SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

The Netherlands

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.