Dutch prepare for PrinceBernhard's final farewell

10th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 December 2004 , AMSTERDAM — In what is being described as the "end of an era", the Dutch royal family finalised preparations on Friday for the funeral of Prince Bernhard.

10 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — In what is being described as the "end of an era", the Dutch royal family finalised preparations on Friday for the funeral of Prince Bernhard.

Bernhard, 93, will be interred next to his wife, Queen Juliana, in the royal family vault in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on Saturday.

About 42,000 people paid their final respects to the prince this week at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, where Bernhard has laid in state since Sunday. The chapel was open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Politicians and diplomats paid their final respects to Bernhard at the chapel on Monday.

Members of the Dutch Lower House of Parliament and the Senate later paid tribute to the prince in a joint sitting in the Knights Hall in The Hague. Lower House chair Frans Weisglas described Bernhard's death as the end of an era.

Royal court staff, security officers, employees of the Government Information Service RVD and the staff at the Queen's Cabinet were to be given the opportunity Friday to bid their final farewells to the prince. The royal family was not planning to assemble again until Saturday.

Instead, Bernhard's daughters Queen Beatrix, the princesses Irene, Margriet and Christina and Pieter van Vollenhoven (Margriet's husband) supervised final preparations in the church on Friday. Bernhard's grandchildren and extended family were also seen at the church, but the royals had left again by 3.30pm.

Saturday's funeral will have a military character to honour Bernhard's lasting connection to the armed forces and his role as the chief commander of the Dutch forces during the latter part of World War II. Trumpeters will play the "Last Post" as the prince's coffin is carried into the crypt.

If cloud cover is not too low, fighter jets will fly over the church in a missing-man formation, signifying that a soldier has not returned from battle. The German-born Bernhard flew with the RAF during World War II after helping the royal family escape the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands.

He will be interred in the uniform of a Dutch air force officer despite the fact he was stripped of the right to wear a uniform after being implicated in a bribery scandal with US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed in the 1970s.

Bernhard died of cancer on December 1 at the UMC hospital in Utrecht. He was brought from Soestdijk Palace on Sunday to The Hague. The funeral procession will leave Noordeinde Palace at 09.40am on Saturday and arrive at the Nieuwe Kerk at 12.15pm. The funeral service will start at 12.30pm.

Pastor Carel ter Linden will officiate and the service will be broadcast on Dutch public and commercial television stations. The Nieuwe Kerk is being decorated with thousands of flowers. White carnations, closely associated with the prince who wore a fresh carnation every day, will occupy a special place in a floral arrangement near the pulpit.

In the city of Delft itself, roads have been swept and repaved where necessary and flower boxes, advertisements, posters, cars and bicycles have been cleared from the streets. An alcohol ban has also been imposed on the city as part of an emergency ordinance designed to maintain public safety.

A total of 18 royal households will be represented at the funeral. Notable attendees are Belgian King Albert II, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, Danish Prince Henrik, Britain's Prince Philip, King Carl Gustave and Queen Silvia of Sweden and King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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