Dutch Royal Wedding, 55 Years On

55 years ago yesterday, Princess Beatrix married German diplomat Claus van Amsberg. Royal weddings are usually celebratory occasions but in post-war Europe, the Dutch heir-to-the-throne’s choice of husband was not completely welcomed. As a child, Claus had been required to join the Hitler Youth and conscripted into the German army at the very end of WWII; while he was never involved in active combat, his past involvement with the Nazi party was problematic.

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Princess Beatrix and Claus van Amsberg announce their engagement, June 28, 1965

The couple stood firm and leveraged support from Beatrix’s German father Prince Bernhard to gain Queen Juliana’s endorsement. They further prevailed in gaining parliamentary approval for their marriage, a step needed for Princess Beatrix to remain in the line of succession, despite a petition with over 65,000 signatures against the marriage.

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The couple give notice of their upcoming marriage at Baarn Town Hall, February 17, 1966

These circumstances paved a less than ideal path to the altar and the couple’s wedding day on March 10, 1966 saw groups simultaneously cheering and protesting the union (a smoke bomb detonated during the carriage procession). Thankfully, these stresses are not evident in the Beatrix and Claus’ beaming faces. Their day started with traveling by the House of Orange’s gold carriage to a civil ceremony at Amsterdam Town Hall presided by mayor, Gijsbert van Hall.

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A religious ceremony immediately followed in the Westerkerk, led by the Reverend Johannes Hendrik Sillevis Smitt.

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Princess Beatrix wore her wedding gown for both ceremonies. Collaboratively created by the bride and Dutch royal family couturier Carolien Berge-Farwick of Maison Linette in white silk and duchess satin, the gown’s fitted bodice featured a high, rounded neckline and three quarter length sleeves. Sparkling beadwork at the waist highlighted the gown’s split skirt, which revealed a beautifully embroidered column underskirt and flowed to a sixteen foot train. While the dress’ streamlined shape was certainly of its time, the spectacular embroidery elevated it to one befitting a future queen.

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This regal royal bridal look was further elevated by the voluminous silk tulle veil and statement Wurttemberg Pearl Tiara. Impressive tiaras can easily overwhelm even a royal bride but the unadorned neckline of the gown, the extensive embroidery on the skirt, and the classic 60s bouffant veil balanced the tiara, beautifully.

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Princess Beatrix was attended by six adult bridesmaids, including her younger sister Princess Christina, who wore Wedgewood blue silk crepe gowns. Lace jackets with three quarter length sleeves, gloves, and matching bandeau headpieces with large feather poufs completed their ensemble. Two wee bridesmaids wore white silk dresses with white floral wreaths in their hair.

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Queen Juliana topped a stunning petrol blue velvet coat and blue lace column gown with a turban made of mottled blue and white silk petals.

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Princess Irene wore a headpiece of large deep pink silk flowers. Princess Margriet wore a white veiled pillbox, the fur hat linking with the collar and cuffs on her blush silk gown and coat.


Guests from numerous European royal houses were in attendance:

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Despite the controversy of this marriage, Prince Claus became an accepted and much loved member of the Dutch royal family and by all accounts, the couple enjoyed a happy marriage and family with their three sons. When Prince Claus died in 2002, he was deeply grieved by all.

Which hats stand out to you most at this wedding?

Images from Getty as indicated; Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images

13 thoughts on “Dutch Royal Wedding, 55 Years On

  1. Beatrix wasn’t the first or last Dutch royal (and heir to the throne) to have a controversial marriage, but that’s what makes these stories more interesting. As the Nazis often confiscated bikes during their occupation of the Netherlands, one of the taunts thrown at Claus at the time was “Give me back my bike” (despite the seriousness of the past, this makes me laugh as basically only the Dutch could say such a thing!).

    As for the hats, I agree that Beatrix’s pre-wedding pillbox is a delight and also seems like a preview of what becomes her signature hat style. Her wedding ensemble feels quite timeless to me and proves whether it’s big hats or big tiaras and veils, Beatrix can wear them well!

