FOREIGN RELATIONS: Hoera de Koningin!

  • Share
  • Read Later

Like most of the rest of the U.S., Washington dearly loves royalty, but the capital, still remembering the romantic pomp and glitter attendant on last autumn's visit by Princess Elizabeth, wasn't quite ready to be enthusiastic about Queen Juliana of The Netherlands. Frankly, a good many photographs . made Juliana look like an unregal and rather dumpy Hausjrau. But from the moment she stepped out of the doorway of the KLM plane which brought her across the Atlantic last week, Washington began changing its mind.

As she stood on the passenger ramp amid the crashing of a 21-gun salute, Juliana not only looked pink-cheeked and younger than her 42 years, but a lot more splendid than anyone had expected: she wore an eye-catching raspberry red dress, a silver fox cape, diamond and ruby earrings and high-heeled black pumps. As she stepped down to give President Truman a vigorous handshake, she had a warm and winning smile, a direct gaze and a jolly air that was immediately disarming.

Friendly Couple. Unlike England's Elizabeth—who was tense and a little nervous during her official visit—Juliana seemed to be enjoying herself immensely as she shook hands with Cabinet members and inspected the long lines of bluejackets and soldiers drawn up in her honor. Her husband, German-born Prince Bernhard, seemed as friendly and informal: a tall, spectacled man who walked, toes out, with a kind of jaunty springiness and wore a rear admiral's uniform which looked a cut too small for him.

The Queen—who spent the war years in Canada and lived in Massachusetts during the summers of 1942 and 1944—acted less like a celebrity than a tourist returning to familiar haunts. The crowds along the way as she was driven into the city in an open White House car were friendly but undemonstrative, and she beamed at them as if she felt they were taking a good, sensible attitude.

By the time the royal couple had vanished into the remodeled White House—they were its first overnight guests—the capital was thinking of the visit as a new sort of Dutch treat. The Queen won more friends when she addressed a joint session of Congress the next day. Unawed by the glare of television lights or the big, crowded chamber, she pulled off her right glove with a quick movement, shook hands with Speaker Sam Rayburn and Vice President Alben Barkley, took out her speech—most of which she had written herself—tilted her chin toward the galleries, and went right to work.

Speaking with only the slightest of accents, she thanked the U.S. for help during and after World War II, spoke hopefully of the North Atlantic alliance and gratefully of U.S. power. She was interrupted 13 times by applause. When she finished—"Let us all do the best we can. Leave the rest to God. He will not forsake this poor world . . ."—Congress gave her a standing ovation. Outside, as she left, a blonde Dutch girl yelled: "Hiep, hiep, hoem. Hoera de Koningin!" The Queen beamed; Bernhard smiled and winked.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2