Wilhelmina (2001)

 

 

 

Director:      Olga Madsen. 

Starring:     Anne-Wil Blankers (Wilhelmina), Ricky Koole (Young Wilhelmina), Jasperina de Jong (Emma), Mark Rietman (Franois Van't Sant), Johann von Blow (Jonge Hendrik), Vic de Wachter (Hendrik), Mirjam Stolwijk (Juliana), Geert Lageveen (Bernhard).

TV series, 4 chapters, 50 minutes each; the Queen of the Dutch helps lead Dutch resistance to Nazi-occupation

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

 

Chapter 1. 

Miss van der Poll is told to put her dolls away because playtime is over.  She starts to protest, but the future queen's mother says they are strong people and they certainly do not whimper.  Mother tells Wilhelmina that since her father has died, Wilhelmina is queen, but she will be regent until Wilhelmina comes of age.  The regency will last for eight years. 

Eight years later.  September 6, 1898.Wilhelmina is crowned queen.  She pledges herself to the welfare of the Dutch people.

Wilhelmina's desk is covered with big stacks of files she has to go through.  Her mother comes in and tells her that Prime Minister Pierson is here to see her and she shouldn't be nervous because the man is very friendly.  The Queen is introduced to the Prime Minister and he compliments her on her inaugural speech.  She has with her a long list of things she wants to bring up to the Prime Minister.  After the meeting, Wilhelmina returns to her mother saying:  "Mother, I have him eating out of my hand."

The Queen and her mother take a carriage ride.  Wilhelmina says that the Parliament has rejected all of her wishes for various programs.  Mother says then she must accept that.  The Queen refers to that as "nonsense".  Her mother warns her to be careful! But it doesn't sound like the Queen is going to be cautious.  Looking at a painting of William III she says:  "You made the Netherlands into a glorious nation.  My goal is to be as great as you were. Help me achieve this." 

The Queen Mother asks Wilhelmina about marriage and children.  Wilhelmina says she wants to make the decision of who she marries by herself.  Her mother completely agrees with her"  "It's an affair of the heart."

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany is of the opinion that Wilhelmina must marry a German prince.  His candidate is Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia.  The woman walking with her is her sister-in-law and she suggests that her brother-in-law Hendrik would be the best candidate.  Wilhelmina walks in the gardens with Friedrich and Hendrik.  The feeling among many is that Hendrik is a good man, but very shy and clumsy.   She talks first to Wilhelm and then walks with Hendrik. 

After having a formal dinner with the Queen, everyone leaves the table except for Wilhelmina and Hendrik.  She asks him:  "Hendrik, don't you think we could spend the rest of our lives together?"  Hendrik has some reservations about marriage.  He says he loves his country as much as Wilhelmina loves her homeland.  And he would not be governing in the Netherlands. Wilhelmina says he will be treated with honor and at times be her representative.  He will often be standing by her side  Hendrik seems interested, so Wilhelmina says:  "You may propose to me."  Hendrik promptly gets down on one knee and asks her to marry him.  She accepts and asks him to give her a "real" kiss instead of one on the hand.  So he kisses her on the forehead.  

They come out of the room now to where everyone is waiting for an announcement.  The couple both have big, broad smiles on their faces. 

The Queen Mother is very upset at the news that Parliament will not give Hendrik his own allowance.  She tells the Prime Minister that they promised Hendrik he would have his own allowance.  The Prime Minister apologizes, but says the Social Democrats are against it.  She dismisses the minister.  Wilhelmina comes in and mother tells her the bad news.  This makes Wilhelmina angry, so she says she will pay Hendrik's allowance herself.  She tells her mother:  "I want to marry as soon as possible."

Feb 7, 1901.  The newlyweds arrive home and Hendrik tells her he's so glad that they are finally alone.  Inside the house they embrace and kiss each other passionately. 

The newlyweds go for a horse ride at Het Loo Palace (in Apeldoorn, 60 miles southeast of Amsterdam).  Wilhelmina much prefers this palace over the Noordeinde Palace (in The Hague, South Holland).  Hendrik says he loves the woods of Mecklenburg (in northern Germany comprising the western part of the federal state of Mecklenburg known as Mecklenburg-Schwerin bordering on the Baltic Sea). 

Hendrik goes hunting with some other men and afterwards shows Wilhelmina three long rows of different dead animals: pheasants, deer and foxes.  Wilhelmina does not seem to like this.  And Hendrik keeps stealing glances over at a very attractive brunette woman. 

The Queen Mother is informed that a German lady, an acquaintance of the prince, has moved into a hotel in the vicinity of Het Loo Palace.  She tells the two men that delivered the information to make sure Wilhelmina does not learn of this. 

Hendrik is a bit bored by having to attend so many different kinds of ceremonies.  The latest one is presenting medals to Dutch Soldiers from the Dutch Indies. 

