THE NETHERLANDS: The Woman Who Wanted a Smile

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Just 50 years ago, while cannon boomed and church bells rang, an 18-year-old girl with a sweet and melancholy face walked across the ancient square to Amsterdam's Nieuwe Kerk.* A purple mantle was on her shoulders, a diadem in her hair. She was Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange, about to become Queen of The Netherlands.

It seemed like a good, safe time for a princess to assume royal duties. The Czar's Russia was distant and implausible. The U.S., fighting Spain, was young, uncoordinated and callow. Queen Victoria ruled Britannia, and Britannia ruled the waves. Young ladies learned the simple difference between right & wrong along with embroidery and piano playing. A new century was just around the corner, bright with the promise of Progress.

As it happened, Wilhelmina's reign was to see the world shaken by war, poverty, and floods of doubt and confusion. In World War II she was forced to flee her country, and with all the warmth she had suppressed in her younger years, she worked for liberation. War brought her a sense of comradeship with her people that she had never known. When she returned to her country, she was humble. "I should come hat in hand," she said, "asking if someone can put me up for the night."

Her people, who had respected her before, loved her now. But the brave simplicity of the war days and the war aims was gone. The Dutch colonies, on which the nation's prosperity heavily depended, were in revolt. Said the old Queen proudly: "Een Oranje dringt zijn diensten nimmer op" (An Orange never forces his services on anyone). One of her young advisers said recently: "She hoped too much. She has been disappointed too much." This week, at 68, after half a century of rule, she leaves the throne in favor of her sturdy daughter, 39-year-old Juliana. Schoolchildren were singing a new song in Wilhelmina's honor:

You are the wisdom of our country, the mother of us all;

You always led us with a firm hand through many dark valleys . . .

Admirals & Cookery. For one more week of jubilee, the Queen will formally reign (during the past 3½ months she has been in retirement while Juliana acted as Regent). Holland was bathed last week in an orange glow of jubilee excitement; in Amsterdam orange lights glittered from the sleek façade of Heineken's brewery, and evergreen trees with orange lights lined the roads leading to Het Loo (meaning "The Woods"), the Queen's summer palace. (At Het Loo the Queen herself was busy discussing with Juliana the apportionment of the House of Orange's considerable fortune.)

Bookstores bulged with patriotic literature, from Admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter's 17th Century naval exploits to descriptions of Juliana's cookery. Tall heralds tried to fit into costumes which had been tailored for shorter, rounder men of an earlier day; the thrifty Dutch had saved the costumes for generations.

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