10 February 2016

Jewel History: The Royal Wedding at The Hague Today (1901)


"The Royal Wedding at The Hague Today"
(originally appeared in the New York Times, 7 Feb 1901)

The Hague, Feb. 6 -- The wedding eve of Queen Wilhelmina [1] and Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin [2] shows a winter carnival holding sway over The Hague. It is an ideal evening, clear and cold. Already 100,000 Hollanders, with many foreigners, have been added to the population of the city, and trains from all quarters of this ancient kingdom are bringing thousands more.

People are marching about or riding in carriages, singing or playing the national anthem. Wherever a band is heard, they take up the hymns "Wilhelmus van Nassau" [3] and "Wien Neer Lands Bloed" [4]. Everywhere are singing societies in uniforms and wearing medals, sober-looking Dutchmen who chant solemnly, officials, and prominent visitors. Groups of young men and women costumed in white and orange, and in other bright colors, are parading about, singing and making fun with the crowds as in the Mardi Gras. The tri-colored flags of Holland and the House of Orange are everywhere displayed, with an occasional light blue banner of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Orange-colored paper lanterns, hanging among fir trees which line the main streets and looking like big clusters of oranges, throw light over the decorations. Every one wears an orange rosette with a picture of the bride. Some, though these are few, display also a portrait of the bridegroom.


A striking feature of the festivities is their democratic atmosphere. There are no cordons of policemen or soldiers to hold back the crowds. There are no swarms of detectives. There is no talk of Anarchists.

The Queen and her people appear to enjoy the festivities equally. Members of the court say she delights in her popularity. The people cheer her more as an equal than in a spirit of homage. They seem proud of her, and say to foreigners, "What do you think of our Queen? We think her very handsome."

The programme of today's ceremonies is as follows:

At 11:15 AM, the Minister of Justice and the witnesses of the marriage will assemble in the White Room of the palace. At 11:30 AM, the civil marriage will take place in the nearest relatives. After that the royal party will proceed to the church in procession. After the religious service, the royal party will return, in procession, to the palace, where Queen Wilhelmina will hold court and receive the congratulations of others than members of the royal family and representatives of royal families.

At 1:30 PM, there will be a gala luncheon, and at 4:15 PM, the couple will depart on their honeymoon trip.

The military escort to the church will be exceedingly small. The service will be that of the Dutch Reformed Church, and of Puritanical simplicity. There will be no bridesmaids and no groomsmen. The decorations in the streets along which the wedding procession will go, however, will be most picturesque. Indeed, the procession will pass virtually through a tunnel of green and orange shrubbery and lanterns.



One of the most picturesque episodes of the week was a parade before the palace this morning of fifty Dutch societies, several representing seamen and fishermen, but the majority being choral organizations. There were several floats with fishermen and live-saving crews aboard. The latter were bronzed, hardy men, their breasts covered with medals. The singing of these societies aroused tremendous enthusiasm. Most of the members looked like prosperous farmers in Sunday clothes.

From a balcony of the palace this evening the Queen reviewed another parade. Later there was a soiree at the palace, with tableaux vivants illustrating incidents in Dutch and German history. These were arranged by Victor de Stuers, an actor. Those who took part were members of the Court, and the affair was strictly private.

In the streets cinematograph pictures were displayed before the people. Many of these represented scenes in the Transvaal war. The Boers were cheered [5].

One of the most conspicuous personages of the week has been Dr. Leyds, who has attended the diplomatic receptions and all the palace functions arrayed in full uniform, as the representative of the Transvaal Republic [6]. The British minister is not participating in the reception, in consequence of the death of Queen Victoria [7].

Pictures of Mr. Kruger and General de Wet [8] are almost as numerous in the shop windows as those of the Queen and the Duke.



The young Queen and Duke Henry have spent a large part of the week thus far in driving about the city in order to give the people a chance to see them. During the afternoon today they rode out a few miles along snow-covered roads to a village where a fisheries exhibition is being held. They went in one of the state carriages, which was drawn by four horses. Her Majesty, who wore a red and gold cloak and furs, carried a big bouquet of white flowers tied with orange ribbons. The Duke was arrayed in the uniform of a Dutch admiral. The Queen Mother [9] and the mother of the Duke, with several ladies of the Court and a few officers, followed in carriages.

The Queen's constant escort is twelve young noblemen, riding bay horses with white saddles and wearing maroon uniforms trimmed with black fur. Wherever the royal cortege appears, the people good-naturedly clear the way. When the crowds are thick, policemen and others clasp hands and form a line to keep them back.

The Queen bows and smiles with genuine youthful enjoyment. The Duke is considered cold, however, and looks bored. He raises his hand stiffly in military salute. His friends say the truth is that he is exceedingly shy, and, being only twenty-four years old, is greatly embarrassed by his prominence.