Wilhelmina is upset that the new Prime Minister wants her to agree to cuts in the military budget.  She shoos away Hendrik when he comes into her office.  He shows her a landscape puzzle that he put together and Wilhelmina says she would rather paint one herself.  She says she hates hunting.  And, she says, she is too busy to go horse riding with him.  This does not sound good for the marriage, but Wilhelmina insists that her highest priority is to serve the Dutch people.  Hendrik asks if she would object to his going to see his family in Germany?    She offers a counter-proposal.  How would he like to be chairman for the Red Cross?  He doesn't seem interested.  He defends his interest in hunting even if the newspaper criticize him for this.  Hendrik says he is helping to keep the overall balance of animal population under control.  

Hendrik is bored of playing solitaire.  He looks out his window and then closes the drapes.

Meanwhile, Wilhelmina says a dangerous thing:  she is beginning not to like parliamentary democracy.  She tells her chief of staff that she will call a cabinet meeting (even if such a meeting has not been called for in 40 years). 

In a bar Hendrik is introduced to Lt. Jan Derk Lier.  The prince consort says he sees that the lieutenant is also in the service of Her Majesty.  The three men at the table laugh.

Wilhelmina lectures the men at the cabinet meeting about not cutting defense spending.  Meanwhile, a pretty bar maid has caught Hendrik's interest and he goes and talks with her.   

The same two men who informed the Queen Mother about a certain pretty woman from Germany now tell Wilhelmina that Hendrik has been drinking in public.  Wilhelmina demands to know everything.  She says:  "Do not spare me."  So the two men comes closer to her desk. 

Wilhelmina quickly marches to see her mother.  She chases all the servants away from the area and tells her mother that Hendrik has been having affairs with other women.  Wilhelmina finds out that mother already knows.  Mom says that Wilhelmina must be patient with this type of problem.  Wilhelmina says she hates Hendrik and asks how can she live with such a rake?  Mom replies:  "You must endure Hendrik's behavior.  For the sake of the monarchy."  Wilhelmina says she is pregnant and probably will give birth in April.  Her mother is very pleased and hugs her daughter.  Wilhelmina says she is so worried about having another miscarriage.  She doesn't think she could go through another one. 

Wilhelmina gives birth to a healthy baby girl. 

It's much later now.  Wilhelmina and Hendrik look like a middle-aged couple.   Hendrik arrives late to a formal dinner and Wilhelmina scolds him publicly.  He tells her not to make such a big fuss about it. 

A message comes in that Russia has called for a general mobilization of its military forces.  "All of Europe is now at war."  The Queen insists that the Netherlands will be a neutral country in the coming World War I.  At the same time she proclaims mobilization. 

Wilhelmina inspects a group of soldiers.  Meanwhile, Hendrik wants to help the Germans.  A messenger comes out to tell Wilhelmina that Hendrik has gone to help the Germans and the Queen responds:  "Help German soldiers?  That idiot will endanger our neutrality."  She tells the messenger to tell her husband to go back to The Hague. 

Hendrik tells a friend that he does not like living in The Hague.  His friend tells him that he has arranged the loan Hendrik wanted.  This pleases Hendrik.  Later, he goes to the home of a woman with two children.  It looks like Hendrik has two families going. 

Wilhelmina inspects more troops.  She comes home and finds her husband playing with their daughter Julia.  She says hello to Juliana and tells Hendrik that she just found out that he is a patron of the scouts.  She says that's at least better than Hendrik spouting off with pro-German views.   Now she asks Hendrik to leave the room because she wants to be alone with her daughter. 

The two men who provide the royal family with information tell the Queen that Hendrik has put himself in a position to be blackmailed.  This is because of the children of his other family.  The mother of the children is a former chambermaid.  After the men leave, Wilhelmina cries. 

When Hendrik comes back, Wilhelmina will not speak directly to him.  Through a servant, he learns that his wife is going to Het Loo Palace.  He also finds out that his chambers have been moved to the other side of the house.  From today he must use the side-entrance. 

World War I is over.  Wilhelmina paints a landscape.  A messenger brings her news that the German Kaiser is at the border.  He is asking for asylum in the Netherlands. 

Hendrik has Lt. Jan Derk Lier spy on his mistress.  He later goes to Wilhelmina to tell her that the aristocracy in Germany has lost its position because of the revolutionaries.  He says:  "I have nothing left.  What should I do?"  Wilhelmin responds:  "Be glad that you are safely here."  At this moment, the usual messenger shows up again.  The leader of the Social Democrats, Troelstra, has proclaimed a revolution!  He wants to bring down the Queen and the monarchy. 

Wilhelmina immediately calls for long over-due reforms.  First, she tells Hendrik to stop completely with his hunting because the Social Democrats oppose it.  Hendrik tells her:  "My dynasty needs saving as well."  She fires back:  "Your dynasty has lost, I must now save mine." 

The police department has information on the current situation for the Queen.  They believe the situation is so serious that the Queen should seek refuge in England.  Wilhelmina is so worried that she tells her young daughter:  "I may have to give up my throne."  They may have to go to England. 

Suddenly, good news arrives for the Queen.  "Troelstra has given up.  The revolution has been called off.. . . The Socialists have failed utterly."   She says she will make an address to her people, but the messenger says the Cabinet will not like that.  So the Queen rides through the streets, while the people cheer her on. 

