Please give another warm welcome to our own Kamerheer Triple-A for providing us this glimpse into Dutch history!
Last week, the international press and other media were allowed to visit the completely renovated Royal Dutch Palace, Huis ten Bosch (House in the Woods) in The Hague. This is the palace where the Dutch King lives with his family. After former Queen Beatrix abdicated and moved to her personally owned Castle Drakensteyn, Huis ten Bosch was extensively renovated with costs of more than € 63 million.
The history of Huis ten Bosch Palace can be divided into six periods.
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Summer residence and memorial (1645-1652)
Huis ten Bosch Palace began its life as the Sael van Oranje (Hall of Orange), a summer residence for stadholder Frederik Hendrik and his wife, Amalia van Solms. It was Princess Amalia herself who was the driving force behind its construction.
On 2 September 1645, the cornerstone was laid by Elizabeth, the former Queen of Bohemia. The palace was designed by Pieter Post, an architect who had also had a hand in the Mauritshuis, the assembly hall of the States of Holland (now the assembly hall of the Senate) and the Oude Hof (now Noordeinde Palace).
When Frederik Hendrik died in 1647, his widow converted Huis ten Bosch from a summer residence to a memorial to her late husband. Under the supervision of the painter and architect Jacob van Campen, the central chamber – known as the Oranjezaal- was dedicated to the Prince’s life and work. The largest and most striking painting in the room, a 1652 work by Jacob Jordaens, depicts Frederik Hendrik triumphant.
During this period, the palace had four different owners. The last of these, Prince William IV, had the palace thoroughly restored.
Albertine Agnes (1675)
When Princess Amalia died in 1675, the palace became the property of her daughters. It was used by Albertine Agnes, the wife of Willem Frederik of Nassau, stadholder of Friesland, the only one of Amalia’s daughters living in the Netherlands.
Prince William III (1686)
In 1686, Albertine Agnes sold the usufruct of the palace to Frederik Hendrik’s grandson, Prince William III, who was in need of a summer residence near the seat of government in The Hague. He made some changes to the furnishings and the gardens.
Prince William IV (1732)
On the death of William III without issue in 1702, Huis ten Bosch passed to the King of Prussia, a grandson of Frederik Hendrik’s. However in 1732, he returned it to the House of Orange-Nassau, in the person of Prince William IV, who undertook large-scale renovations. Two wings were added to the building, under the supervision of the architect Daniel Marot. Thus enlarged, the Palace was frequently the residence of the last two stadholders, William IV and William V.
French occupation (1795-1813)
Under French rule, the palace became state property. King Louis Bonaparte also altered the interior of the palace, thereby bringing the Empire style to the Netherlands.
When the French invaded in 1795, all the stadholder’s residences were seized as the spoils of war. The French made a gift of Huis ten Bosch to “the Batavian people”. Most of the furniture and works of art were sold and the palace became state property, which it remains to this day.
King Louis Bonaparte
Following a coup d’état in 1798, some members of the National Assembly were interned in the palace. The east wing was rented out. The building then served as a museum until 1805, when Rutger-Jan Schimmelpennick, appointed grand pensionary by Napoleon, moved in. Fifteen months later, Napoleon’s brother Louis Bonaparte, who had been elevated to the throne of Holland, took up residence there. In 1807, Louis moved to Utrecht, where he lived until he could take possession of Amsterdam town hall on the Dam, which had been refurbished as a palace. Although Louis occupied it for only a short time, he left his mark on both the interior and exterior of Huis ten Bosch. The expansions and renovations he initiated introduced the Empire style into the Netherlands, and many pieces of Empire furniture are still in use in the palace.
Royal summer residence (1815-1940)
After Willem I was proclaimed King of the Netherlands in 1815, members of the royal family often lived in Huis ten Bosch, among them King Willem I himself and his wife, Queen Wilhelmina. Later, it became the summer home of Queen Sophie, the first wife of Willem III. During the First World War, Queen Wilhelmina exchanged her summer residence at Het Loo near Apeldoorn for Huis ten Bosch. There she remained until she, Princess Juliana and the Juliana’s children had to flee to England after the German invasion in May 1940.
Second World War (1940-1945)
Huis ten Bosch suffered serious damage during the Second World War. The comptroller succeeded in foiling plans by the German occupying forces to demolish the palace to make way for tank traps.
At the end of the war the palace was uninhabitable. Though the art treasures had been removed and taken to a safe place, the walls, ceilings and floors had been damaged by bullets, shells and shrapnel.
Royal residence (1950 onward)
Between 1950 and 1981 there were two rounds of restorations. On 10 August 1981, Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus and their children took up residence in Huis ten Bosch.
Since January 2019, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and their three daughters have lived at Huis ten Bosch Palace.
Thanks again to Triple-A for his contributions!
Here’s a video for a bit more information–enjoy!
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