Het Loo at Christmas – Deck the Halls

Exhibitions Travel

No, it is not only Christmas decoration on display during the weeks around Christmas and the New Year at Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands – the palace that has just closed its doors until 2021. Every year there are also a few festively laid tables. And this year the palace really pulled out all the stops. Eleven fully laid tables from the 17th to the 21st century, some liveries and soup tureens showed the highlights of more than 30 years of Royal Christmas tables, with the help of the Royal Collections of the Netherlands.

It all looks quite OK on pictures, but of course you have to walk around in the palace to really get the Christmas and dinner feeling. But you might not get the opportunity anymore until late 2021. Myself I almost can’t wait.

On the left photo a part of the table in the first hall of the museum is shown. I especially loved the silver birds on the table. In one of the siderooms these liveries were shown. On the right is a 19th century table with silver and pineapples from the days of King Willem III and his first wife Queen Sophie. The silver holders were a wedding present in 1839 from the city of The Hague.

A 17th century table had to be filled with lots of food. All dishes – usually three courses – were placed on the table at once. Queen Mary II Stuart had her own jam cellar at Het Loo, so of course they were to be found at the table. The soup tureens in the middle photo are from the 19th century. And what to think of the plateau at the third picture above? It was actually given by King Willem III of the Netherlands to his daughter Princess Wilhelmina for her 8th birthday in 1888. The  porcelain dinner service was a wedding gift in 1901 from German Emperor Wilhelm II.

This first porcelain service – full of “W” – was ordered in what is now Belgium by King Willem I and Queen Wilhelmina as soon as they became King and Queen in 1815. They also ordered a plateau in Paris. You might recognise the middle table as I have already posted something similar before. In the Audience Hall of Het Loo they had set up the table for the 50th birthday dinner of King Willem-Alexander on 28 April 2017 in Amsterdam. The picture on the right shows part of the Russian porcelain dinner service of Queen Anna Pavlovna, the wife of King Willem II.

As off the 18th century you really needed a dessert service in porcelain, as you can see on the left photo. I can already tell you unfortunately the desserts on this table are not real. This Meissen porcelain service is dated around 1900. On the right is a Jugendstil service from Queen Wilhelmina, who received it on her birthday in 1902 from her mother Queen Emma. The candlestick was a wedding present in 1901.

Two more tables could be found in the right wing this time. Unfortunately it seems the table of Princess Margriet on the left won’t be there anymore in the future. There was a table full of the newest “Blossom Panache” service in this wing too. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima ordered it as the old dinner service for state banquets and royal dinners was damaged and no longer complete. The exhibition here was bigger than in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam earlier this year. Unfortunately there was no way to get close to the table. But that is of course understandable. You wouldn’t want any visitor breaking something.

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