Later the Queen celebrates.  She offers a toast:  "To the best day of my life.  I averted a revolution."  She goes to talk with the portraits of her ancestors and thanks them for the strength their examples gave her. 

Wilhelmina tells her mother that Hendrik bought a pearl necklace worth 2 million French francs.  His check wound up on the desk of the Prime Minister.  "How embarrassing!"  She has decided not to pay for the necklace.  The Queen adds that this extravagance will make her look like a fool, since she told her people they must be economical.  She believes her husband is trying to undermine the monarchy. 

Wilhelmina turns for help to the former superintendent of police, van 't Sant.  He was promoted for his helping the monarchy survive and now the Queen wants his help.  She frankly tells him that her husband is having several affairs.  And he has children with a woman named Mien Lier.  Moreover, a woman named Alice van Hemert is pregnant with Hendrik's child.  She asks Mr. van 't Sant to befriend the prince and then influence him.  This way any future affairs can be "curbed".

 

Chapter 2. 

Wilhelmina has had 30 years or rule and says that now ". . . the crown weighs heavily upon my head."   She again asks her ancestors them to give her the strength she needs.

Wilhelmina complains about the employment rate decreasing.  Mr. van 't Sant comes to see Her Majesty.  He reports that her husband still visits Mrs. Lier on a regular basis.  And Mrs. Lier is pregnant again.  Van 't Sant tells her he will put more pressure on Hendrik.  And he does.  He walks with Hendrik and asks him why he's attending the opening of Mrs. Lier's hair dressing shop?   Hendrik explains that Mrs. Lier is a friend and he put some money in the shop.  Where did he get the money?  He took out a loan.  Van 't Sant asks him if that isn't a bit risky?  Hendrik says:  "It is no fun to be merely decorative all the time." 

Van 't Sant meets with Mrs. van Hemert and tells her to please disappear as she promised she would.  She says she wants 200,000 guilders.  Otherwise she will tell the Socialist press that she is the mother of his child.  Van 't Sant talks her down to 40,000 guilders.  Before leaving she tells Van 't Sant that she is hoping the Queen will lose her throne.

Van 't Sant goes to talk with the Queen.  She thanks him for keeping the monarchy off the scandal sheets, but she objects that he has not stopped her husband's escapades. She still says he is a danger to the monarchy.  Wilhelmina now asks how's her husband is doing?  He says that Hendrik lives in a dream world.  He lives in this dream world where he has money and he's always promising to give people money.  Van 't Sant says he promises the Queen that he will do everything possible to stop Hendrik from buying so many things (which the Queen inevitably has to pay for).  And now, what about this Mrs. van Hemert?  Van 't Sant assures the Queen that she will no longer be a problem.  That makes the Queen happy. 

Van 't Sant goes home to his wife, who says that the Queen doesn't appreciate all that he does for her.  But something has caught her husband's eye.  It's a death notice of Dr. C. G. w. Van Vredenburch, the Dutch Emissary in Brussels.  He goes to see the brother of the deceased and tells him that his brother had a child with a mistress, who now threatens a scandal.  Van 't Sant now asks the man for 40,000 guilders to get rid of the woman.  The brother hands over a check for the money and Van 't Sant assures him that the lady won't bother him again. 

Between 1925-1926 and 1933-1939 Hendrikus Colijn served five times as Prime Minister. He was a staunch monarchist and through his position, Wilhelmina deeply involved herself in most questions of state.  It's the 1930s and there is terrible unemployment and misery.  She tells Colijn that she wants economic interventions to help the Dutch people.  She says she is also worried about what's happening in Germany.  Adolf Hitler is now the chancellor of Germany.  The Queen says the man is very sinister.  Colijn agrees but says it is "not alarming".  He also agrees with her that they should strengthen the Dutch defense system. 

Hendrik's primary friend has been his dachshund, Helga, but now the little creature dies.  Hendrik is very upset about it.  Crying he tells his wife that Helga is dead.  Wilhelmina has no sympathy for him or the dog and merely walks around Hendrik without saying anything to console him. 

Van 't Sant now gives the 40,000 guilders to Mrs. van Hemert. 

Wilhelmina's daughter, all grown up, is a very giving person.  She is very concerned that employment is increasing and benefits given to the people are decreasing.  She says:  "We need social legislation."  And economic interventions.  Jula now gets a big smile on her face because her mother has proposed that the two of them and Mr. Colijn go on a cross country tour showing their concern for the people in this terrible depression.  Jula leaves.  Grandmother says to the Queen that Jula must marry and soon in order to strengthen the dynasty. 

Mother tells Jula to go speak to the people on line for help and go alone.  So Jula does that and seems very adept at it.  Mr. Van 't Sant shows up to tell the Queen that something has happened to her mother. Mother and daughter rush home to grandmother.  They come in to speak to grandmother, but she says she wants right now only to speak to her daughter.  The other people leave the room.  The Queen Mother asks her daughter not to disgrace her after she is with Our Lord.  Wilhelmina must do her duty as the Queen Mother has done.  Wilhelmina agrees.  Her las request is:  "You must reconcile with Hendrik."  Her mother breaths her las breath   The Queen cries. 

