Maria Louise? Yes, Maria Louise, still quite well-known, especially in the Province of Friesland, The Netherlands. This Princess of Orange-Nassau, a born Princess von Hessen-Kassel, died on 9 April 1765 in Leeuwarden, the capital of the Province of Friesland. She is even better known under her nickname “Marijke Meu” (Aunt Mary). Her 250th death anniversary is extensively celebrated this year. The Maria Louise Year 2015 officially opens on the date of her death.
But why is she of great importance? Not only for Friesland, but also for the present Royal House of the Netherlands? Born on 7 February 1688 as daughter of Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel and his wife Princess Maria Amalia of Courland, and in 1709 she married the young Stadtholder of the Provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, Johan Willem Friso of Orange-Nassau. The next year they had a little daughter, Amalia. The next year, seven months pregnant, Maria Louise lost her husband when he drowned in the Hollands Diep. Their son Willem IV never would meet his father. If Maria Louise hadn’t given birth to a son, it would have been the end of this branche of the House of Orange-Nassau. Maria Louise became the regent for her son until he came of age in 1731. She shows herself to be a strong woman, who is well respected and popular. Her son Willem IV dies in 1751, leaving a three-year-old son, Willem V. His mother Princess Anna of Hanover became the regent, but when she died in 1759, it was again Maria Louise who takes over that position until her death in 1765. She became the ancestor of many kings, queens and emperors in Europe.
A list of the most important and probably most interesting events for royalty-watchers:
21 March-10 May: exhibition “Maria Louise, Vorstin in Friesland” (Maria Louise, Princess in Friesland), Fries Museum, Leeuwarden.
21 March-5 June: Exhibition “Thuis bij Marijke Meu” (At Home with Marijke Meu), Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden.
4-5 April – Broadcast of the Documentary “Met de ogen van Vandaag” (With the Eyes of Today) about Marijke Meu, NPO2 and Omrop Fryslân.
9 April – Opening of the Maria Louise year, Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, Leeuwarden (for invitees only).
9 April – Start of the “Vorstelijke Muurschildering (Princely Wallpainting), Oldehoofsterkerkhof, Leeuwarden.
9 April 2015-3 January 2016 – Exhibition “Johan Hermann Knoop, de hovenier van Maria Louise” (Johan Hermann Knoop, the gardener of Maria Louise), Historisch Centrum, Leeuwarden.
10 April – Symposium Marijke Meu, Fryske Akademy.
19 April 2015-30 March 2016 – Exhibition “Kant en mode uit de tijd van Maria Louise” (Lace and Fashion in the Times of Maria Louise), Museum Pakhuis Koophandel, Leeuwarden.
24 April – Marijke Meu Concert, Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, Leeuwarden.
14 May – Princess Day, Prinsentuin, Leeuwarden.
20 May – Nassau Lecture by Hanno Brand, HCL, Leeuwarden.
27 May – Publication of the historical magazine “Fryslân Magazine” about Maria Louise.
20 June – Trotting-race at the Wilhelminaplein, Leeuwarden.
20 June – Revealing of the “Vorstelijke Muurschildering” (Princely Wallpainting), Oldehoofsterkerkhof, Leeuwarden.
27 June, 4 July, 1, 8 & 15 August – Maria Louise Walks, Leeuwarden.
As of 4 July – The Secret of Marijke Meu, Walks, Leeuwarden.
11 October – Lecture by Bearn Bilker about Maria Louise and religion, Nij Brongergea Tsjerke, De Knipe.
11 November – Lecture by Bearn Bilker about Anna Charlotte Amalia, Historisch Centrum, Leeuwarden.
The VVV Leeuwarden (Tourist Information) also offers Nassau arrangements.