In the weekend of 4 and 5 November the yearly Royal Gatherings in The Hague, organized by the European Royal History Journal and Booksellers Van Hoogstraten, is being held again. Most tourists visiting the Netherlands go straight to Amsterdam. The Hague is not really on the list of many people. But for us royalty watchers there is always a lot to do. As I am already arriving on Friday I thought it would be handy to see if there is anything good in town.
Make sure, that if you decide to visit The Hague or another place in the country, you check the royal calendar. You never know if something is going on. If you’re lucky on Wednesday morning the King receives the new ambassadors. An event however that is usually only announced the previous day. Not that you will see King Willem-Alexander, but it might already be nice to watch as the ambassadors arrive at the Noordeinde Palace with lots of ceremony in carriages. No changing of the guard however at the Noordeinde Palace.
If you like to walk around download “A Royal Walk” on the website of This is The Hague. It leads you to the main royal spots in the city centre. Although I know most of the spots on the map there are several ones that I don’t know yet. I left out the non royal spots and added a few.
- 1) The Palace at the Lange Voorhout now Escher in the Palace. A former palace that is now the Escher Museum. Of course lots of Escher, but the palace is still there. If you leave the museum, just quickly turn left for the monument dedicated to Duke Carl Bernhard von Sachsen-Weimar (1792-1862), as I don’t think it is listed on their map. And then just continue the way it is shown on the map of the Royal Walk.
- 2) The Hotel des Indes was built in 1858 for W.T.A.M. baron van Brienen van de Groote Lindt (1814-1863), who was a personal adviser to King Willem III of the Netherlands. It was sold by his son and was turned into a hotel, that in 1881 was opened by Prince Frederik of the Netherlands. Among the guests of the hotel were many celebrities and royals. The last ones in April 2017 were King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.
- 4) In 1734 the House Huguetan was built, a town palace for the rich family Huguetan. The house was designed by the famous architect Daniel Marot in Louis XIV-style. King Willem I lived here temporarily after his arrival late 1813, in the two following years also by King Willem II and his wife Anna Pavlovna. From 1819 to 1982 it was the Royal Library, from 1988 to 2016 the Supreme Court of the Netherlands had its seat here. From 2020 it will temporarily be the seat of the Senate and part of the Council of State. At the moment it seems it is in use as a museum.
- 5) The Kloosterkerk (Cloister Church) is one of churches in The Hague with a royal background. Princess Beatrix on Sunday regularly attends services here, and in October 2007 Princess Ariane of the Netherlands was christened in this church. In 1625 Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange married Amalia zu Solms-Braunfels at the church. Originally the church was a monastery, the money to buy the land was a gift from Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, who among others ruled the county of Holland at the time (late 14th century). His wife Margaret of Cleves was actually buried in the church.
- 6) The Kneuterdijk Palace was built in 1716 in the Louis XIV-style, again by Daniel Marot, for Count Johan Hendrik van Wassenaer-Obdam. King Willem I in 1816 bought it for his son, the later King Willem II, and his new wife. Nowadays the building is the home of the Council of State.
- 7/8) Palace Noordeinde, the working palace of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. There was a summer opening in July/August 2016 and July/August 2017, but tickets were sold out pretty quickly. The palace might open its doors again in the coming years. On the square you find the equestrian statue of Prince William I of Orange, and also a statue for Queen Wilhelmina.
- 9) The Gothische Zaal (Gothic Hall) was built mid 19th century for the art collection of King Willem II. It now is part of the Council of State. The garden is open to the public. The entrance is somewhat hidden.
- Return to the Noordeinde to continue your walk and don’t forget to visit the Booksellers Van Hoogstraten, the place to be when you’re looking for (international) royal books.
- 10) The Salon van Fagel Restaurant and B&B is rather new, but situated in an historic building. The Fagel House was built in 1701 by Daniel Marot. King Willem III bought it in 1859, and it remained in royal possession for 30 years.
- 11) Also the Royal Stables were open in July/August 2016 and July/August 2017 for several weeks. Tickets were not sold as quick as for the Noordeinde palace. But if you get the chance, they’re certainly worth a visit.
- 12) The gardens of Palace Noordeinde are always a nice place to walk around.
- 14) The Grote of St.-Jacobskerk (Great, or St. James Church) was several times used as marriage of christening church by the Dutch royal family. Also King Willem-Alexander and his eldest daughter Catharina-Amalia, The Princess of Orange, were christened here.
- 15) The Gallery Prince Willem V was the first public museum in the Netherlands. Already in 1774 Willem had this place built for his art collection. Still the walls are full of 18th century art from the collection of the Mauritshuis.
- 17) Known from Prinsjesdag, the opening of Parliament in the Netherlands, is of course the Inner Court with its Hall of Knights. It is nowadays the seat of the Dutch government. The Inner Court will undergo massive restoration work in the coming years.
- 18) The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis had some royal visitors in the past year including Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. The collection of paintings is world-famous and located at a 17th-century palace. It was built for Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen by the architects Jacob van Kampen and Pieter Post. The building burnt down in 1704 and was rebuilt between 1708 and 1718. Since 1822 it is a museum.
- 19) At the Plein you can find lots of places to eat and watch the people passing. In the middle is a statue of Prince William I of Orange.
- 20) The King’s Office (Kabinet van de Koning) is where the small government organisation houses which assists King Willem-Alexander in the performance of his constitutional duties. The house is only accessible during the Heritage Days in September. Here you might see Princess Beatrix (in the past also her mother Queen Juliana) waving when her son passes in the Golden Carriage on Prinsjesdag.
- 21) The Historical Museum of The Hague has a wonderful collection including Dutch royal memorabilia. I must admit I have never visited it, but intend to go next weekend.
- 22) The Hofvijver, or court pond, is an artificial lake and from the shore you have a nice view on the buildings of the Inner Court and the Mauritshuis.
The present exhibition at 21) the Hague Historical Museum might be of some interest for royalty watchers. From 21 September 2017 to 28 January 2018 it shows the exhibition “African servants at the Hague Court”.
Another museum that might be worth a visit is the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. In the past years they had some rather interesting exhibitions and two more are opening on 4 November 2017.
- A Centenary Celebration of Steltman Jewellers tells the story of the Hague jewellery shop that opened 100 years ago in 1917. Some of the pieces on display have a royal past. The jeweller is the place where the royals buy their most precious jewelry, including engagement rings.
- Frans Hoogendoorn. A Hague Couturier doesn’t sound royal at first. But his designs have also been worn by royals including Princess Irene of the Netherlands. On loan are the ensemble she wore at the funeral of her mother, Queen Juliana, in 2004, and the bridal dress from 2005 of Princess Anita, as well as a favourite dress of Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme.