Chair used in the maternity ward by Princess Juliana, in 1943, to be displayed at the Canadian War Museum during Tulip FestivalMay 12, 2022
Ottawa, Ontario, May 12, 2022 — The wicker chair used in 1943 by Dutch Princess Juliana following the birth of her third daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet, will be on display at the Canadian War Museum from May 14 to 22, 2022. The chair was gifted to the Museum by The Ottawa Hospital.
“This chair represents a very personal and poignant aspect of the friendship between nations, while connecting us to the broader story about the effects of the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War,” said Dean F. Oliver, Acting Vice-President and Director General of the War Museum. “We are grateful to The Ottawa Hospital for this historically significant gift.”
In May 1940, as Germany invaded the Netherlands, the Dutch royal family escaped to Great Britain. The new Governor General of Canada at the time, the Earl of Athlone, was married to Princess Alice — a first cousin to Queen Wilhelmina. They invited Princess Juliana to Canada, and she and her children, Princesses Beatrix and Irene, arrived in Ottawa in June 1940.
Before Princess Margriet was born at The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus on January 19, 1943, the Government of Canada had designated some of the maternity rooms extraterritorial, to ensure that the newborn would retain entirely Dutch citizenship and that the line of succession would be protected. The chair Princess Juliana used in the private ward rooms remained in the hospital’s possession until it was gifted to the Canadian War Museum in 2020.
“The birth of Princess Margriet here in Ottawa was a significant moment for the relationship between Canada and the Netherlands, one that The Ottawa Hospital is proud to have been a part of,” said Suzanne Madore, Executive Vice-President, Chief Clinical Officer and Chief Nursing Executive, The Ottawa Hospital. “We’re grateful to the Canadian War Museum for giving us the opportunity to share this piece of history with our community.”
Following the royal family’s return home at the war’s end in 1945, Princess Juliana sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada to express gratitude for the leading role played by Canadian forces in liberating the Netherlands and for providing her family with a safe haven. She sent another 20,000 in 1946. The gifts of tulip bulbs have continued ever since. The beauty of these blooming tulips inspired the establishment of the Canadian Tulip Festival, which has occurred annually in Ottawa since 1953.
The original plans to display the chair in 2020 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions. Work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.
Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum