Greet Hofmans Crisis - A Faith Healer at the Dutch Court

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Prof. Fasseur and publisher 'Balans' are getting sued fo defamation by the children of Gerrie van Maasdijk. Mr. van Maasdijk who was general secretary and ' kamerheer' of Queen Juliana the 50-ties.

His son Robert and daughter Eleonora were already in 'Pauw & Witteman' a year ago or so, complaining about Fasseurs description of their father. They say that the description is untrue.

source: royalblog.
Han van Bree finished his PhD at the university of Leiden about the religious conferences of Queen Juliana at Castle Het Oude Loo in Apeldoorn. Van Bree states that it was injust that the Queen had to stop attending these conferences in 1956 by the 'three wise men' of the commission Beel.

Van Bree states that Juliana was a victim of the spirit of the time, by being a woman in a men's world. He also states that Juliana always strictly held the difference between 'private' and 'public', also in these pacifistic religious meetings and they did not influence her role as monarch.

He continues that Bernhard didn't like pacifism or these conferences and he felt threatened by the faith healer Greet Hofmans & some of Juliana's friends who strengthened Juliana and made her not accept her husbands debauch life style any longer. The marriage was about to burst but Bernhard retained his position by getting the foreign media to write about his wife's unstable nature.

The 'commission Beel' decided that Juliana had to break contact with the conferences, with many of her courtiers and with some of her best friends.

Nice that yet another researcher has come to this point of view. The interpretation of Prof. Fasseur (lackey of Beatrix according to some) on this marriage was outragious as he sided with Bernhard almost completely. I hope that the biography of Jolande Withuis wich will be published soon, will shed even more light on the matter.

A pity that Juliana didn't live to see this rehabilitation, though I suppose she wouldn't be happy that the dishonorable behavior of her husband would come to light yet again.

Geloofsconferenties Juliana geen gevaar staat - Vorsten

More on Bernhards role:

He seemed mainly interested in saving his own position.

According to Van Bree it was Bernhard who was completely responsible for creating the one-sided image of Juliana.

Bernhard didn't like pacifism. And he felt threatened while his wife became more independant & the people around Juliana turned more and more against Benrhard due to his appaling behavior. Juliana also had her doubts about her husband becoming too independant with the Bilderberg conferences and his economical missions. In hindsight she was completely right about these worries.

Bernhard needed to keep the marriage in tact as his own status derived from it. That is why he encouraged people to talk about the great influence of Greet Hofmans on Juliana. In those days people believed a man's word before that of a woman. Juliana became the victim of her husband but she was never the weak and naive woman as some thought. It was Bernhard who told the commission Beel that his wife had to break of contact with her friends, courtiers and others. After he succeeded his position was secure again. His wife even saved his position in the 70-ties when it was discovered that he accepted bribes.

'Bernhard had vooral oog voor eigen hachje' - Vorsten

It would be very interesting to know what Pss Beatrix thinks of this book. It has always been said that she supported her father in this period & had a difficult relationship with her mother.
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I did not know this story. But I've been reading. It is a very interesting story.
I don't want to feel sorry for Juliana, because I don't think she was a person who would welcome it, but it's quite hard not to be sad for her.

I think she was uncomfortable with power and conflict (and revealing what she endured, perhaps) or she would have been able to toss Bernhard out.

It's worth noting that she didn't have a great example from her parents, either, even though her mother was imperious and her father was marginalized.
That Bernhard received so much freedom had indeed everything to do with the sad life of his predecessor, prince Hendrik. A kind man by heart, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He was selected by four conditions: 1) royal, 2) healthy, 3) protestant 4) won't be meddling in politics. Point 4 was taken very seriously. He couldn't do anything for the army as he was a former Prussian officer and a Prussian in a high position of the Dutch neutral army could harm our neutrality in the eyes of Britain and France. He received 100.000 guilders a year (2 million euros in todays value), which was a lot in 1901, but the sum never changed even though there was an enormous inflation during and after the first world war.

