THE NETHERLANDS: New World for a Princess

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Two years ago all The Netherlands was thrown into an uproar by the disclosure (TIME, June 25, 1956 et seq.) that Queen Juliana had called upon a lady faith healer to restore the sight of her fourth daughter, Princess Maria Christina (nicknamed Marijke). There was talk of the faith healer's insidious influence over the Queen; there were even reports that Juliana and her consort. Prince Bernhard, were so divided on the princess' care that they were considering divorce. But the Queen banished the healer, the furor subsided, and, acting on the advice of physicians, the royal couple decided on a new approach. Marijke. who is blind in one eye and has only partial vision in the other, had been sheltered from normal children's activities, and a helping hand stood by in case she fell. The new approach: let her fall. "The idea," one official explained, "was that she would learn and keep from falling the next time."

Marijke, who will be eleven this month, has learned to swim. After many a tumble, she has mastered a bicycle, now rides it to school every day. Someone always goes with her but only to see her across the busy highway in front of the royal palace. She can read, does not require any special arrangements to keep up to her class. Soon Juliana's subjects were happily speculating about a miraculous restoration of Marijke's vision.

Last week the Dutch government issued a communique denying that there had been a sudden or sensational improvement in Marijke's sight. She can see no better than before, the government said. But by treating her as a normal girl, her royal parents undeniably had opened a new world for the little princess.