9 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Prince Bernhard, 92, has hit out at various writers and publications, claiming that he is a frequent target of “mean and unfounded accusations” about his marital life and wartime actions.
The husband of former Dutch queen, Princess Juliana, said he wished to do justice to the reputation of his parents and that his public response to the allegations was prompted by his own “sense of honour”, public news service NOS reported.
Prince Bernhard claimed in an open letter published by daily newspaper De Volkskrant on Saturday that “offensive lies” were being told about himself and his family. He particularly criticised Tomas Ross, the author of the 2002-published book Omwille van de troon (For the Sake of the Throne).
The German-born Prince Bernhard has taken offence to persistent claims he fathered children out of wedlock, and allegations he betrayed the fight against Adolf Hitler in World War II and that his mother had a colourful lifestyle. “The borders of decency have long been breached,” he said.
Bernhard asked the former director of the Government Information Service (RVD), Hans van der Voet, to investigate the claims made about him and his family. The former public servant was allowed access to the Prince’s private archive at Paleis Soestdijk and the royal house archive in The Hague.
The former RVD director investigated four subjects: claims that Bernhard’s mother led a licentious life and was a Nazi sympathiser; that Bernhard allegedly fathered two sons during WWII and who are now living in London and a letter that Prince Bernhard allegedly wrote to Hitler offering himself as governor of an occupied Dutch nation.
The fourth subject deals with allegations that Prince Bernhard leaked secret information about the Allied WWII operation Market Garden.
The campaign, involving thousands of paratroopers being dropped behind German lines, started on 17 September 1944. It was designed to seize the bridges leading to Germany to hasten the conquest of Berlin. But the battle of Arnhem failed and the war continued until May 1945.
Prince Bernhard spent much of the war in London with the Dutch government-in-exile, while Princess Juliana and the couple’s children stayed in Ottawa, Canada, for their safety.
He flew as a pilot for the British RAF from 1942 to 1944, and was appointed Commander of the Dutch forces in 1944. But suspicions about his actions have often been raised.
Born in 1911 to German nobility, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld was briefly a memebr of the German Reiter SS Corps. He claims he joined the SS to allow him to finish his university studies. He married Princess Juliana on 7 January 1937.
The full Van der Voet reprot — which can be read in Dutch on the Volkskrant website (www.volkskrant.nl) — supports Bernhard’s letter and his denials.
“An adequate factual basis cannot be indicated for any of the accusations,” Van der Voet said, claiming that rumours or suspicions are awarded a higher form of truth and are more or less accepted as fact.
But the Prince’s letter did not respond to claims he had an out-of-wedlock daughter in Paris. “I have inspected all publications about her, but in this case I am not in a position to say anything. And that’s that,” he said.
Van der Voet said he was not instructed to investigate the allegation and the public can make its own conclusion.
Bernhard also claimed that he had never before been able to react to publications containing untruths. And while refraining from reacting to publications with untruths was in general a wise policy for leaders, Bernhard said, not doing so meant he had slowly developed a complex about it.
But the Prince did not believe his letter would remove from circulation the alleged untruths about him. “I thought it was my obligation to say something and I am very happy with that.” Bernhard said he was not concerned that his letter might spark more reactions.
Prime Minister Balkenende — who is politically responsible for the comments and activities of the Prince — refused to comment about the contents of Bernhard’s letter.
But he stressed that the Prince had the right in the last phase of his life to tell his side of the story. The Labour PvdA, Democrat D66 and Socialist Party (SP) did not raise any objections to the letter either.
Queen Beatrix was — according to Prince Bernhard — aware of the letter and expressed understanding for his actions.
Author Thomas Ross said he had evidence and sources to substantiate his allegations and that the Prince’s letter had come too late. “If the Prince has objections about publications, he could have take action earlier by going to a judge,” Ross said on Radio 1 Journal.
Jan Kikkert also remained firm in his assertions and was unconvinced by the Prince’s denials. Kikkert also found it strange that former RVD chief Van der Voet never made contact with him to discuss the matter.
Several other authors, Gerard Aalders, Philip Dröge and Hans Galesloot, also dismissed Van der Voet’s report.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + Dutch royalty