After the war he lost his small income from Mecklenburg ánd his relatives expected him to help them financially. He didn't have anything to say at home either. Often Wilhelmina stayed at het Loo while Hendrik was in The Hague. The notoriously frugal Wilhelmina however ordered the kitchen of the palace in The Hague to be closed as she found it too expensive to keep it open for one person (her husband). So Hendrik was forced to eat out. His money problems were well known. Business men would be afraid to be sitting next to the prince at a dinner as they feared he would be asking them for a loan.

With nothing to say and nothing useful to do the prince sought distraction where he should not have. It made him an easy pray for blackmailers. Queen Wilhelmina's dubious confidente François van 't Sant was supposed to make sure things were hushed up. After his death there was a large debt. The inheritance was not accepted by Princess Juliana. Queen Wilhelmina did accept it and it took years before the affairs were arranged. Larter on several half-siblings of Juliana popped up. One of them -Pim Lier- was involved in a scandal in the 1980s as he had killed his wife in what was supposed to be a double suicide but had lost the courage to kill himself.

Later in life Wilhelmina and Hendrik came to an understanding. And in her memoires she recognises that it must have been hard for her husband and that he must have been very lonely. Juliana was however very fond of both her parents and she always praised her father. Both of them adored their daughter.

Hendrik''s fate was well known in royal circles too, which was one of the reasons why it was difficult for Juliana to find a husband. The Dutch government and Prime Minister Colijn didn't want to repeat the sad example of prince Hendrik. As a consequence Bernhard received a lot of freedom and his own money (Juliana's dotation was split in two after the marriage). According to Bernhard he himself had made this happen, as he heard stories about Hendrik's sad life from his father Bernhard sr. This however is incorrect, the thing was already decided before the marriage and his father died a few years before there was any talk of an engagement. Even the supposed friendship of their two fathers, an excuse that Bernhard used to get himself introduced to Juliana, was not known to anybody at the Dutch court and probably made up.

He had a position in the army and during WWII in London he was even more free to do whatever he wanted since there were very few people checking him, not many courtiers were able to follow Wilhelmina to London. He and Juliana were seperated for five years and both of them led their own lives, in Bernhards case with lots of champagne and mistresses. King George VI says that Bernhard was the only person who actually enjoyed the war. When they returned to Soestdijk in 1945 it must have been a shock for both of them. The marriage would never recover from the years apart. Bernhard perhaps didn't want it to.

As for tossing Bernhard out: I am not sure if that would have been a possibility in the 50-ties. Few European countries were changed more by the revolution of the sixties/seventies but in that time the country was one of the more religious and conservative countries in Europe. The cabinet sided with Bernhard, a divorce would most likely have led to a constitutional crisis and perhaps an abdication.

There are always two sides to a story and to a person. When he died his grandchildren all seemed terribly upset. He could be a very charming man, was a lot of fun to be around and he wasn't stupid either. He made sure that all his grandchildren would receive a proper education as they needed to provide for themselves and as they couldn't count on the RF to stay in power for ever.

Juliana wasn't the easiest person. She seemed like a sweet old granny to most of us. But in how far that carefully constructed image is the result of an act is unsure, acting was after all one of her great hobbies. The Orange propaganda machine perhaps made her everybody's favourite 'cousin', 'neighbour', 'sister' etc.

Privately she was known to have a bad temper. Former prime minister Piet de Jong -a friend of the family- said that he and his ministers referred to her 'Anna Pavlovna blood', a variation of Queen Wilhelmina referring to her 'Russian blood' whenever she threw a tantrum. Fasseur quoted a letter form 1942 already, in which Bernhard reflected how nice their meeting in Canada had been as she didn't have one of her 'explosions' this time. Also the commission of three men refers to 'fits of rage' . She could be rather difficult at times, was very opinionated and clearly had favourites among her grandchildren.

Some of her courtiers were rather 'strange', first and foremost the Baron Walraven van Heeckeren who thought the whole Hofmans-affairs was a papal plot to remove a protestant head-of-state (note that two of the members of the comitee of three wise men were catholics ánd that Pss Armgard had converted to catholicism) and also saw a neo-fascist plot where the Netherlands would be taken over by West-Germany while Bernhard was controlled by people like Eisenhower and Frits Philips.

