Dutch Court, Courtiers and Friends of the RF

If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Henri M.

Royal Highness
Jan 3, 2004
Eindhoven / Maastricht
The Grootmeesteres, the Hofdames and the Dames du Palais 1

These three functions can probably best find their British equivalents in: Mistress of the Robes, Ladies in Waiting and Ladies of the Bedchamber. There are a lot of misunderstandings about these functions. The most common misunderstanding is that these ladies are in employment like cooks, gardeners, footmen, etc. This is absolutely not the case in the Netherlands.

I would like to give you an explanation, based from a chapter out of the book Aan het Hof. De monarchie onder Koningin Beatrix’, (‘At the Court. The monarchy under Queen Beatrix’) by Remco Meijer (ISBN 90 5713 462 4).

In former times, in terms of préséance, the Grootmeesteres (litterally: the Grand Mastress, the British equivalent is: Mistress of the Robes) was the highest function in the hierarchy at the Court. Until the 1980’s the Grootmeesteres even organized her own lavish New Year’s receptions in the Kurhaus in The Hague. Under Queen Beatrix the Grootmeesteres no longer is the highest functionary: that position has gone to the Grootmeester (the Lord Chamberlain), who is the chief executive of the total royal household organization (around 600 persons of staff, including the royal forestry and the security).

The Grootmeesteres has a honorary and non-paid function in the royal household, with as her core business: the representation of the Queen. At official royal functions, the Grootmeesteres stands directly behind the Queen, flanked by the Chief of the Military House and the Grootmeester. Together these three persons form the top of the royal household organization. The high protocollair rank of the Grootmeesteres is still visible in the fact that she takes part in the ceremonial royal procession on Prinsjesdag, the annual ceremonial assembly of the States-General (Netherlands Parliament) and rides in her own gala-coupé.

The Grootmeesteres was introduced in 1818 by the then Princess of Orange (Princess Anna Paulovna, born Grand Duchess of Russia). Before 1818 there already were comparable functionaries at the royal and the formerly stadtholderly court, but Princess Anna Paulovna was the first to use the name Grootmeesteres. Since then there has always been a Grootmeesteres. At present the Grootmeesteres represents the Queen in social contacts with members of the Corps Diplomatique, with the International Court of Justice in The Hague and with (foreign) nobility. Therefore she organizes and goes to receptions, attends weddings and funerals in the name of the Queen. Due to her visible attendance in high society, the Grootmeesteres has a frequent appearance in the society columns of the national newspapers. In name the Grootmeesteres also is the chief of the Hofdames and the Dames du Palais but in reality the schedule and the shifts of these ladies are made by the Queen’s Secretary.

In her 27-years Reign so far, Queen Beatrix has only had two ladies in the function of Grootmeesteres. When she assumed the kingship in 1980, the then Grootmeesteres, Elizabeth Baroness Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh née de Meyïer had just died and Queen Juliana asked one of her Dames du Palais, Catharina (‘Kathy’) Bischoff van Heemskerck née Telders formerly Dowager Baroness Schimmelpennick van der Oye, to act as an ad-interim. When Queen Beatrix assumed the kingship, she announced a major reorganization of the royal household. Catharina Bischoff van Heemskerck was already quite aged, but probably the young Queen wanted an experienced figure to help her with the reorganization of the royal household organization. The relationship of the Grootmeesteres with the Queen is founded on a strong personal bond of loyalty, confidence and discretion.

Catharina (‘Kathy’) Bischoff van Heemskerck was first married to Alexander Baron Schimmelpenninck van der Oye but personal drama rocked her life: in 1941, after 10 months of marriage, her spouse was shot dead by the Nazi-Germans. In 1946 the young Dowager Baroness remarried with Frederik (‘Freek’) Bischoff van Heemskerck who just was appointed as Crown Equerry and Stablemaster to Queen Wilhelmina. Via her new spouse Kathy Bischoff van Heemskerck made her entrance in the royal household and finally served three Queens as Hofdame, as Dame du Palais and as Grootmeesteres.

