June 29, 1911- birth of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, husband and prince consort of Queen Juliana.
Bernhard Leopold Frederik Everhard Julius Coert Karel Godfried Pieter Prinz von Lippe-Biesterfeld was born in Jena, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the German empire. He was the eldest son of Prince Bernhard of Lippe and his wife Baroness Armgard von Cramm. At the time of his birth he was only a count, as his parents' marriage was considered morganatic. In 1916 his Uncle Leopold IV retroactively accorded their marriage dynastic status, and in doing so made Armgard a Princess and her sons gained their Prince status. Biesterfeld was added at the time to mark the new cadet line of the family.
He had a younger brother Prince Aschwin who was born in 1914. He was a Nazi supporter so he lost contact with Bernhard for years. He lived in NY for decades were he worked at the Metropolitan museum of art in Asian art. He married French Simone Arnoux but had no children. When he was dying from Parkinsons his brother convinced to move home to the Netherlands where he died in 1988. He was a godfather to Prince Constantijn.
Though after WWI the family lost their principality, the family retained wealth. Bernhard spent much of his childhood at his family's new estate Castle Reckenwalde which was in East Brandenberg (now Poland).
He was of poor health as a young man and the doctors never thought he would live a long life. He was reckless and often got in car accidents. He attended boarding schools and graduated in 1929 from a school in Berlin. He went on to study law at University of Lausanne.
He joined the Nazi party while he was in university, though he denied just how deep he became involved. But he was never radical in political thought though he did show sympathy to Hitler in the early days.
He worked with the German chemical company IG Farben and would eventually end up working for their office in Paris.
He met Princess Juliana at the 1936 winter Olympics. Juliana's mother was looking for a suitable husband for her daughter who was 17. As he was from a princely house and protestant he was considered a suitable match. They were engaged September 8 1936 and were married in the Hague January 7, 1937. He had signed a pre-nup which was very strict on what he could and could not do. He was given Dutch citizenship and he changed his name from the German to the Dutch spelling.
During WWII he didn't originally want to flee the country with the royals, but was convinced to lead their military mission in London. While his wife and children took refuge in Canada, Bernhard remained in London with her mother. Thanks to George VI he was screened and allowed to do work with British intelligence (originally they were reluctant due to his German heritage and his history). He became a spitfire pilot (like his grandson Willem Alexander h would continue as an avid pilot through out his life). After the Netherlands were liberated he returned with the family and helped negotiate the German surrender there.
In 1948 his wife became queen when her mother abdicated. He served on the boards of a number of corporations. He was active through the rest of his life in trying to get Polish soldiers proper recognition for their involvement in the liberation of the Netherlands. It was not achieved in his life time, In 2006 his daughter Beatrix would reward the Polish 1st independent parachute brigade the Military William order, the highest Dutch military decoration, in recognition of their involvement.
He was ill for many years. He died in 2004, from lung and intestinal cancer. he was buried December 11 at Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. His wife had died in March of that year, and his son in law Claus had died in 2002. Unlike them both, he was transported in the under carriage of a cannon, and there was a definite military feel to his funeral as he was a war veteran.
Prince Bernhard and his wife had four daughters:
-Beatrix: succeeded her mother as Queen in 1980 and abdicated in 2013. She was married to Claus von Amsberg and had three sons, including the current King Willem Alexander. She has eight grandchildren, 7 girls and 1 boy. Her son Johan Friso died in 2013.
-Irene: caused controversy when she married the catholic Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma. They had four children (2 sons, 2 daughters) and 10 grandchildren (7 girls and 3 boys). In 1980 she moved back to the Netherlands, her divorce finalized in 1981. Her former husband died in 2010.
-Margriet-born in Canada during WWII. married Pieter van Vollenhoven and has four sons. They have 11 grandchildren.
-Christina- she was nearly blind as her mother has meassels when she was pregnant with her (could see some with special glasses). She was married to Cuban exile Jorge Guillermo who she divorced in 1996. They had three children (2 sons and 1 daughter) and have four grandchildren. She was a music teacher and dance therapist. She died in 2019 from bone cancer.
He also had two children from affairs:
-Alicia von Bielefeld: her mother was never identified. She is a landscape architect in the US (born in 1952, five years younger then Christina).
-Alexia Grinda-Lejeune: (born in 1967) was born to French model and socialite Helene Grinda. Was born the same year as Willem Alexander. She was raised by her stepfather Stanislas baron Lejeune.
His paternity was only acknowledged after his death.