The Netherlands: A Vote for Love

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Seldom had a Dutch television show drawn so large an audience. Before a nationwide hookup, Parliament was debating a bill approving the marriage of Crown Princess Beatrix, 27, to West German Diplomat Claus von Amsberg, 39. Ever since the engagement was announced last spring, Von Amsberg has been attacked bitterly because he served in Hitler's army at the age of 17.

The attacks ranged from letters addressed to Von Amsberg's 71-year-old mother in West Germany, and signed "with hate," to a petition with 66,000 signatures protesting the wedding. As the argument raged in Parliament, ex-Resistance Hero Frans Goedhart arued that "Von Amsberg cannot help having been in the Wehrmacht, but one can get into a position that makes one unsuitable for certain functions, like an invalid who cannot take part in athletics."

He was hardly speaking for Holland. Polls showed that 70% of Beatrix's future subjects favored the match, with 17% in the "couldn't care less" class.

Most obviously agreed with Dr. Johann Einaar, representative of Surinam (Dutch Guiana) in South America, who rose before fellow legislators to declare: "We cannot understand what you have against the wedding. You cannot keep your own children in hand when they are in love." He got a healthy round of applause, and Parliament approved the marriage by a vote of 132 to 9. It will take place on March 10.