will thus be filled with the power of your intentions, and borne on the love of her family and her friends.

Please rise.

The body of Princess Juliana we entrust to the safety of the earth. Her soul we entrust to God, who also has given it.


The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


Hymn 444: “Lord,have mercy upon her” (Heer ontferm U over haar), verse 3

Princess Juliana is laid to rest in the Royal Vault

Prince Bernhard, Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene, Princess Margriet, Pieter van Vollenhoven and Princess Christina follow the coffin into the vault.

Morning from the Peer Gynt suite by Edvard Grieg

Choir and Orchestra
Angel of Hope, by Erik Berglund, arranged by Bob Zimmerman


Der Winter ist Vergangen (The winter has passed)

Prayers, followed by the silent prayer

Lord, we thank you that we can gather here in peace. Give us the strength, each in their own way, to take your peace with us into this world, which suffers so much under the yoke of war, poverty and injustice. Lord, we thank you for giving us the special person who was Juliana. Now that she has gone from us, our thoughts are with her husband, Prince Bernhard, her daughters Beatrix, Irene, Margriet and Christina, her son-in-law Pieter and the rest of the large family that you granted her. Comfort all who sincerely grieve for her. We pray in silence for all those who suffer the pain of loss. We name them in the silence of our hearts.

(silent prayer)

And everything we wish to say to you, we say in the prayer that Jesus taught us:

The Lord’s Prayer

Final hymn

Hymn 411: Wilhelmus; verse 15

Valediction and blessing

Go forth in peace
Each with your own mission in life
Conscious of the world and its needs
Borne by God’s blessing.

May the Eternal one go before you to guide your way
.. behind you to strengthen you
.. beside you as a close friend
.. around you as a protective cloak
.. within you as love and peace.


(From a Celtic blessing)

Choir and orchestra

Dona nobis pacem

organ voluntary

Wie groß ist des Allmächt’gen Güte, chorale variations by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

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