Mother now tells Jula it is time for her to get married.  She explains that Jula only has two choices:  Prince Karl Bernadotte of Sweden or the German Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. 

At night the Queen goes to see her husband.  He isn't home.  Van 't Sant finds him in a brothel.  He drives Hendrik to the palace.  Hendrik and the Queen see each other and she asks him how did he ever get this way?  Hendrik gives an excellent answer:  "It's because I am so unhappy."  She ignores what he just said and says that all her illusions have been shattered.  She admits:  "I have been lonely for so many years."  It doesn't appear that she is even trying to reconcile with her husband.  He goes to his room.  He turns to tell her that when he dies he wants a white funeral like the Chinese have.  Wilhelmina asks him not to give up for Juliana's sake. 

The next day Hendrik goes over to the headquarters of the Red Cross. 

The Queen gets a big surprise.  The brother who Van 't Sant defrauded out of 40,000 guilders now charges Van 't Sant criminally.  Wilhelmina is shocked.  She tells Mr. van 't Sant to go to the examining judge and get the whole file for her.  And now the Queen gets Van 't Sant over to the palace immediately.  Van 't Sant explains that the situation is very delicate because it again involves her husband. 

The pressure builds on the Queen to get van 't Sant to resign.  People don't like this matter being kept so secret.  The Queen says:  "This matter must come to nothing." 

The Prince has had a heart attack and is now in the hospital.  The Queen says then she must go see him.  A woman staff members tells her:  "His Majesty has passed away."  The Queen takes a hard gulp and sees the disbelieving eyes of her two staff members at her composure.  So she tells them:  "We are strong and we do not whimper."   She goes to tell Jula. 

Van 't Sant starts burning evidence in the case, such as letters and photographs. 

The funeral is held.  Jula cries, but mother is stone faced.  Later Wilhelmina goes to visit the grave of Helga, the dachshund, owned by her husband.  And now she cries. 

Wilhelmina gets Van 't Sant to swear that he will reveal none of the secrets of the royal household.  She makes him her personal security advisor.  He starts to say something, but she cuts him off saying that it's alright.  Van 't Sant leaves.   

Wilhelmina now starts canceling appointment after appointment.  She goes to talk with her ancestors once again. 

Wilhelmina wants to resign as queen.  She says she just doesn't have the strength to go on anymore.  The Queen wants to hand off her duties to Juliana.  She really sounds depressed even telling Van 't Sant that:  "I am nothing."  She sees herself as a failure compared to her great relatives.  Van 't Sant asks a good question about Juliana:  "Don't you think she should marry before she ascends to the throne?"  Otherwise, Juliana will have to be Queen alone without emotional support and the Queen already knows how hard that is.  The Queen agrees.  She will try to hang on a little longer.

Three people, two men and one woman, intently watch Juliana.  They have the appearance of being sinister.  But the younger man turns out to be the Prince of Lippe-Biesterveld.  With him are the Count and Countess of Kotzebue.  The Prince introduces himself to Van 't Sant asking to speak with Juliana.  Juliana comes in from horse back riding and sees the Prince.  She looks very shy, but she tells her female companion that the Prince has a sparkle in his eyes. 

The three visitors meet with the Queen and the Crown Princess.  Wilhelmina leaves the room, but says she wants to speak to the Prince in fifteen minutes.  The Queen asks the Prince what does he think of the current regime in Germany?  He says the Weimar Republic was a big mistake.  He doesn't believe in democracy.  The Queen asks him what would he like to do, if he came to the Netherlands?  He says he would like a military role.   

At a formal dinner the Queen says she has decided that the Prince and Princess should get to know each other better.  This pleases the two people in question. 

The whole retinue is attending a concert.  Van 't Sant shows up.  The Queen asks him what's wrong?  Hitler is furious that the Queen won't have the German national anthem played.  She tells her close advisor:  "Does he want me to let them play that horrible Nazi hymn?  I won't allow it."  If the hymn isn't played, all the German guests will have to return to Germany.  So the Queen reluctantly relents, but says that Hitler is trying to compromise the neutral position of the Dutch nation.  The conductor of the orchestra refuses to play the German anthem.  So he is replaced with  the conductor of the military band.

The song is played and the Nazis all give the Nazi salute, which irritates the hell out of the Queen.   She is so angry she has to close her eyes. 

 

Chapter 3. 

Wilhelmina's son-in-law says to her:  "It has happened, mother.  They have come."  She quickly broadcasts a statement to her people:  "My people, last night the German Wehrmacht attacked our nation suddenly and without any warning.  They did so in spite of their promise to respect our country's neutral position. I hereby protest strongly against these actions which are unbecoming to a respectable nation."  The cabinet meets and they say the Queen must leave the country and they should go too.  Another says they should stay, but the Queen should leave.  Prime Minister de Geer will make the decision. 

