THE NETHERLANDS: Speech From Queen

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Half a million Dutch turned out in The Hague for the annual opening of the States General last week when they heard the rumor that Prince "Benno." the German fiance of Crown Princess Juliana, would probably be riding in the royal coach.

Actually discreet Prince "Benno" stayed home. Bands blared and standards were clipped to the ground as beloved Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands waddled in to read the speech from the Throne opening Parliament. As usual, the State paper was written by close-cropped and sagacious Premier Hendrikus Colijn. With Dutch industry now joining in the general world industrial pick-up springing from Rearmament. Her Majesty could and did sound an optimistic note as to Treasury finance and the general economic condition of The Netherlands last week, in sharp contrast to the bucket of cold retrenchment Her Majesty was obliged to throw last year (TIME, Oct. 1, 1935). Education is not unduly favored by the Dutch Premier, and this year he is retrenching another $5,000,000 in the running of The Netherlands' schools.

As usual, however, vast Netherlands Indies, not the small Netherlands, was the nub of the Speech from the Throne. Without directly mentioning the Dutch Cabinet's fear that outbreak of a major war anywhere would be the signal for the Japanese Fleet to pounce upon Borneo and seize from the Netherlands Indies the most important oil fields in the whole Far East, the Speech of matronly Wilhelmina touched tidily upon the new defenses for the Netherlands Indies now being invested in by Her Majesty's Government. By 1040 the Netherlands Indies air force is to be completely reorganized with fast bombers and seaplanes as the main defense arm in addition to twelve new destroyers and 18 new submarines to give Japanese war boats warm receptions.

On the economic side Her Majesty's Government have just moved far toward making peace in the cut-throat Far East freight war between Dutch and Japanese shipping companies. By quiet, patient insistence Premier Colijn has forced both Japanese and Dutch shipmen to agree upon preliminary peace terms and these will now be used by diplomats of Tokyo and The Hague in an effort to make a binding economic treaty between the Empire of Hirohito and that of Wilhelmina.

''My relations with the foreign powers.'' declared the rich contralto of Her Majesty, "continue to be friendly."