Shortly after the occupation of The Netherlands on May 10 1940 Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, together with members of the Dutch cabinet and her German son-in-law Prince Bernhard, went into exile in London.
'Radio Oranje' support
Wilhelmina took a very active role in urging Dutch citizens to remain strong and not to co-operate with the Nazi’s. She did this by fervently addressing ‘her’ people over the illegal radio stations ‘Radio Oranje’ (Radio Orange) and ‘Radio Brandaris’. How much impact the Queen’s speeches had on the people at home is not quite certain but what we do know is that she had great admiration for her audacious fellow Dutch men and women who defied the German enemy in whatever way they could.
A cup of tea
The Engelandvaarders - those who had managed to escape to England - were invited by the Queen to her villa in Maidenhead. She served them a cup of tea and inquired after their well being. Another purpose of her invitation was to obtain vital information about the situation and atmosphere at home.
After the dangerous journeys which Engelandvaarders had undertaken, their new role in England was not immediately cut and dried. Especially during the first months of their stay this meant boredom was frequently lurking round the corner.
To enable the Engelandvaarders to socialise and have a place of their own, the Queen decided to provide the nearest thing to a home away from home. Out of her own pocket she donated a space for a society club in London at 23 Hyde Park as a further token of her appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit of the Engelandvaarders. The club was endowed with the name ‘Oranjehaven’ which means Orange Haven. Both the colour of the bricks and the family name of the Queen, Orange-Nassau, making this a rather fitting name.
Here, upon their first arrival, the newcomers received food, clothes and pocket money. The presence of a piano, books and games served to keep spirits up.
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Queen Wilhelmina - Nationaal Archief in The Hague, The Netherlands
Front 'Oranjehaven' - Private collection Anke ter Doest
Interior 'Oranjehaven', piano playing - Nationaal Archief in The Hague, The Netherlands
Interior 'Oranjehaven', game with bottles - Nationaal Archief in The Hague, The Netherlands
Tulpen voor Wilhelmina - Agnes Dessing
De Schakel - Frank Visser