The Queen demands that her son-in-law go with her daughter to England.    The Prince of Lippe-Biesterveld protests that he is on active military duty.  He cannot leave.  Wilhelmina says that he works for her, so his duty is to follow her orders.  When the family is safe, then the prince may return.  The prince goes with his wife and two children. 

The Queen leaves the bomb shelter to ask Van 't Sant to take her to where she can speak to her ancestors for guidance.  He replies:  "There are German parachutists on that side of The Hague.  Only here can we guarantee your safety."  Angrily, she responds:  "This is driving me crazy."  A soldier comes over to tell the Queen that the cabinet wants her to seek refuge in England.  The Queen says never and goes back to the shelter. 

Van 't Sant's wife tells her husband not to go back to the Queen because it's too dangerous.  She then adds that even at this late hour, he thinks primarily of his Queen. 

The military report that the situation looks very bleak.  German tanks are headed for Rotterdam.  The Queen demands that she be allowed to go talk to the troops.  The high commander simply tells her:  ". . . I cannot guarantee your safety."  Van 'tSant tells her to go to London, but she refuses.  The high commander tells her to go to Zeeland where they are still resisting the German onslaught.   When the general leaves the Queen comments:  "My poor country. . . . We'll be trampled under foot by the German hordes." 

Wilhelmina goes outside to sit on a bench and be alone with her thoughts.  Van 't Sant comes looking for her.  She is still torn about what to do, to go or to stay.  She gets a telephone call from the Minister of War.  She tells him she's staying and:  "You can go to hell!"  Van 't Sant says the English have a ship just outside Hoek van Holland.  The Queen says she will go to Zeeland. 

The Queen is now aboard the English ship.  Van 't Sant is with her.  He comes to tell her that the commander doesn't think it's wise to go to Zeeland.  The Luftwaffe is bombing all over Zeeland.  So, Wilhelmina says they will go back to The Hague.  No.  That's also too dangerous now.  She is going to England.  Reluctantly, Wilhelmina says:  "To England, commander."

They arrive in London by train.  Wilhelmina greets King George VI and his wife Elizabeth.  But her greatest thrill is to see her daughter alive and well.  They hug. (Juliana's husband is with her.)

Once in the palace at Buckingham, Wilhelmina tells van 't Sant that he must find a way to contact the Netherlands:  "I must explain to my people that I did not flee the country."

At dinner with the King and Queen, Wilhelmina makes it clear that she will go back to her country as soon as possible.  She also says how proud she is of "my boys", the soldiers who put up a resistance to the Germans.  At dinner she receives bad news.  The Germans have just bombed Rotterdam and its important port.  Her army had to capitulate because the Germans threatened to bomb all the larger cities of the Netherlands. 

The Dutch cabinet is now all in London.  Prime Minister de Geer says maybe they should contact the Germans first to see if they can negotiate a better settlement for the Netherlands.  Wilhelmina almost regards that statement as treasonous.  She says:  "Our army may have capitulated, but the government has not." 

On Radio Orange, Her Majesty addresses the Dutch people.  De Geer says that the Queen is doing something that is dangerous.  "The Germans will be listening."  The Queen assures her people that the Netherlands will rise again. 

Wilhelmina learns that Mr. de Geer believes that Hitler cannot be defeated.  She says they will not negotiate with the Germans and that the prime minister is being "downright defeatist".  She now tells cabinet member Gerbrandy that she is firing de Geer and making him the prime minister. He will now lead the cabinet.  It may not be constitutional, but she is going to do it anyway.  Her son-in-law now comes in with the bad news that the Germans have reached the French coast.

The Queen tells her daughter that she must take the children and go to Canada because the Germans will be attacking England.  Juliana rejects this idea.  She doesn't want to go alone to Canada.  Her mother tells her that she needs her husband, Bernhard.  And she herself has to be here to protect the Netherlands.  She then tells Juliana that she will miss her every moment of the day while she is gone.  Juliana hugs her mother and tells her she loves her.

Wilhelmina tells van 't Sant that if the Germans reach London, she wants him to promise to shoot her dead before the Germans can reach her.  She also tells van 't Sant to find a small place for her in the country.  She can't stand palaces. 

In her new smaller home, Wilhelmina seems much happier, even if it's not so small.  She rides a bicycle around the area.  At dinner with her is Bernhard, van 't Sant and a female staff member.  Bernhard tells her that he has spoken to Prime Minister Churchill, who was cordial to him.  Later he says he has to go back to London.  Wilhelmina says she is concerned for his safety because the Germans are bombing London almost every night.  He says he just sleeps through the bombings.  He leaves.  A female staffer, says that Bernhard is the only one that really seems to enjoy the war.  This offends Wilhelmina and she fires the woman right there are the table.  She even went farther because she said she never wanted to see the woman again.  The woman watches Wilhelmina leave.  She is shocked and hurt at the same time. 

Speaking of Bernhard that way reminded, the Queen is reminded of her own husband's misbehavior and she asks van 't Sant to keep on eye on her son-in-law.  She also tells van 't Sant to send every Dutch refugee over to her so she can talk with them.  At court they always kept ordinary people away from her, but here she can do as she pleases. 