Note that a lot of the negative Bernhard anecdotes may be biased. There is a group of stauch anti-Bernhard pseudo-historians, scenario-writers and journalists in The Netherlands. The rumours of the Ursula clinic may be just that: rumours. We need to wait at least thirty years to see how much truth there is in it.
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If Juliana was able to tell him she wanted a divorce, which she did, then obviously she either didn't believe it would cost her throne or didn't much care. Either way, given Beatrix was still a minor, who were they going to get to replace her?

Obviously the queen had her negative qualities and Bernhard had positive ones, but if Bernhard was not willing to change at all (which he wasn't) and pretty much only wanted to stay married for his position, it seems like that's the unhealthy point where a divorce is called for. Even in those conservative times, I wonder that some kind of separation agreement with reduced resources for Bernhard couldn't be reached. It wasn't necessarily only Ms. Hofmans Juliana needed to be free from.

However I do have the vague impression there was some small degree of affection between them, despite everything. Maybe that was the difference.

(I may as well ask this here — did it never seem strange to Willem-Alexander to give his daughter the same name as one of his illegitimate half-aunts?)
There are rumours that the aim was to replace Juliana by Beatrix and put her under a regency of Bernhard while Juliana was commited to a psychiatric wing of the Ursula clinique in Wassenaar.

That is what Walraven van Heeckeren claimed at least, and he added that Beatrix was ambitious enough for it. He also claimed that Juliana was in love with Bernhard 'like an 18 year old girl with her first lover'.

But as I said the baron was regarded as an odd figure. In the letter above -a report of a conversation about the Hofmans affair with the baron by Henk Lunshof, editor of the Telegraaf newspaper- he is described as confused, weak, a typical aristocrat and exceptionally stupid.

It is clear at least that Juliana had some affection for her husband and when he was in trouble due to the Lockheed scandal she tried to find a compromise instead of dropping him completely.

Annejet van Zijl wrote in her biography that the monarchy is a fairy tale factory. The country treasured the image of a happy family at Soestdijk. And that is what the country got after the comission of wise men was finished with their work. Among other things Juliana was advised to spend more time with her family - as she had stopped attending the traditional saturday horse ride with her daughters as Pss Armgard was there as well.

To show the country that all was well again the couple celebrated their silver wedding in great style. Van Zijl summarised Bernhard's character rather well IMO: 'The Netherlands wanted a fairy tale prince so the prince started to tell fairy tales'.

We will never know what would have happened if Juliana would have continued her wish for a divorce. But it is likely that the government would have added pressure to prevent such a thing.

What I always found curious is that in all of these stories Wilhelmina -who was still alive- seems to be absent. Van Zijl noted that she was shielded from much as it was painful for her as she had tried very hard to ensure that her 'dearly beloved child' would escape the fate of a loveless marriage.

As for the name Alexia: it raised some eyebrows at the time indeed. But it is unsure if WA even ever met his half-aunt. Queen Beatrix supposedly never met her half-sisters Alexia and Alicia. Princess Christina did send them a tape recording of Bernhard's funeral and they were allowed to pay their respects before the ceremony. And according to Jutta Chorus many of Bernahrds revelations in his postumous interviews with the Volkskrant were a shock to Beatrix. She was supposed to have exclaimed: 'what man did we burry?'.
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He doesn't need to have met her, it's more 'what rock did he stick his head under?' to never have heard her name. At least I'm not the only one to find it odd.

Beatrix being surprised isn't that surprising. Innumerable shady characters and people who've done worse things than Bernhard have also been doting parents. I'm not sure if that makes things easier or harder for their children.

There might have a crisis, a deposition, or Juliana might have shown that it was just fine to be divorced, and preferable to putting up with everything imaginable from an infinite taker. We don't know what would have happened, but I can certainly see Juliana regaining a good bit of strength and confidence independently. (There never would have been a Lockheed, for one thing.). Even with loving him and remaining fond of him, he wasn't good for her, and definitely not as her husband.

Unfortunately for Queen Wilhelmina the situation she tried to prevent arguably ended up even worse. In her case it was upsetting but somewhat inconsequential. With Juliana and Bernhard it was destructive for decades, under a pleasant royal veneer. When the princess is a captive queen and the prince isn't so charming, sometimes the fairy tale needs to be rewritten.
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