    Juliana’s petrol blue is a wonderful color on her and the petaled turban hat suits her well. Irene’s red-violet floral headpiece and beautiful dress would not look out of place today (minus a slight change of hairstyle). Margriet’s very structured veil on this pillbox has always intrigued me with how they achieved that!

    Other highlights for me were Princess Marina’s light blue feathered hat, Princess Alexandra’s champagne leafy-layered hat, and Princess Benedikte’s pink patterned rounded pillbox. And while I don’t find the hat a standout, I do really like Queen Fabiola’s outfit color scheme.

  2. The two stand outs for me are Irene and Paola. They’re both stunning women and their outfits and hats are fantastic.

  3. Great post, HatQueen! I’ve been especially interested in this wedding since I picked up a copy of the Illustrated London News covering it at a flea market a few years ago. Unfortunately, it emphasized the controversy and the protests e.g. “Rose petals and smoke bombs for Beatrix” and “All told, it was not an auspicious beginning to the marriage of an heiress to the Dutch throne.” It also notes that the “British royalty was thinly represented,” although it seems like a major Kent contingent, with Princess Alexandra serving as one of the witnesses.

    So, it’s good to see your review of the fashions! Beatrix was lovely, in a very timeless (except for the bouffant) way. This was certainly the era of the turbans, wasn’t it? Wilhelmina’s blue is very regal. Irene’s pink headpiece is my favorite, but Margriet’s white veiled pillbox is quite chic. I agree with laemperatriz that Anne-Marie’s ensemble takes it a few ruffles too far.

  4. This was a really fun post to read today Hat Queen! Thank you!

    – I really like Princess Beatrix’s hat she wore when she gave notice of her upcoming marriage. The pillbox shape looked fantastic on her and I love the design on it.
    – Princess Beatrix’s bridal look is lovely. The dress is exquisite and the veil is lovely with that stunning tiara. Overall, the look is wonderful, and it’s so nice to see two people who are clearly so happy with one another.
    – I really like Princess Irene’s dress and headpiece. The color is sensational on her.
    – I did not recognize Princess Benedikte! It was fun to try to spot the Royals. Thank you to Morris in identifying the people in the group photo.
    – I love Princess Paola’s entire look. Such a simple and chic look.
    – Queen Fabiola looked fabulous in the video. Her outfit was striking and really stood out in a wonderful way.

  5. Lovely look back, thank you! I hadn’t noticed before seeing the formal bridal party with parents shot, that the bridesmaids’ gowns were different shades of blue/aqua/lilac – the petrol and navy of the two mothers toned beautifully.

  6. I really like Princess Alexandra’s Champagne colored headpiece. Lots of great looks here. Queen Anne-Marie’s outfit makes me giggle. I like the hat, but when paired with the same big ruffly texture, it makes me think a little bit like her head is popping out of a cake or a jack in the box.

  7. The unidentified man in the first photo in the middle row is prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma. The man who was identified as prince Carlos Hugo is in fact the Aga Khan. In the third photo in the back row, the unidentified womman and man are princess Simone and prince Aschwin of of Lippe-Biesterfeld (Beatrix’s paternal aunt and uncle).

  8. I’ve always loved Beatrix’s bridal look. The embroidery lifts it for me, it’s in a sort of baroque style swirl pattern, it’s beautiful. And that tiara is absolutely a fantastic match for the veil, it’s perfection.

    I’ve read, and you can just see here, that her bridesmaids are in three different shades of blue/green. They’re actually really elegant bridesmaid looks – they’re dresses for women rather than girlish, and still have a sense of occasion.

    I think my favourite guest looks are Fabiola’s red and gold, plus Irene’s magenta – I’ve seen a full length pic and the shape is divine.

    • Here’s a full view of Princess Irene’s ensemble at a later rewearing. The shape of the gown is fantastic and the floral headpiece works so well against the boat neckline
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      • That’s the exact pic I was thinking of! It’s an amazing shape isn’t it, Irene was… well still is… such a stunning lady.

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