Dutch royalty, Prince of the Netherlands,
husband of Queen Juliana, father of
Queen Beatrix, and the founder and
first president of the World Wildlife Fund.
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Bernhard Leopold Friedrich Eberhard Julius Kurt Karl
Gottfried Peter Lippe-Biesterfeld
Date and place of birth: June 29, 1911, Jena, Germany
Date, time, place and cause of death: December 1, 2004,
at 6:50 p.m., Utrecht University Medical Hospital, Utrecht, Netherlands (Cancer)
Spouse: Queen Juliana (m. January 7, 1937 - March 20, 2004) (her death)
Wedding took place in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Daughters: Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard (b. January 31, 1938, at 9:47 a.m.,
Soestdijk Palace, Baarn, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Irene Emma Elisabeth (b. August 5, 1939, Soestdijk Palace,
Baarn, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Margriet Francisca (b. January 19, 1943, Ottawa Civic Hospital,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Marijke Christina (b. February 18, 1947, Soestdijk Palace,
Baarn, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Father: Prince Bernhard von Lippe
Mother: Baroness Armgard von Sierstorpff-Cramm
Burial site: The royal crypt, Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Delft, Netherlands
Prince Bernhard's lifestyle contrasted greatly
with that of his wife Queen Juliana.
He enjoyed the jet-setting good life, with fast
cars, lavish parties, designer clothes, luxury
vacations and carried on numerous affairs with
women around the world. Conversely, the shy
and soft-spoken Queen Juliana was down-to-earth,
unpretentious and uncomfortable with ceremony
and pomp. She was known as the "people's queen"
and also the "bicycling monarch" for her
penchant for bicycling around her capital.
She dispensed with convention by abolishing
the curtsey and other formalities which she
found embarrassing or considered outdated. It
was not unusual to find the informal queen
shopping at the local supermarket in a common
housewife's dress. Queen Juliana sometimes
startled visitors by personally serving them
tea or by sitting comfortably on the floor. Her
no-nonsense attitude and tireless work on behalf
of social issues and child welfare, won the deep
affection and respect of her subjects. Prince
Bernhard on the other hand, had a regal attitude
that distanced him from his countrymen. The
German-born prince won some admiration from the
Dutch for successfully getting the royal family
to safety in England after the Nazi German
invasion of the Netherlands, and later, flying
with the Royal Air Force against the Nazis
during World War II.
Initially an avid big-game hunter, he later
recognized the importance of conservation,
founding the World Wildlife Fund and serving as
its first president (1961-77). The organization
would go on to become one of the world's largest
and most respected independent conservation groups.
He was credited with convincing world leaders to
ban hunting of the Bengal Tiger and the African
He was never able to shake his playboy image, and
his reputation was later tarnished by bribery
and adultery scandals. In an interview before
his death, he acknowledged he'd fathered two
illegitimate daughters. "I had six daughters,"
he told a Dutch newspaper in the interview, and
asked that they be left in peace. The girls were
named Alexia and Alicia. Alexia, a Frenchwoman,
born in the 1960s, was an open secret in the
Netherlands. However, the existence of Alicia
was a startling revelation. Born in the 1950s,
she was believed to be living in the United
States at the time of his death.
A major scandal ensued when it was revealed
Prince Bernhard had received bribes totaling
over a million dollars from U.S. aircraft
manufacturer Lockheed, in his capacity as
inspector-general of the Dutch armed forces.
The 1976 Lockheed bribery scandal forced the
Prince to relinquish his military titles and
all his public offices after an investigation
determined he had solicited bribes from the
U.S. plane manufacturer to influence the Dutch
government's purchase of fighter aircraft.
Later in life he finally admitted to having taken
the bribes, but said he had a clean conscience
about the Lockheed affair, and that he did it
with the best intentions, but it was also,
The media always managed to dig up additional
unpleasantness from Bernhard's background whenever
one of these scandals would become public knowledge.
Though years later he claimed he was totally
opposed to the Nazi ideology, he did acknowledge
he'd been a member of the Nazi German SS. Evidence
also came to light that Bernhard had been a member
of Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party
(NSDAP). Questionable business deals involving
various nefarious characters were also uncovered.
Yet the controversial consort of Queen Juliana
was always able to count on the support of his
wife, who stood by him through thick and thin
throughout their 67 year marriage. He died of
cancer in 2004.
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