In 1940, Dutch Queen Wilhelmina fled the Netherlands ahead of the advancing German army, landing in the United Kingdom to maintain an independent Dutch government. She broadcast messages back to the Netherlands as Radio Oranje, actually air time granted on BBC transmitters. Loyal, outspoken and sometimes controversial in her criticism of the Dutch political leadership, Churchill once commented that she the only real man among the governments-in-exile in the UK.
Koeningdag will be celebrated on Monday in the Netherlands, a date set aside since Juliana’s ascension to the Dutch throne following the end of the War. In Wilhelmina’s day, it was held on August 31, popular as the final day of school summer vacation.
Among the places she lived while in the UK was Stubbings House, pictured above, now a private residence and garden center in Berkshire. The gardens were open for charity this weekend, and so ‘off to see the 18th century Georgian building and the surrounding rare trees and woodland flowers.
The fields beyond the Ha-ha (a novelty trench designed to keep cows out of the crops) were yellow with blooming rapeseed, and the woodlands were sprinkled with primrose and buttercups amidst the remaining bluebells and daffodils. The signage could have been better the Iron Age ruins and Ice Pit were impossible to find.
The rain held off long enough for a good walk through the estate, cake and tea in the greenhouse, and browsing for a few plants among the flowering trees to take back home.