The present Grootmeesteres is Martine Louise Amélie van Loon née Labouchere formerly Delprat, born in 1936. She counts as one of the closest confidantes of the Queen. Martine Labouchere is a scion from an old Amsterdam patrician family which made a grand fortune in private banking and equities. The Banque Labouchere (now sold to the Dexia Group) was known for having Amsterdam’s crème de la crème amongst its clients. In 1973 Martine Labouchere married with the much older and dazzling rich Amsterdam shipping magnate Daniël Delprat, also president of the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce. It was ‘the marriage of the year’ in Amsterdam’s high society. Daniël Delprat, a remarkable and wellknown entrepreneur died in 1988.

Three years later the widow Delprat remarried with the Amsterdam nobleman –and also a widower- Jonkheer professor dr. Maurits Nanning van Loon. The wedding was held in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, where also Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus married, back in 1966. The Queen did attend the wedding of the Grandmastress to Jonkheer Van Loon, a very rare appearance because the Queen seldomly appears at weddings outside her own family. The wedding was celebrated by the 'court chaplain', ds. Carel ter Linden, who also would become the officiating minister in the marriage of Prince Constantijn (2001), the marriage of the Prince of Orange (2002), the funeral of Prince Claus (2002), the marriage of Prince Friso (2004), the baptism of Princess Catharina-Amalia (2004) and the funeral of Prince Bernhard (2004).

The Van Loon canal-estate is one of the finest particulier Amsterdam canal-estates and is known for its fabulous interiors and its art. The house is now a museum, open for visits. Martine van Loon and her husband moved to the (also grand) house next to the museum and there she still lives. Jonkheer Maurits Nanning van Loon died in 2006. Because he had no male issue, this kown Amsterdam noble dynasty will become extinct with Jonkvrouwe Philippa, the daughter from his first marriage to Lady Ghislaine de Vallois. She is married to the French nobleman Marc-Antoine Colomb de Daunant, from Le Gard (near Nîmes, France).

(continued in next post)
Last edited:
The Grootmeesteres, the Hofdames and the Dames du Palais 2

(continued from the previous post)

The Grootmeesteres leads 6 Hofdames.
A Hofdame litterally means Lady at the Court but the best British equivalent maybe is: Lady in Waiting. In the Netherlands the Queens (and in the stadtholderly era, the Princesses of Orange) simply never went ‘out’ without an appropriate escorte and so they, traditionally, had a sort ladies of honour in their slipstream. Later these ladies became more and more part of the royal household and became known as Hofdames.

The Grootmeesteres and the Hofdames are living in their own suites in one of the palaces when they are 'on duty'. The ladies have their duties in different shifts, which usually lasts one week. The Hofdames do not ‘work’ for the Queen. Man can probably best describe them as ‘approved ladies for Her Majesty's company’. They enjoy a high protocollair rank in the hierarchy at the court. The Hofdames sit in full gala at state banquets, travel in royal limousines, are served on their own by the royal household and have access to the very close circle of the Queen. They can receive and entertain guests on their own and act as the eyes and the ears of the Queen.

Man can not apply for the functions of Grootmeesteres or Hofdame. It is a function for which people are asked in all discretion. Nobility is no longer required. Queen Beatrix prefers a mix of good descent and a prominent social stature. The Grootmeesteres and the Hofdames are not paid for their services. All costs made for their functioning are covered by the Queen. Most ladies have links with aristocracy and patriciate (= non noble upper class, let's say 'Old Money').

