Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands

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Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the Death of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who died on this day in 2004. Born Count Bernhard of Biesterfeld, he was the elder son of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Baroness Armgard von Cramm, whose marriage was not given dynastic status until 1916, when he became ‘His Serene Highness Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld’. Growing up at the family estate of Reckenwalde  in East Brandenburg, after the loss of the principality of Lippe in 1918, Prince Bernhard was educated in Sulechów and Berlin before studying law at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and later in Berlin, when he joined the Nazi Party, and later worked for the German chemical giant IG Farbe. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he met Crown Princess Juliana of The Netherlands, who he married the following year. The couple had four daughters: Princess Beatrix, Princess Margriet, Princess Irene, Princess Christina, and Prince Bernhard also had several rumoured and confirmed illegitimate children. During the Nazi Occupation during the Second World War, the Dutch Royal Family were forced to go into exile in Britain, remaining with Queen Wilhelmina in London while the Crown Princess and their daughters went to Canada. Prince Bernhard took an active role in the government in exile and the resistance movement, and later worked to reinvigorate the Dutch economy. After the Abdication of Queen Wilhelmina in 1948, now the Prince Consort, he took on a variety of roles and positions, though scandals in the 1970s and 1980s forced him to resign from some of those positions. After the Abdication of Queen Juliana in 1980, the couple retired to the Soestdijk Palace, where Prince Bernhard had repeated health problems, and the death of the Queen in early 2004 made his health more fragile, leading to his death, from cancer at the age of 93.


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