Six young Dutchmen come to England and they have tea with their Queen.  She asks one of the young men about his escape and his future plans.  He tells her he got out of the Netherlands and to Paris hanging between the wheels of a train and  from Paris he walked to Spain.  From there he came to England.  He wants to go back to the Netherlands but as a fighting soldier or an agent of some kind.  She asks another about the mood of the people?  He says that everybody is resisting the Germans because nobody will accept the Nazi regime.  He too will join the Allied forces.  Another man was a saboteur and had to get out of the country fast.  Another young man's brother was shot by the Germans for not giving them the information they wanted.

While painting another landscape, the Queen thinks about all the problems the young men told her about and how her people are suffering.  She speaks with her ancestors again. 

Some of the young men think that van 't Sant might be an agent for the Germans.  This is because back home there are some many resistance fighters being picked up by the Gestapo.  The Queen speaks to her people again.  She says that when she gets back, she will chose a new cabinet that will be dynamic and efficient.  Mr. Gerbany wants to talk to her Majesty.  She sends everyone out of the room.  Her new man in charge of the cabinet says that she has to stop with some of her actions.  The cabinet feels that she despises them.  He says:  "You mock the constitution by acting alone."  But she insists that it is she who is the representative of the people.  She has to hurry down to a bomb shelter as German bombers are heard overhead. 

The Queen and van 't Sant meet with Churchill.  She tells the prime minister that she is going to fly to Washington, D.C. and speak to the congress and to President Roosevelt.  Churchill says that's a good idea. Van 't Sant will stay here.  Churchill asks van 't Sant what does he make of the Germans being able to round up an enormous number of their agents all of a sudden?  There must be "betrayal".  Van 't Sant says he agrees.  Churchill thanks Wilhelmina and says they all refer to her as "the only King in Europe".

Wilhelmina is with her daughter and grandchildren in Canada.  She says that Roosevelt made no promises of American help for Europe. 

Back in London three cabinet ministers confront van 't Sant saying he is guilty of gross negligence.  They were not told that the Queen was leaving for the United States and Canada.  Van 't Sant just says that she is just visiting Juliana. But, they say, she is going to give an address to the people.  Yes.  So, in other words, she is acting like the head of state for the Netherlands. 

Juliana is shocked when her mother tells her that they will just have to change the constitution to allow more power for the monarchy. 

Mr. Gerbany tells van 't Sant that he should be dismissed.  He says van 't Sant can be either the royal secretariat or the head of intelligence, but not both, because that's what it says in the constitution.  He goes on to say that van 't Sant is fired. 

Wilhelmina tells Juliana about her future plans.  She is going to bring over Dutch refugees and they will tell her what they want.  Then she shall form a government and take that government back to the Netherlands when the time comes.  Juliana keeps asking her if that is constitutional, but Wilhelmina doesn't seem to care.  The men tell van 't Sant that their will be an investigation into his behavior.  They now leave.

The Queen is furious with Gerbany when she gets back from Canada.  He tells her:  "I am sorry, but there were too many rumors."  Gerbany hands over the report of the investigation into the behavior of Van 't Sant.  At night she reads it while in bed. 

The Queen comes to breakfast with the report.  Van 't Sant says he will resign because he does not wish to cause her problems.  The Queen will not have him resign. 

Gerbany now tells the Queen straight out that it is the belief of all the ministers that after the war she wants to rule as an absolute monarch.  He goes on to say that it his job to make sure the government presents a united front to the world.  Wilhelmina says:  "There is no problem so long as you take my side."

The Queen is going to make Bernhard the head of the Dutch Resistance.  Bernhard warns her:  "If Mr. van 't Sant returns to the Netherlands, he will be executed."  The Dutch Resistance sees the man as a traitor.  And this hurts the Queen's image among the people if she keeps van 't Sant with her. 

June 6, 1944.  News comes over the radio via Gen. Eisenhower that the Allies have landed their forces at Normandy, France.  The Queen is so thrilled that she almost starts crying.  Bernhard is returning to the Netherlands.  Wilhelmina sees him off.  On her way home in the car, she tells van 't Sant that he cannot return to the Netherlands when she does.  She says:  "You are not a reformed man." 

Wilhelmina speaks to her ancestors.  She says soon the Netherlands will be free.  When she returns, she will have completed "the divine task" that has "always" been her goal from the start.  "And I will have equaled my ancestors in greatness."  Juliana and her now three children come over and greet mother/grandmother.  Wilhelmina is so happy to see them. 

Van 't Sant stands by the water's edge of the river and looks as though he is going to jump in and drown himself. 

Wilhelmina tries to recruit a Mr. Beel to be her new cabinet minister.  She says she is talking about making a clean sweep of the government.  He says her ideas are appealing to him. 

The war is over and now the Queen can return to the Netherlands.  She stands on the bow of a British ship looking towards the Netherlands. 

 

Chapter 4.

Wilhelmina is riding in a car through Belgium near the border with the Netherlands.  She has the car stopped.  She walks over to a white line and then steps over it into the Netherlands.  She is welcomed back to the Netherlands. 