At the moment the Queen has 1 Grootmeesteres and 6 Hofdames in her slipstream:

M.L.A. (‘Martine’) van Loon-Labouchere formerly Delprat, Grootmeesteres (patrician, widowed to an aristocrat)
Jonkvrouwe R.D. (‘Reina’) de Blocq van Scheltinga formerly Teixeira de Mattos, Hofdame (aristocrat)
M.J. (‘Mienthe’) Boellaard-Stheemann, Hofdame (patrician)
O.A. (‘Lieke’) Gaarlandt-Van Voorst van Beesd, Hofdame (patrician)
J. (‘Julie’) Jeekel-Thate, Hofdame (commoner)
M.P. (‘Ietje’) Karnebeek-Van Lede, Hofdame (patrician, married to an aristocrat)
E.J.M. (‘Elizabeth’) Baroness van Wassenaer-Mersmans, Hofdame (married to an aristocrat)

When these ladies leave the active service, they are appointed into the Queen’s honorary household and become a Dame du Palais Honoraire or a Hofdame Honoraire. The difference between a Dame du Palais and a Hofdame mainly was that the first were married ladies and the second were unmarried ladies. Later the Dame du Palais evolved more and more into a function positioned between the Grootmeesteres and the Hofdames. The best British equivalent possibly is: Lady of the Bedchamber. In the 1980’s Queen Beatrix reorganized the royal household organization and she made an end to the function of Dame du Palais. The Queen still uses it for the honorary household, for the retired Hofdames, so to say. At the moment there are seven ladies in the honorary household:

C. (‘Kathy’) Bischoff van Heemskerck-Telders formerly Baroness Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Dame du Palais Honoraire (married to a patrician and widowed to an aristocrat)
M.A.R. (‘Mieke’) de Kanter, Jonkvrouwe Von Mühlen, Dame du Palais Honoraire (aristocrat, married to a patrician)
C.L. (‘Clara’) van Zinnicq Bergmann, Baroness De Vos van Steenwijk, Dame du Palais Honoraire (aristocrat, married to a patrician)
A.V. (‘Ada’) de Beaufort-Van Sminia, Hofdame Honoraire (patrician, married to an aristocrat)
H.G. (‘Henriëtte’) Goudzwaard-Blom, Hofdame Honoraire (commoner)
A. (‘Aggie’) Labouchere, Hofdame Honoraire (patrician)
M.C.C. (‘Marie’) Nahuys-Wijnen, Hofdame Honoraire (married to a patrician)

The princesses in the Royal House do not have a Hofdame in their own service. But due to her high position as the spouse to the Prince of Orange, one or two Hofdames are ‘detached into the service of Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands’. Mostly man can see Ottoline Antoinette (‘Lieke’) Gaarlandt-Van Voorst van Beesd escorting Princess Máxima. She was asked to be a tutor to the new and unexperienced Princess and now has become a confidante to her. This Hofdame lives with her husband in Wassenaar, the residential municipality in the outskirts of The Hague where also the royal domain ‘De Horsten’ (The Eyries) is located. So she lives close to the Prince of Orange and his family, who live in villa ‘De Eikenhorst’ (‘The Eyrie in the Oakwoods’) in the middle of the royal domain.
Last edited:
a really interesting article henri m. it's interesting how they sometimes depict these ladies not anymore as "helpers to royals" but to royals on their own, with the mention of the representation of the queen and the permission of old times grootmeesteres to celebrate their own parties at the palace.
Thank you very much Henri, this is most interesting!

I have read the book of Mr de Zinnicq Bergman, husband of Clara de Vos van Steenwijk, which is rather entertaining to.

Is Marie de Kanter the grandmother of Barbara de Kanter, former girlfriend of Prince Constantijn?
M.A.L. de Kanter née Jonkvrouwe von Mühlen

Marengo said:
Is Marie de Kanter the grandmother of Barbara de Kanter, former girlfriend of Prince Constantijn?

I have made a small mistake in the titulature of Marie ('Mieke') de Kanter née Jonkvrouwe von Mühlen.

According to the Namenlijst of the Netherlands Nobility, the family Von Mühlen was incorporated into the Netherlands nobility from foreign (German?) nobility in 1828. King Willem I has recognized its nobility and in the Netherlands they are listed as Jonkheer/Jonkvrouwe Von Mühlen. It is possible that in the original (German?) nobility there still are barons and baronesses Von Mühlen (maybe the firstborn male only).

