Margriet Francisca, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau and Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld, was born at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, Canada, on 19 January 1943, the third daughter of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. The Princess has three sisters, Princess Beatrix (b. 1938), Princess Irene (b. 1939) and Princess Christina (1947-2019).
Princess Margriet was baptised in St Andrew's Church, Ottawa, on 29 June 1943. Her godparents included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Dutch Merchant Navy, in honour of the role played by the latter during the Second World War.
It was not until 2 August 1945, when the Netherlands had been liberated, that Princess Margriet, accompanied by her parents and sisters, first set foot on Dutch soil. The family took up residence in Soestdijk Palace in Baarn.
Princess Margriet received her primary education at De Werkplaats school in Bilthoven and at the Nieuwe Baarnse School in Baarn. She received her secondary education at the Baarns Lyceum, where she passed her school leaving examinations in 1961.
She spent the next year studying French literature, history and art history at the University of Montpellier in France. On her return to the Netherlands she enrolled at Leiden University, where she studied elementary jurisprudence, constitutional law, Roman law and some social science subjects. After this, she trained as a nursing auxiliary 1st class with the Netherlands Red Cross (in Dutch) at De Lichtenberg hospital in Amersfoort.
Marriage and family
While studying at Leiden University, Princess Margriet met her future husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven. Their engagement was announced on 10 March 1965. The civil marriage ceremony was conducted by the Mayor of The Hague, Hans van Kolfschoten, in the then town hall in Javastraat on 10 January 1967. The marriage was blessed in the Grote of St Jacobskerk in The Hague by Professor Hendrikus Berkhof.
The Princess and her husband took up residence in the east wing of Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. In 1975 they moved to their present home, Het Loo House, which they had had built near the Palace.
Princess Margriet and Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven have four sons: Prince Maurits (b. 1968), Prince Bernhard (b. 1969), Prince Pieter-Christiaan (b. 1972) and Prince Floris (b. 1975).
The couple also have eleven grandchildren:
- the children of Prince Maurits and Princess Marilène: Anna (b. 2001), Lucas (b. 2002) and Felicia (b. 2005)
- the children of Prince Bernhard and Princess Annette: Isabella (b. 2002), Samuel (b. 2004) and Benjamin (b. 2008)
- the children of Prince Pieter-Christiaan and Princess Anita: Emma (b. 2006) and Pieter (b. 2008)
- and the children of Prince Floris and Princess Aimée: Magali (b. 2007), Eliane (b. 2009) and Willem Jan (b. 2013)
Princess Margriet began her voluntary work for the Netherlands Red Cross (in Dutch) in 1966, serving as a nursing auxiliary 1st class. From 1987 to 2011, the year in which her final term of office ended, she was vice-president of the organisation. In 2011, in recognition of her services, the Netherlands Red Cross set up the Princess Margriet Fund, which works to help populations at risk to prepare better for natural disasters. To mark the Princess’ 75th birthday in 2018, the Red Cross and the University of Twente established a chair in her name. The Princess Margriet Research Chair, part of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) at the University of Twente, focuses its research activities on building resilience against natural disasters and climate change. Professor Marc van den Homberg was appointed to the chair in 2023.
Since 1967 Princess Margriet has been actively involved in the work of the International Red Cross. From December 1995 to December 2003 she chaired the highest international body of the Red Cross, the Standing Commission. From 2005 to the end of 2013, Princess Margriet was a member of the governing board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She took part in many international conferences, often as head of the Dutch delegation, and in meetings for board members and delegates.
Areas of interest: culture
From 1984 to 2007 Princess Margriet was President of the European Cultural Foundation. When she retired from this appointment, the ECF set up the Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Diversity in acknowledgement of her work. The award honours thinkers, artists and activists whose work engages the European public and makes them think about the role culture and cultural diversity play in society. Princess Laurentien succeeded Princess Margriet as President of the ECF in 2007.
Honorary chair of the Netherlands Red Cross
- Patron of SOS Children’s Villages
- Patron of Introdans Modern Ballet Company, Arnhem
- Patron of the National Union of Volunteers
- Patron of Vision 2020 Netherlands
- Patron of the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation
- Patron of the Association of Summer Camps for Young Cancer Patients
- Patron of the Equestrian Federation for the Disabled
- Patron of the Friends of De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation Centre
- Patron of the National Rehabilitation Fund
- Patron of Zeemanshoop Royal College
- Patron of the Society of Friends of the Band of the Royal Marines
- Patron of Noorder Haaks Nautical Technical Centre
- Patron of the Netherland-America Foundation (New York)
- Patron of the Netherlands-American Amity Trust (Washington)
- Patron of Natura Artis Magistra (Artis Zoo), Amsterdam
- Patron of Stichting Apenheul (Apenheul Primate Park), Apeldoorn
- Honorary chair of the Netherlands Red Cross
- Honorary chair of the Advisory Committee of Invictus Games The Hague 2020
- Honorary chair of the advisory council for the joint MSc programme in Global Health (Maastricht University and McMaster University)
- Honorary chair of the De Lijn Society
- Member of the Honorary Board of the International Paralympic Committee
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Utrecht, Nijmegen and Zwolle
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Focal Epilepsies of Childhood Foundation
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Maaszicht Rotterdam Foundation, which provides care and support for young adults
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Prinses Christina Concours
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Esther Vergeer Foundation