Van 't Sant waits for the arrival of his wife.  When she gets off the train he is very happy to see her.  He kisses and hugs her.

Wilhelmina covers all the cities on her travel itinerary for the day.  She will be spending the night in Breda, army headquarters.  She asks the man in the passenger side, front seat, Mr. Doenselaar, if he would be her personal secretary.  He tells her he has a job waiting for him in the pharmaceutical industry.  She urges him to reconsider because the job is a lot more important than making pills. 

Waiting at Breda is her daughter and son-in-law.  She tells them that the Netherlands looks much worse than she imagined from England. Wilhelmina says that everything is in ruins and people are just so exhausted.  Bernhard goes out of the room and then comes back with the news that the Germans have capitulated and a truce has been declared.  The Queen says they will go immediately to The Hague, but Bernhard says the Germans have to leave the area first and then they have to arrest those Dutch persons who cooperated with the Nazis. 

And now Wilhelmina gets really good news.  Doenselaar tells her that it looks like the whole town has turned out to see the Queen and Crown Princess Juliana.  The two women come out of the building to the cheers of the large crowd. 

Van 't Sant's wife tells him that the Queen dropped him like a ton of bricks.  She adds that he and the Queen were friends only as long as the Queen needed him. 

Doenselaar says he will take the post of the Queen's secretary.  Wilhelmina is pleased.  She now sees Mr. Beel.  He has made a list for her of the names of the people possibly suited to form a new cabinet.  After that she meets with a number of leaders in the Dutch Resistance during the war.  She shakes each person's hand.  Among the Resistance people is a woman named Mrs. Schimmelpenninck that worked for the Queen and then left when she heard the Queen was leaving the country for England.  The Queen shakes her hand, but does not look her in the eyes.  Doenselaar tells her that Mrs. Lise Schimmelpenninck was arrested by the Gestapo for forging passports.  So Wilhelmina goes back to her and asks her to come visit for tea tomorrow.

The two women have tea and cookies.  The Queen invites her back to work for her.  Mrs. Schimmelpenninck says she will definitely think about it. 

The Queen speaks to Mr. Drees and quizzes him to see if she could use him for her plans.  She tells him that he will form a cabinet together with Mr. Schermerhorn and she advises him to make Mr. Beel the Home Secretary.  He must chose people from the Dutch Resistance.  She says "Restoration and Reform" will be the motto of "our" new cabinet.  When Mr. Drees leaves, Doenselaar rushes in to say that the Queen can go home now!  The Allied authorities have declared the north section of the Netherlands to be safe. 

Wilhelmina returns home.  The first order of the day is that she will meet with the city council.  But she doesn't want to meet with them.  She says they didn't actively resist the Germans, so what does she want with them?  Lise tells her that if every person who did nothing to resist had to be punished, then at the least one would have to punish three-quarters of the population.  Wilhelmina decides to see the council, but she also decides to insult them by saying things like what concentration camp or prison were you in? 

Wilhelmina and Lise go visit the Hall of the Oranges where the paintings of her famous relatives hang.  She still has her unconstitutional visions of greatness for herself and her monarchy.  When she comes out of the hall, she tells Lise that she does not want to go back to Noordeinde Palace, because she refuses to live in luxury.  She says she wants to live like her people, but she lives like one of the wealthy people.  

General Winkelman would like a word with the Queen.  She tells Doenselaar that she doesn't want to see him.  She is going to swear in her cabinet now.  She also wants to commemorate the sacrifices of those who died fighting the Nazis.  She lays a wreath in their commemoration. 

Mr. Beel visits the Queen.  He tells her:  "The people do not want you to live like this."  So she moves back to Noordeinde Palace. 

Van 't Sant shows his wife the newspaper article about the move back.  She says:  "Everything is back to normal."  Her husband still broods about the ruin of his reputation, so his wife tells him to go back to the Netherlands and tell the truth. 

The election results are in.  Seven parties will be seated in the House.  Politics goes on without the Queen.  She is very disappointed because all she can think of is a united people.  She asks:  "How can this be?"  Because the nation isn't united, she says:  "The ideals of the resistance are lost."  Lise tries to bring her down to reality by saying very few people were actively involved in the resistance, but the Queen remains extremely furious at the turn of events.

Van 't Sant is back in the Netherlands.  He thanks Mr. Gerbrandy for coming to see him.  Gerbrandy confirms for van 't Sant that the resistance people think he is a traitor.  In general, people just don't trust the former personal secretary to the Queen.  Van 't Sant now wants to tell the full story of what happened.  He says he was just protecting the prince consort and the Queen from vicious scandal.  Gerbrandy tells van 't Sant that he should just accept that he is out of power  and go on with his life.  He says that the people don't want to hear about a scandal involving the prince consort.  And the Queen would be absolutely livid if van 't Sant told about the scandal. 

Now the Queen has lost all of her energy.  She says she is too tired or she asks what do they want from her?  She writes her complaints down in an address to the cabinet, but she basically declares that the new politics are characterized by ". . . a lack of principles", " . . . opportunism and selfishness".  Her remarks are also anti-democratic.  This will not make her popular. 

