THE NETHERLANDS: Popular Surprise

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With their broad faces cracking wide in happy smiles one hard-raining evening last week, groups of loyal Dutch gathered under dripping trees at The Hague around a plain, white-painted house which anyone is free to approach. It was the Royal Palace of that good woman Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau who for 46 of her 56 years has been Queen of The Netherlands.

"Juliana is coming with her fiancé," murmured the stolidly joyous Dutch who had just learned of their Crown Princess' engagement (TIME, Sept. 14). A car was sighted whizzing toward the Palace and out boomed the royal Dutch cheer: "Hold the Sea! Hold the Sea!"

Motherly Queen Wilhelmina came out on her front steps. Ample Crown Princess Juliana climbed from the car. The two splendid women effusively embraced. And out from behind the wheel slipped a slender young man with large tortoise-shell spectacles to be kissed in his turn and greeted as "Dear Benno!" Huskily the crowd continued to cheer "Hold the Sea! Hold the Sea!"

Meanwhile the vast Dutch East Indies on the other side of the globe and diked-in little Holland had both tuned every available radio set to hear the Royal Family broadcast officially how they all felt about the engagement of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Duchess of Mecklenburg, Doctor of Philosophy and honorary Doctor of Letters, to Prince Bernhard Leopold Frederic Eberhard Jules Curt Charles Godfrey Peter von Lippe-Biesterfeld, a sportsmanly apprentice employed without pay by the colossal German Dye Trust I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft. It was in 1916 that the reigning Prince of the German principality of Lippe conferred on "Benno's" mother and her descendants the princely title of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Previously in 1909 he had elevated her to the rank of Countess Biesterfeld.

"My daughter's engagement to Bernhard," came the full-rounded radio voice of Queen Wilhelmina, "is founded on mutual affection. I am highly pleased with the excellent qualities of my future son-in-law. He has already shown he is a hard worker."

"I love him!" broadcast Crown Princess Juliana to her future subjects. "Thank you for your congratulations and your homage. We are very happy. We have known each other more than a year. We first met during the winter sports [in Germany] and afterwards several times in Holland. We came to be on very good terms. These present hours wherein we've been shown so much kindness are the finest of our mutual life."

Speaking Dutch with scarcely any German accent, beaming Benno said: "I am very happy and hope to be able to marry within two or three months. I will do my utmost to be of real help to my future wife."

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