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Queen Wilhelmina used drugs during the Second World War

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands used the drug perventine, now better known as crystal meth, during the Second World War. It is reported by Marcel Verburg, who is a legal historian, in his new book about the history of the Ministry of Justice during the years 1940 to 1945.

He is not the first to report the drug use, but he is the first to draw significant attention to it. Cees Fasseur, a royal historian, who died earlier this year, also mentioned it. The drug use may account for the radical change in Wilhelmina’s style of government, which was once attributed to her Romanov ancestors. It is possibly that Queen Wilhelmina made strange decisions or delayed decisions as a result of the drug use. During the war pervetine was sometimes used by soldiers for exhaustion and it was also used as pain medication.

Queen Wilhelmina was Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 until her abdication in favour of her daughter, Juliana, in 1948. The invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 caused the royal family to flee to England, where she arrived on 13 May on board the British destroyer HMS Hereward. She took charge of a government in exile. Queen Wilhelmina would broadcast messages to the Dutch people over Radio Oranje (Orange), though it was illegal for the Dutch people to listen to it. She continued to be the symbol of resistance throughout the war. A celebration of her birthday was illegal, but it was commemorated nevertheless.

She was almost killed by a bomb near her country home near South Mimms. She was inducted into the Order of the Garter in 1944 and was described by Sir Winston Churchill as the only real man among the governments-in-exile in London. She was finally able to return the Netherlands after the end of the Second World War. She died on 28 November 1962.

  • Ricky

    The drug Queen Wilhelmina had been using, according to the book’s author, was made under laboratory conditions by a pharmaceutical company. The chemical name for it is methamphetamine, and as the article states, the brand name used in Europe at that time was Pervitin.

    But to call it “crystal meth” conjures up a picture of an illegal substance made and sold by criminals, and full of unknown adulterants.

    While both versions are the same chemical, calling it crystal meth does a disservice to the Dutch queen. She wasn’t using street drugs, and in the 1940’s, few people understood how dangerous this drug could be. I’m sure she had a personal physician who wouldn’t have allowed her to take anything thought to be harmful.

    • malcolmkyle

      Researchers led by Professor David Nutt, a former chief drugs adviser to the British government, asked drug-harm experts to rank 20 drugs (legal and illegal) on 16 measures of harm to the user and to wider society, such as damage to health, drug dependency, economic costs and crime. Alcohol scored 72 out of a possible 100, far more damaging than heroin (55) or crack cocaine (54). Alcohol is the most harmful to others by a wide margin, and is ranked fourth behind heroin, crack, and methamphetamine (crystal meth) for harm to the individual.

      Every single prohibitionist is drenched in blood. Blood from forcing people to chose alcohol and nicotine over a far safer alternative. Blood from forcing the ill and dying to use killer prescription drugs instead of marijuana, blood from the many killed in shoot-outs and no-knock raids, and blood from forcing people to buy from violent black market criminals.

  • robert

    Considering what she was dealing with, I don’t blame her.

  • Ted Thomas Martin

    Were not many Royals on Heroin etc. back then.

    • Ricky

      The late Prince George, Duke of Kent, developed a serious addiction to cocaine and heroin in the 1920’s. A London socialite, Kiki Preston, introduced him to these drugs, and he had a difficult time getting off them.

      His elder brother, the then-Prince of Wales, helped him with the support he needed to quash his addiction. The two brothers were quite close, and Edward deserves a lot of credit for that.

    • Ricky

      The late Prince George, Duke of Kent, developed a serious addiction to cocaine and heroin in the 1920’s. A London socialite, Kiki Preston, introduced him to these drugs, and he had a difficult time getting off them.

      His elder brother, the then-Prince of Wales, helped him with the support he needed to quash his addiction. The two brothers were quite close, and Edward deserves a lot of credit for that.

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