Her letter is read to the cabinet.  The reactions are that the Queen "overreacts" and is not realistic.

The Queen is depressed now because of the cabinet's opposition to her.  She says:  "It's the same old song."  It's very clear that this is not what she expected when she thought about Dutch politics while in England.  It's as if she has given up on Dutch politics.  She cries about it.

The Queen calls van 't Sant on the telephone, tells him she is going to abdicate and hangs up the phone. 

She goes back to the Hall of the Oranges.  She admits to herself and her ancestors that she has not been able to be their equals. 

She writes her farewell speech, but cabinet members want her to change parts of it.  The Queen gets exasperated and says she won't speak at all to the people.  She asks Doenselaar to remain as her personal secretary after her abdication, but he says he has already made other plans. 

The Queen reads her abdication speech to the people.  With her are her immediate family, her daughter, her son-in-law and the three grand-children, all girls.  She introduces her daughter as the new Queen and leads the audience in three hurrahs.  Now she leaves.  The crowd goes wild for the new Queen and her family. 

The former queen and Lise ride in the back seat of the car.  Wilhelmina asks who's that man in the front passenger seat?  He's her head of security.  She tells the driver to ask the man to get out of the car.  She is no longer queen and he does not belong here.  The car is stopped and the security man gets out and watches as the car drives away. 

Van 't Sant loses his wife to death.  He is the only one at the funeral, perhaps by his or his wife's own request? 

Mr. Booy is now the new personal secretary to the ex-queen.  Juliana comes in and tells her mother that she just signed a decree to present mother with the Military Order of William for her great efforts during the war.  Her daughter gives the speech honoring her and says she "gave other people confidence and gave them the will to persevere in times of great need."  She "came to be known among her people as the Mother of our Nation."  Wilhelmina takes the oath to belong to the order.   

Van 't Sant puts new flowers on his wife's grave. 

Juliana tells her mother that the Netherlands will cease to be a colonial power.  They are granting the wish of the peoples living under colonialism to be free.  Will mother attend the ceremony?  "No.  And don't insist."  She adds that her abdication was the equivalent of her dying, according to the constitution. 

Wilhelmina paints and rides her three dogs around in a horse drawn cart.  And she calls van 't Sant back to her service.  Wilhelmina says it's no longer a problem because they are now both forgotten people.  Van 't Sant asks the Queen to lift his oath of secrecy and let him tell what really happened before and during the war.  He tells her that what he did was done for her.  He says:  "You asked me to take care of things.  I had to find money without bothering you.  You had enough on your plate."  She responds that this is nonsense, that he should have asked her for the money.  He goes on to say his reputation has been tarnished and he can't live with it anymore.  But the ex-queen won't lift the oath from off van 't Sant's shoulders.  He leaves without a goodbye. 

Van 't Sant walks outside and away from the house.  Mr. Booy chases after him and asks him to follow him back into the house.  She has relented.  She only asks that he mention one of her husband's illegitimate children.  Van 't Sant kisses her hand.  Her eyes water up. 

She goes to the Hall of the Oranges.  But this time she asks her ancestors:  "Have I been a worthy Queen?"

 

 

Good film.  The story is a tragedy.  A noble person, but with terrible flaws that would come to haunt and, to some extent, spoil her last years.  One has to wonder if she suffered from a delusional personality disorder.  Here she lives in a solid democratic country and yet she dreams of running the show.  She is not content to be the representative of her nation, but wants to make the most important of political decisions.  Her delusions made her an anti-democratic thinker and, therefore, a person beyond the pale.  Her ideas were just totally out of touch with the reality of a democratic country.  One could say that her ideas were based on delusions.  In refuge in England she plotted a monarchial take-over of the Dutch democracy.  This, of course, was unacceptable.  Her dreams dashed, she went into a form of depression that would not have happened without her delusions.

Her delusions and her conviction that she was totally right on everything, often made her sharp-tongue even more devastating to others and to herself.  How many relationships did she destroy or put on hold because of her delusions?  Quite a few. 

She ruined her husband's life, because unlike Queen Victoria with Albert, she would not let her husband play a meaningful role in government.  Idle hands are the devil's playground.  He started another family.  And the Queen never put any of the blame on herself.  Never.  In her delusions of glory, she deemed her husband not important compared to the many important tasks she had to fulfill or perform.  It was cruelty by delusion.  This, of course, hurt her very, very much.  But that's the nature of a personality disorder.  One keeps repeating the pattern even though that very pattern has terrible effects on the person having the disorder and others around him or her. 

She is rightfully honored for her moral and psychological support of the Dutch people in the years of occupation by the Nazis.  But, of course, the public never really knew the depth of her anti-democratic thinking.  But now we have a fuller understanding of Wilhelmina, the Queen of the Netherlands, thanks to this film. 

I enjoyed all of it even though it pained me to see her self-destruct.  Was she a worthy Queen?  She was a good person, but with serious flaws that lessened her worth because she was anti-democratic. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)