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European RoyalsThe Netherlands

An emotional return home as Princess Margriet returns to Canada

Princess Margriet/Photo by Moniek Bloks

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands has made her way back to the land where she was born for a visit that was supposed to happen in 2020, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Canada’s independence. 

Her Royal Highness and her husband, Prof Pieter van Vollenhoven, landed in Ottawa on the morning of Thursday, 12 May, and began their visit at the house where the Dutch royals resided during their World War II exile, in Stornoway, in the suburb of Rockcliffe Park. 

There, the Princess planted a bed of flowers with Princess Margriet Tulips, a variety that was named after Queen Juliana’s third daughter, in a symbol of unity between the Netherlands and Canada. 

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard were forced into exile when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands on 12 May 2940. At first, they escaped to the United Kingdom, where Queen Wilhelmina and the rest of the Dutch government followed them the next day, but it soon became clear that the country wasn’t safe either; the Princess and her family moved to Canada, while Queen Wilhelmina and the rest of the government stays back in the UK. 

Three years later, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third child, a daughter named Margriet Francisca. Canada’s Lieutenant General issued a decree that allowed the hospital room to be temporarily considered “extraterritorial” so that the Princess would hold solely Dutch citizenship and not, as Canadian law dictates, dual citizenship. 

However, Princess Margriet’s bond with Canada was always very special, and this visit only reaffirms the gratitude she has expressed repeatedly to the country for offering a safe haven to her family. 

Day one of the couple’s Canada visit continued with a meeting with the Dutch Canadian Parliamentary Friendship Group, a group of parliament members that focus on the relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. 

The day came to a close with another special meeting when Princess Margriet and Prof van Vollenhoven encountered representatives of the Canadian Red Cross. Her Royal Highness is Honorary President of the Dutch Red Cross and, especially over the past two years, has carried out many engagements celebrating the many workers that have tirelessly contributed to the fight against the coronavirus. 

The visit will end on Monday, 16 May, and will include meetings with top Canadian authorities like Governor General Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Veteran Affairs Lawrence MacAuley.