I have no idea if M.A.L. ('Mieke') de Kanter née Jonkvrouwe Von Mühlen, Dame du Palais Honoraire, is related to Barbara de Kanter. A bit of googling learned that Barbara de Kanter is now Mrs. Barbara de Loo - De Kanter and is a vice-president somewhere in the banking sector (Goldman Sachs & Co, like Prince Friso once was?).

I see that the De Kanter family is 'Blue Book' (patriciate) and is married into aristocratic families like Von Mühlen, Van Boetzelaer, De Beaufort, Van Hooft Graafland, Van Hardenbroek, Beelaerts van Blokland, and a few more. If Barbara de Kanter comes from the patrician family, she is quite 'well bred' so to say and was a good choice for Prince Friso.
Last edited:
If she is Mieke then it is the grandmother of Barbara de Kanter. I believe she was in the special scoolclass of crownprincess Juliana to. I remember her in the programme 'Hoge Bomen' about Queen Juliana, describing her trips to the palace.
Class of four blue-blooded ladies

Marengo said:
If she is Mieke then it is the grandmother of Barbara de Kanter. I believe she was in the special scoolclass of crownprincess Juliana to. I remember her in the programme 'Hoge Bomen' about Queen Juliana, describing her trips to the palace.

I remember the names from the famous picture of young Princess Juliana's private schoolclass, with three aristocratic classmates. According to the blackboard on the background it were Jonkvrouwe Maria ('Miek') de Jonge, Elizabeth Baroness van Hardenbroek and Elise Baroness Bentinck posing with their teacher, miss Van de Rijden. These three demoiselles were carefully selected to join class with Princess Juliana at Huis ten Bosch.
They became friends for life.

I think you were confusing Jonkvrouwe Maria ('Mieke') von Mühlen (who became Queen Juliana's Dame du Palais) with Jonkvrouwe Maria ('Miek') de Jonge, who was a classmate to her.
Last edited:
I think you are right, I have looked it up in my Wilhelmina biography and he gives the names you mention.
It was also this Mieke de Jonge that was interviewed for the programme and who gave a very diplomatic awnser when the interviewer asked her if Juliana had a nice childhood compared to her own (well, I had an exceptionally nice childhood).
From what I vaguely can remember this Miek was also married to a de Kanter, but then my memory of is is not to clear and to have two Miek(e)'s marry a different de Kanter of the same generation would be very coincidential, so to much of a coinsidence probably.

Anyway, I think it is safe to assume that Mieke von der Muhlen is related to Barbara de Kanter, there aren't that many important de Kanter families in The Hague, so...

Now about the Queens hofdames, I think I pretty much know how they look except Jvr. de Blocq van Scheltinga, does anybody have a picture of her?
Gilbert Monod de Froideville, master of ceremonies of HM The Queen resigned last week. He is succeeded by Willem Cosijn, who has a background in the navy. Monod de Froideville receives the function 'kamerheer honorair'.
Marengo said:
Gilbert Monod de Froideville, master of ceremonies of HM The Queen resigned last week. He is succeeded by Willem Cosijn, who has a background in the navy. Monod de Froideville receives the function 'kamerheer honorair'.

And he was bestowed with the Honorary Cross in the House Order of Orange.
Het Koninklijk Huis

Hmz, does that one come with a sash? ;)
Huisorde van Oranje

Marengo said:
Hmz, does that one come with a sash? ;)

The House Order of Orange is meant to decorate Dutchmen for special merits proven towards the Sovereign and/or Her House.
The House Order of Orange has three grades:

I - Honorary Cross in the House Order of Orange
(This is a medal, see picture). This was awarded to Gilbert Henri André Monod de Froideville, Master of the Cermonies of Her Majesty The Queen.

II - Grand Honorary Cross in the House Order of Orange
(This is worn around the neck)

III - Grand Cross in the House Order of Orange
(This is a sash with a breast star)

The decoration is a four-armed golden cross, with red enamel and behind the cross a wreath of golden leaves.

