The Scandals of the House of Orange


Drugs, Bribes, and Paramilitaries
The Scandals of the House of Orange

All royal houses in Europe have their scandals. From the inappropriate declarations of the Duke of Edinburgh to Prince Charles’s alleged extramarital affairs while married to Princess Diana, to the financial scandals related to the Dutch monarchy and their alleged alteration of a Wikipedia entry to brush away the gossip.

Certainly, the House of Orange, the royal family of the Netherlands, seems to have plenty of scandals within and outside their castles walls. One of the most famous occurrences happened in 2007 as the national began reporting on a Dutch royal couple, who acknowledged altering a Wikipedia entry about a scandal that forced the prince to renounce his claim to the throne.

At that time, a spokesman for the Royal Information Service admitted that Prince Johan Friso, son of the reigning Queen Beatrix, and Princess Mabel of Oranje-Nassau had changed the wording on the popular Internet site to make it more favorable. The root of the scandal began in 2003 when the princess denied having a romantic affair with drug lord Klaas Bruinsma during her university years in 1989.

But scandals in the Dutch royal family began even earlier, around 50 years ago. In the middle of the 1950s, Prince Bernhard was involved in what some considered a personal vendetta against Greet Hofmans, a renowned faith healer. Hofmans became a personal friend of Queen Juliana, Prince Bernhard’s wife, but he did everything in his power to remove the healer from the court.

Another scandal involving Prince Bernhard submerged the foundation of the House of Orange in 1976 when it was revealed that he had accepted a US$1.1 million bribe from U.S. aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Corporation to influence the Dutch government's purchase of fighter aircraft.  The scandal made him resign his position as Inspector-General of the Dutch Armed Forces and prompted the sudden abdication of his wife, Queen Juliana.

Prince Bernhard, one of the main characters in Eurochannel’s new series, Crowns & Jewels, also made it onto the headlines in the European press in the early 1990s, when newspapers reported that money he had raised for charity ended up in a private project. The media published that Prince Bernhard had hired KAS International, owned by Special Air Service founder Sir David Stirling, to use mercenaries – mostly British – to fight poachers in nature reserves. The paramilitary group infiltrated organizations to put an end to the illegal trade in ivory, but it was proven that they were also profiting from it.

In 2004 an interview revealed that Prince Bernhard accepted the bribes from Lockheed, and that he had fathered two illegitimate daughters in the years following his marriage.

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