Tears as Bernhard leaves palace for last time
6 December 2004
AMSTERDAM — Prince Bernhard’s body left Soestdijk Palace for the last time on Sunday. The cavalcade arrived after 2pm at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, where he will lie in state until the funeral on Saturday.
Accompanied by his daughters, Queen Beatrix and the princesses Irene, Margriet and Christina, Prince Bernhard left Soestdijk at midday. Son-in-law Pieter van Vollenhoven also accompanied the royal entourage.
In an emotional scene, most of Bernhard’s grandchildren and great grandchildren watched as the prince’s cortège departed from the steps of the palace where the German-born prince had lived with his late wife, Queen Juliana, for 67 years. Some of the onlookers, including two of Princess Margriet’s four sons, Prince Maurits and Prince Pieter-Christiaan, wept openly.
The palace staff — who face an uncertain future now that both Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard are deceased — also looked on. A group of eight horn-blowers sounded the “end of the hunt” as the prince’s cavalcade left.
Bernhard’s hearse also passed an honour guard of 200 war veterans who were there to mark his work on behalf of the Allies during World War II. Thousands of spectators gathered outside the palace gates, and many more lined the route to The Hague.
The motorcade consisted of a military police escort (1 commander and 16 motorcyclists), the hearse (driven by the prince’s chauffeur and accompanied by Bernhard’s valet), a car carrying the prince’s daughters and another car carrying the crown equerry and the undertaker.
The coffin arrived at Noordeinde shortly after 2pm. Eight men and a military police commandant carried the coffin — which was draped in the Dutch flag and a white carnation, a tribute to Bernhard’s habit of wearing one each day — into the palace. The prince was laid in state in the Noordeinde chapel.
Politicians and diplomats will pay their final respects to Prince Bernhard on Monday. The chapel will be open to members of the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Diagnosed with cancer, Prince Bernhard, 93, died on 1 December in the UMC hospital in Utrecht. He will be laid to rest in the royal family tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on Saturday. His coffin will be placed next to that of his wife, who died in March 2004.
Bernhard will be interred in the uniform of the Dutch air force, despite being barred from wearing military uniform after being implicated in a bribery scandal with US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed in the 1970s.
Juliana and Bernhard used Soestdijk, between Baarn and Soest, as their official residence from 1937, but it became property of the Dutch State in 1971. The government must now decide what to use the estate for in future.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news