In May 1940, when The Netherlands was invaded by German forces, Queen Wilhelmina, and the government were evacuated to the United Kingdom. The following month Princess Juliana and her two daughters moved to Ottawa. Her mother, who was Queen, and her husband Prince Bernhard, remained behind. In 1942, Princess Juliana was pregnant and arrangements were made in Ottawa for delivering her of a Prince or a Princess. The child by virtue of bloodlines would be in line of succession to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, however, if the child were entitled to Canadian (British) citizenship, that would disqualify him or her from being an heir to the throne. This was particularly important since, if the baby were a boy, he would eventually be in line to become the King of The Netherlands. A special royal proclamation was made to declare Princess Juliana’s Ottawa Civic Hospital rooms Dutch territory. This would prevent the child from having a right to Canadian citizenship, making him or her exclusively Dutch.
On January 19, 1943, Princess Margriet of The Netherlands was born, fourth in line to the throne, behind her mother, and her two older sisters. She remains the only royal person born in North America. After returning to The Netherlands with her children in a liberated Netherlands, Princess Juliana made a gift of 100,000 tulips bulbs as a thank you to the people of Canada for their hospitality during the war, as well as the liberation of Dutch territory by Canadian Forces. An additional 20,000 bulbs were sent the following year, with a request that they be planted on the ground of Ottawa Civic Hospital. Annual gifts continued throughout Queen Juliana’s reign from 1948-1980. These gifts led to Ottawa’s annual tulip festival, which has been running since 1953.
A special tulip has been commissioned to celebrate Canada’s 150th sesquicentennial in 2017. This new tulip bulb is white with a splash of red that resembles a Maple leaf at its base.
“The tulip represents gratitude and the long-standing friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. Blooming in the colours of Canada’s flag, Canada 150 tulips will bring both pride and joy to gardens and communities from coast to coast to coast.”
—His Excellency Cees Kole, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
These bulbs are available from Home Hardware stores across Canada, while supplies last. October is time to plant!