One of Holland’s three royal palaces used by King Willem-Alexander, Noordeinde Palace is situated in South Holland in The Hague. Its origins are far more mundane than a palace, it was actually a medieval farmhouse, and the old cellars can be seen to this day in the palace basement. It has had an interesting history, the transformation from farmhouse to palace was begun in the middle of the sixteenth century by a Steward of the States of Holland, Willem van den God.
After some private leases, it was purchased for the widow of William of Orange, and her son Prince Frederik Hendrik. He completed further works of the palace which gave it the familiar H shape that can be seen today. The architects Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen, who had earlier worked on the Huis ten Bosch Palace. Sadly, once his widow left in towards the end of the seventeenth century, the house was left vacant. Ownership passed from Holland to the Kings of Prussia as the property was inherited by Prince Frederik’s grandson, King Frederick I of Prussia.
His son, Frederick the Great sold the palace back to Holland, however, just before Stadtholder Willem V could take residence towards the end of the century as Napoleon invaded, and the Royal Family fled to England and the palace became state property – which it still is today. After the fall of Napoleon, Prince Willem returned to Holland to be named Sovereign Prince, and part of the constitution was that the State were to provide the Royal family with Summer and Winter Palaces, like the Russian Imperial Family. In the United Kingdom, there is no designation of a palace for a season, but we do see The Queen and family nearly always spending Christmas at Sandringham, and has a set progression through the year around her royal palaces. Though the original idea was to build a new palace, the decision was made to use Noordeinde as the Winter Palace.
The palace continued to be used with a small hiatus during World War II until 1948 when the centre part was damaged by a fire.When Queen Juliana came to the throne, she preferred to use Soestdijk Palace near Utrecht rather than Noordeinde; hence it came to be used more like an office. During the reign of her granddaughter, Queen Beatrix, the palace was extensively renovated, and since her son, King Willem-Alexander came to the throne in 2013, he has used the Palace as a working palace and offices for all matters concerning stately and political affairs.
The palace is not just used as offices, though; it has also been used during state visits of other monarchs and heads of state including the visit of President Lula of Brazil. We must wait and see if President Trump gets a chance to sign the visitor’s book during his time in office. However, it is a state-owned palace, and the gardens are opened to the public – so if you are in The Hague, you can always pay it a visit and contemplate who has trod the lawns before you.