At the frontside, in the heart of the cross, the Horn of Orange, surrounded with the motto 'Je Maintiendrai'.

At the backside, in the heart of the cross, a crowned golden 'W' .

The riband is orange.
Thanks for the clear explanation Henri. I assume that Monod de F. went into retirment btw? Nan should be thrilled by that prospect ;)
I was wqondering; when Beatrix was still a crownprincess did she have ladies-in-waiting of her own or did she 'borrow' one from her mother too (like Maxima is doing now)? I also wondered what male occupation is comparable to that of lady-in-waiting? I assume that as King Willem IV will need a helping hand every now and then too...
I imagine that it was pretty much the same as it is now. Except we do need to bear in mind that she was brought up during war time, so she might not have had access to ladies in waiting when she was in Canada, and who knows what happened afterwards?

The DRF seem to be very in tune to what is acceptable and what is not most of the time, so I imagine that they did not have ladies in waiting when all of the other Dutch citizens were just barely scraping by if you know what I mean.

Very interesting question though, I wonder where we might find a definitive answer? I will go have a poke around and see what I can find.
Last edited by a moderator:
Juliana didn´t have a lady in waiting in Canada during the war, she did however ´take´ a friend. This lady, Martine Roell, was the wife of Jhr. Willem Roell, who was executed by the Germans in the war as he stayed in The Netherlands and was involved with the resistance. I am not sure but I believe a freule Elisabeth Feith also travelled with Juliana to Canada, she was mainly a nanny. The daughter of Willem and Martine Roell is Jvr. Renee Roell, who is one of the best friends of Queen Beatrix and a godmother to the Prince of Orange.

Wilhelmina used the opportunity to get rid of as much´nonsense around her position as possible, so no ladies in waiting for her either, just female secretaries and some adjudants.
thank you for all the explanations for lady in waiting , sorry that i ask but it is not very clear for me, Maxima has a permanent lady in waiting or only some times??????
Is the lady in waiting who teached her the protcol and etiquete??
I presume before to married she had a lot of tutors not only to learn the language but to learn to be a princess, how to walk , how to seat, how to eat, all the formalities , where did she learn all that????
As posted by Joris on the Benelux Royals MB:

Now that's quick! HM found a new Grandmaster of her House, Marco Hennis, someone with quite an international experience. Her present Grandmaster Kronenburg (what's in a name) accepted the very important job as Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after being Grandmaster for just a very short time (according to what I read somewhere he didn't feel really comfortable in his function as Grandmaster).
The Grootmeester/Grandmaster is the Head of the Royal Household.

From www.koninklijkhuis.nl:

Hare Majesteit de Koningin heeft het voornemen drs. M. Hennis te benoemen tot Grootmeester van haar Huis.

Hij volgt medio maart in deze functie mr. E. Kronenburg op, die vandaag is benoemd tot secretaris-generaal van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken.

Drs. M. (Marco) Hennis werd in 1955 geboren in Haarlem. Hij heeft sociale en organisatie psychologie aan de Universiteit Leiden gestudeerd.

In 1983 trad de heer Hennis in dienst van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. Hij is werkzaam geweest in diverse functies op het ministerie alsmede in Islamabad, Belgrado, Parijs (Wereldbank), Sarajevo en Kabul. Op dit moment is hij Consul-Generaal in Istanbul.

15 februari 2008
Her Majesty has,by Royal Decree,appointed mr.drs.F.L.M.Duyn as her general secretary as of may 9th.

