Margriet Francisca was born on 19 January 1943 in the Ottawa Civic Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, during the Second World War to then Princess Juliana (future Queen Juliana) and Prince Bernhard. Her family had fled the Netherlands after the Nazi invasion and had resided in Canada since June 1940.
The maternity ward where she was born was temporarily declared, by the Canadian government, extraterritorial. This technically made the ward international and ensured that the young Princess would have Dutch citizenship only.
Her first name was based on the Marguerite flower (oxeye daisy), which was a symbol of the Nazi resistance.
Margriet has two older sisters, Beatrix and Irene and one younger sister, Christina. Of course, Beatrix would go on to be Queen Beatrix until her 2013 abdication in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander.
She was christened in Ottawa at the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on 29 June 1943. Her godparents were United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Crown Princess Märtha of Norway; Governor-General of Canada, Alexander, 1st Earl of Athlone; Queen Mary of the United Kingdom; Princess Juliana’s lady-in-waiting, Martine Roell; and the Dutch Merchant Fleet.
Princess Margriet was two-years-old when they returned to the Netherlands after it had been liberated in August 1945. She lived with her family in Soestdijk Palace in the town of Baarn. For her education, she attended De Werkplaats school and Nieuwe Baarnse School in Bilthoven and Baarn, respectively. She completed her secondary education at Baarns Lyceum; she graduated in 1961 after passing her exams.
She spent a year at the University of Montpellier in France focusing on French literature, history and art history. Afterwards, she attended Leiden University studying “elementary jurisprudence, constitutional law, Roman law and some social science subjects,” according to the Royal House of the Netherlands. It was there that she met her future husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven.
The couple announced their engagement on 10 March 1965 and married on 10 January 1967 in a civil ceremony followed by a religious ceremony at St James Church. The couple moved into the east wing of Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. In 1975, their home Het Loo House was completed, and they moved in.
Margriet and Pieter have four sons: Prince Maurits (b. 17 April 1968), Prince Bernhard (b. 25 December 1969), Prince Pieter-Christiaan (b. 22 March 1972) and Prince Floris (b. 10 April 1975). Their children, as was decided when they wed, were only Princes of Orange-Nassau with the style of Highness. Margriet and Pieter have 11 grandchildren. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on 10 January this year.
The Princess has retained her position in the Dutch Royal House and is passionate about the causes dear to her heart. She has worked with the Red Cross since the 1960s. She is the patron of the following organisations: Ronald McDonald House Advisory Committee, National Union of Volunteers, Equestrian Federation for the Disabled, Honorary Board of the International Paralympic Committee, The De Lijn Society, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, National Rehabilitation Fund, Society of Friends of the Band of the Royal Marines, Netherland-America Foundation, Vision 2020 Netherlands, and Introdans Modern Ballet Company.
In the Netherlands, she holds the honours of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange, 1966 Royal Wedding Medal, Queen Beatrix Investiture Medal, 2002 Royal Wedding Medal, and King Willem-Alexander Investiture Medal.
Princess Margriet also holds honours from the following foreign countries: Belgium, Cameroon, Chile, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Norway, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, and Venezuela.