The Queen's wedding gown, woven of the finest silver tissue, was embroidered at the School of Art Needlework in Amsterdam, and was afterward made up by Nicaud of Paris. It is ornamented with silver threaded seed pearls. The robe and train are lined with rich white silk. The bodice, which is plain and cut low, is trimmed with magnificent antique lace. The trails are covered with embroidery, almost meeting at the waist and broadening out to the hem. The court train is two and a half yards long, the embroidery running around in light trails.

The Queen Mother always wears on state occasions some shade of purple befitting her matronly figure. Tomorrow she will appear in a gown of Parma violet, with a long train of deeper shade. The bodice is cut low and trimmed with priceless Brussels lace, of which she has a large store, and with mousseline de soie.

The gowns of the Queen's trousseau are mostly pale greens, grays, blues, and whites, these suiting her blonde complexion best. Her bonnets are of a severe style for a young woman, most of them being close-fitting toques, instead of the broad-brimmed hats worn by most girls.

For her public entry into Amsterdam, Her Majesty has a royal robe of white velvet with a train trimmed with ermine and a mantle lined with ermine. At one of the receptions in Amsterdam after the honeymoon she will wear a gown of white satin embroidered around the hem and bodice, and a court train of rich orange velvet, lined with white silk.

The Queen has an outdoor gown of delicate gray combined with white and pale blue, scarcely showing embroidered steel and silver sequins. With this goes a large hat. She has also a soft hunting costume of dark bottle-green, unornamented, and another of trimmed cloth applique. There is a walking dress of dark green, with gold threads, and another of green mignonette cloth, combined with white. The Queen has four plain riding habits.


Amsterdam's gift to the Queen, the magnificent gilded chariot originally built for her coronation, was formally presented on Monday. In it she will ride to the church tomorrow. One of the richest presents is a great tapestry representing the Garden of the Hesperides. This is from the French Republic. The City of The Hague has given a porcelain service of 300 pieces. From the women of The Hague the Queen received a silver mirror and a jeweled bracelet, and from her ladies-in-waiting a silver centerpiece for flowers.

The correspondent has been permitted to see the presents in the palace, and many weddings of wealthy Americans develop a more lavish display. Neat presents from the people of Holland, gifts showing the handiwork of humble housewives throughout the kingdom, take up the most space. These have been pouring in for weeks, so that there is a great display of silverware, porcelain, needlework, furniture, and jewelry.

The ladies of Amsterdam have given the Queen a writing case and a traveling bag. Princess Louise of Wied [10] gives a collection of important family papers and letters relating to the House of Orange. The women of The Hague give a magnificent oak chest. From the Bureau of Finance, Her Majesty has received a massive silver inkstand.

The mother of Duke Henry has given her son a writing table inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and the mother of the Queen has given her a necklace of brilliants and sapphires with a brooch of the same stones.

The most noteworthy gift is the carpet on which the Queen is to stand when she is married. It is an immense rug, the handiwork of sixty persons. The design shows hundreds of country people in queer attire and wooden shoes, among them women in ancient lace caps and sleeveless dresses. The crimson plush border consists of orange branches and fruit on a pale blue field. The two upper corners display the coat-of-arms of the Queen.

Queen Wilhelmina has conferred upon Duke Henry the title of Prince of the Netherlands.


1. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1880-1962) became the nation's queen at the age of ten and reigned for 58 years until her abdication in 1948.

2. Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1876-1934) was the son of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his third wife, Princess Marie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. His half-siblings included Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (father of Queen Alexandrine of Denmark and Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia) and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (who is probably best known to all of you as the original owner of the Vladimir Tiara). Henry married Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands on 7 Feb 1901. The marriage, sadly, was not a very happy one, although the couple did have one child, Queen Juliana, who was born in 1909.

3. The Wilhelmus is the current national anthem of the Netherlands -- it's actually apparently the oldest national anthem in the world.

4. "Wien Neêrlands bloed" was the national anthem of the Netherlands from 1815 until 1932.

5. In 1901, the Second Boer War was being waged in southern Africa between the British Empire and the South African (or Transvaal) Republic/Orange Free State, both of which were established by Dutch-speaking people. Britain won the war in 1902.

6. Willem Johannes Leyds (1859-1940) was serving as the South African Republic's Special Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary in Brussels at the time of this wedding.

7. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom died on 22 Jan 1901. Her state funeral was held at Windsor on February 2, and she was laid to rest at the mausoleum at Frogmore on the fourth, only three days before this wedding took place. The news report places this information here, it seems, to stress that the absence of a British representative at the funeral wasn't a political statement (although the timing may have been a convenient excuse).

8. Paul Kruger (1825-1904) was the president of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900, and he was an important symbol of the Boer cause during the war. Christiaan de Wet (1854-1922) was a Boer general and politician.

9. Queen Emma of the Netherlands (1858-1934) was the wife of King Willem III of the Netherlands; they were the parents of Queen Wilhelmina. Emma served as regent for her daughter from the time she ascended to the throne (at the age of 10) until her eighteenth birthday in 1898.

10. Princess Louise of Wied (1880-1965) was a daughter of Prince William V of Wied and Princess Marie of the Netherlands.