His predecessor.mr.Th.J.van Leeuwen,returned to the Foreign Office and is appointed second Chef de Poste at our embassy in Helsinki,Finland.
Het Koninklijk Huis
Grand Mastress Martine van Loon-Labouchere organised an annual event for the corps diplmatique in Amsterdam this thursday. The Duke of Parma intended to be present at the reception at hotel l'Europe but while there he spontaniously accepted the invitation of Martine van Loon to participate in the rest of the programme too. The diplomas later made a carriage ride through Amsterdam. The Duke was seated in the first carriage wih Mrs. van Loon and Mrs. Mary Rost-Onnes (of the bankers). The diplomats stopped at a cafe for drinks and later went to the house the van Loon family at the Keizersgracht. Here they enjoyed some champagne that is usually served at the French embassy.

source: de Telegraaf
Joris on the BRMB provided a link to some pictures of the carriage ride. Martine van Loon is wearing a hat worthy of HM herself ;):

Koetstocht | Gespot
Sjoert Klein Schiphorst (1963-) will be the new marshal of the Dutch court, he will succeed Hans van Eenennaam, who functioned as court marshal for 10 years.

Klein Schiphorst previous occupation was manager of estate Duin and Kruidberg and the star restaurant Santpoort-Noord. He is originally from Nijmegen, went to the Hoge Hotel School in maastricht, worked for the Golden Tulip Hotels became hotelmanager of Hotel and Castle Vaalsbroek before he went to Duin & Kruidberg. He is married and has 3 children.

Source: royalblog.nl
Thanks for the info Marengo. What is the role of a Marshal in a royal court?
Mrs. Martine van Loon-Labouchere, Grand Mistress of the Queen, has her 'own' museum, dedicated to the van Loon family at the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. At the moment there is an exhibition about various ladies that married into the van Loon family.

Mrs. van Loon-Labouchere comments about it here:

YouTube - mevrouw Van Loon - Labouchere geeft toelichting op de tentoonstelling Vrouwen van Van Loon

The video is also shown at the exhibition, and many people had to smile about the posh accent of Mrs. van Loon (when I was there anyway). She seems a wonderful woman with a good sense of humor.

::::Museum van Loon::::
Thanks for the info Marengo. What is the role of a Marshal in a royal court?

The court marshall arranges the dinners, guestrooms etc etc. A bit like the manager of a hotel.
Yesterday there was the annual carriage ride through Amsterdam with ambassadors and such. As each year Martine van Loon-Labouchere was in the first carriage.

Among other things, the group (around 50 people) went to the cigar shop 'Hajenius', on the Rokin. After that they went to Cafe Hoppe, to Museum Huize van Loon, on the Keizersgracht, and finally to some art galeries in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat.

The thing was sponsered by the Stan Huygens Journaal and Lucas Bols B.V. The carriages were borrowed from people who bought them as a hobby, though the van loon Museum is trying to buy a carriage, since they bought the carriage house back a few years ago. I suspect the budget was tight, as no diner was included and by the time it was over most people seemed rather hungry.
Last edited:
Martine van Loon-Labouchere has not been accompanying HM on the state visits to Oman and the UAE. She stayed at home due to health reasons. This was already announced in December btw.
Queen Máxima has added a new lady in waiting to the court: Pien van Karnebeek-Thijssen. She is married to Jhr. Jan Derck van Karnebeek (untitled nobility), who is a nephew of Ietje van Karnebeek- van Lede, the longest serving lady in waiting (since 1979).

Jan Derck van Karnebeek is chief sales manager of Heineken. He and his wife and four children (Herman, Philine, Alexine and Juliëtte) lived abroad for several years due to his work.

Nieuwe hofdame voor koningin Máxima - BINNENLAND - PAROOL

Mrs. van Karnebeek already escorted the king and queen at the Holland Festival a few weeks ago.
Last edited:
he king has hired three new advisors. Two of the names have been released: Pien Zaaijer, who already was an advisor of the couple when they were still the heirs. The other one is Olger van Dijk, who used to work at the ministery of interior affairs where he was the personal assistant of minister Liesbeth Spies.

It is a full time job and they will advise the court on matters like the economy, business, culture, sports and social cohesion. The three will only share the different agendas when the third advisor has been officialy instated. The new advisory board will exist next to the other advisors of the couple: the chairmen of the first and second chamber, the vice president of the Counsil of State and their general secretary Jaap Leeuwenburg.

Koningspaar neemt drie nieuwe adviseurs aan - BINNENLAND - PAROOL
Top Bottom