[Marxism] The class struggles in Holland: an episode of princely politics in Dutch civil society, or, water under the bridge

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Feb 10 16:45:47 MST 2004

I might have gone to visit my old christian auntie May last week in a dry
spell, but the Dutch Queen Beatrix's father stirred up public opinion with a
piece of his own recently (my Mum babysat Beatrix and her sister Irene just
after the second world war when her mother, Queen Juliana, opened an
Amsterdam creche. This was before I was born, must have been 1946 or 1947.
Later my uncle when on safari with Prince Bernhard. So then you have this
inescapable royal reference in family history).

Anyway. In a surprise open letter published in the newspaper De Volkskrant
on 7 February 2004, his Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
(age 92), husband of the Queen mother, specifically sought to deny
out-of-wedlock children, allegations of wartime betrayal and rumours about
his mother's alleged licentious life. He was apparently offended by
falsehoods published about himself and the royal family in the past, and
wanted to set the record straight.

Maurice de Hond's survey revealed that 75 percent of the Dutch population
reacted positively to Prince Bernhard's letter, and believe he should be
allowed to defend himself against a series of public allegations in the
past. About half of respondents, however, did not know whether to believe
the Prince, or his accusers.

The ex-security intelligence officer Hans van der Voet then gained
unrestricted access to Royal archival material to research accusations made
against the Prince, on topics such as (1) alleged Nazi sympathies of his
mother, (2) that Bernhard himself was the illegitmate son of a soldier lover
of his mother (colonel Pantchulidzew), (3) that Bernhard was the real father
of two sons of lady Ann Orr Lewis in London, and (4) a letter allegedly sent
to Hitler en Himmler, in which Bernhard would have said in April 1942 he
might like to be appointed sovereign of the Netherlands by the German
authorities. The Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool ran the following nuanced
headline article about the controversy:

Friends favour for Prince Bernhard, but does it help ?

A friends favour, that's the report of ex-Dutch security intelligence
service director Hans van der Voet concerning some chapters out of Prince
Bernhard's past. It is an attempt to clear the Prince's name, but maybe he
helped the Prince from the frying pan into the fire.

Political parties generally reacted this weekend with reserve about the open
letter. The general tendency expressed was that the Prince has to be able to
defend himself, after which parliamentarians said, that they would not judge
the issue any further. "The Prince has a right in the last phase of his life
to tell his side of his story against the accusations directed at him", said
[christian-democrat] Premier Jan Balkenende. He too declined to make
substantive comment.

This goodwill attitude is very friendly towards a 92-year old man with a
great record of service. But is it wise to give him room in this way to
defend himself ? It appears as though Balkenende wants to achieve two things
at once a little too easily. He defends the Prince, yet also does not take
responsibility for the result.

That is a bit off the mark. In fact, this means any ministerial
responsibility for the actions of Bernhard is dismissed. Earlier Bernhard
had ventured to explore the boundaries of moral discourse by openly
supporting the violence of employees of Albert Heijn against a shoplifter,
without being corrected by Balkendende [Some time ago an Albert Heijn
supermarket hit the news, because two assistants had apprehended a thief
stealing goods from the store. They did so with a considerable amount of
violence. Prince Berhard offered to pay the fine which the two Albert Heijn
employees had incurred for their handling of the situation. Later, another
supermarket hit the news when a woman who was supposed to have stolen goods
was chased by whole posse of shop assistants who apprehended her and used so
much violence, that she later died - JB].

If Balkenende really wanted to do Bernhard a service, then the premier would
have hired an independent researcher, who would have done a thorough study.
Because justabout all the criticism is now concentrated on the role of Van
der Voet. He told yesterday on a TV actualities programme how he, as
confidant of the Prince, was able to calmly rummage in the private archive,
which Bernhard would not allow any outsider to do. That shows the weakness
of the research, because others could not establish whether it is complete.
The research is thus notable for its brevity. If it had been intended as a
last word about these affairs, then it ought to have been much more

The ex-intelligence officer researched the validity of stories about the
apparent licentious lifestyle of the mother of Bernhard, the two sons which
Bernhard was supposed to have in London, the "city holder's letter" from
1942 and the accusation that Bernhard betrayed the battle of Arnhem in the
second world war.

Bernhard would have been able to disarm all accusations with the remark that
the burden of proof was on accusers. Nobody for example has presented the
notorious letter from the war. Much remains unrevealed in the research or
unmentioned, including the Lockheed Affair and the supposed illegitimate
daughter of Bernhard in Paris. About the last-mentioned conclusion everyone
can draw his own conclusion, according to Van der Voet. "I have investigated
what is not true", he said. But does that mean that everything that wasn't
contested, is true all of a sudden ? This is a curious way of clearing up
the issue.

The letter by Bernhard has the effect of ensuring that the controversy will
be stirred up again. Bernhard says that he doesn't care about it, but what
does Balkenende think about it ? Well, the Premier has had enough trouble
with royal affairs, to want to be confronted with old controversies once

Reference: Jurriaan Bendien, "Doing it yourself" - Dutch Socialist party
councillor in Amsterdam speaks out  Marxmail Post, Sunday 26 oktober 2003

Keep on talking in my sleep 'cause I haven't seen my baby all week
Now you kids you all agree, is that the way it's supposed to be
Let me hear you, let me hear you say yeah, yeah, yeah
I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
Witness, witness, yeah, I want a witness

- Rolling Stones, "Can I get a witness"

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