Dutch Royals and Scouting
In 1914 the husband of Queen Wilhelmina, H.R.H Prince Hendrik, became in contact with scouting. The Prince was chairman of the Red Cross in the Netherlands at the beginning of the first world war. Belgium refuses entering the Netherlands were accommodated in Scout houses and taken care of by scouts. Therefore he saw what the movement ment to the youth and recognized the value of scouting. He was surprised that there were two national movements. The Nederlandsche Padvindersorganisatie (Dutch Boy Scouts) and the Dutch Scout Association. The Prince therefore set up a royal commission to investigate how the ideal aim of Baden-Powell to have one association per country was to be possible. As a result de two merged in the Vereniging De Nederlandse Padvinders (NPV). (Dutch Boy Scout Association).
The Prince became patron of the association. In 1920 The Prince appointed Jean Jacques Rambonnet as chairman and Chief Scout of the Netherlands. He visited many local divisions and wore a scout uniform.
The prince designed the national banner for the NPV and presented it in Den Bilt. On May 20, 1918, he was installed as a Boy Scout.
After the dead of Prince Hendrik in 1934, H.M. Queen Wilhelmina took over the task of her husband. She became patron of the NPV and together with Lord Robert Baden-Powell she officially opened the 5th World Scout Jamboree in 1937. In the presents of Olave Baden-Powell and Chief Scout J.J. Rambonnet. During the opening she wore the hat plume of Prince Hendrik on her hat.
After 5th World Scout Jamboree the the NPV split up again in to the Dutch Boy Scout Association and the Catholic Scouts. The Queen became patron of the umbrella organization Nationale Padvindersraad (National Scout Council) until her abdication as Queen in 1948.
As a little girl the then Princes Juliana visited official scouts events with her parents. By herself she visited many Girl Scout gatherings. In 1939 at the 20th anniversary of the Girl Scouts Association, she becomes Parton of the Girl movement. In 1940 she appeared in uniform for the first time and in 1948 she took over from her mother as Queen and patron of the National Scout Association. She din’t want to say goodbye to Scouting and stayed involved for a long time. The Girl Scouts gave her the name “MoVaVeDo” Moeder Van Vele Dochters (Mother Of Many Daughters). Queen Juliana receives the highest Girl Scout Award "Zilver Vis" in 1966.
At the Jamboree in 1937 Prince Bernard joined his mother-in-law. Queen Wilhelmina in a second visit to the camp. He meets the Swedish Prince Gustaaf Adolf, who makes him enthusiastic for scouting. There he was asked by Baden-Powell to follow up the 73 year old J.J. Rambonnet as chairman of the Dutch Scouts Association. He toke on the function of Royal Commissioner. just after the jamboree the national unity in The Netherlands spilt up again. The Catholic Boy Scouts and Catholic Girl Scout found themself not represented in the national council had separated. The WOSM din't accept that and the Catholic Scouts officially weren't aloud to call themself Scouts anymore. intervention by the prince prevented that by joining the divisions in to one council again.
During the second world war he sheared contact with dutch refugee children in England. They founded the temporary Dutch scouts Association together with the British scouts. After the war he returns to the Netherlands and develops a special interest for the Air Scouts who held a big demonstration in the palace gardens at the farewell of their royal commissioner in 1986. He is rewarded the highest Scouts Award the "Zilveren Vlaamse Gaai" at his 25th anniversary.
The Princesses (daughters of H.M. Queen Juliana and H.R.H. Prince Bernard), were members of Girl Scouts their-self. In the garden of the Soestdijk Palace a totem six was founded. A chicken coop was rebuild as clubhouse. Princes Beatrix was installed in 1946 her sister Margriet in 1951 followed by their younger sister Christina in 1955. Some classmates of the princesses were asked to join. Later the oldest sisters became Water Scouts. For the princesses this was a great way to camp and go on adventures with their peers. After the sixed stoped, the girls joined the "Merhula group" that was also on the premises of the palace. When old enough the princesses go to the clubhouse (as real “Dutchy’s”) by bicycle. Queen Juliana visits the group often also after her daughters left the group. Just to see how “her girls” are doing. (A real mother of many daughters)
(The "Merhula group" still exists and in 2021 fire destroys the clubhouse on the Soestdijk Estate.)
After the four associations, open/catholic, boys/girls merged to Scouting Nederland, the royal connection remained intact. His Royal Highness Prince Claus, husband of Queen Beatrix, became patron of Scouting Nederland in 1981. He never wore a uniform but visited many national, regional and local events with great interest and dedication.
After the dead of her father-in-law in 2002, the announcement was made that H.R.H Princess Máxima wil take on the patron duty’s of Scouting Nederland. She stared in 2005 and is very active. Princess Máxima married Prince Willem-Alexander on Februari 2th, 2002. When her husband became King in 2013 she became queen-consort of the Netherlands.