It was a highly unusual sight: the Dutch flag flying alone above the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings. Indeed, it was the first time a foreign emblem had waved over Canada’s capital. It marked a very special occasion — the birth of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, the first and only royal born in Canada (on Jan. 19, 1943). Her family had been in the country since June 1940 following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Famously, the maternity ward of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared extraterritorial so Margriet would not become a Canadian citizen. Following her nation’s liberation in 1945, her mother, Princess Juliana, who later became Queen, sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada — a gift that inspired Ottawa’s Canadian Tulip Festival. Here Princess Margriet, herself named after a flower, shares insights into her one-of-a-kind relationship with the festival and Canada.
On the significance of the Canadian Tulip Festival
The festival symbolizes the bond that we in the Netherlands have had with Canada ever since the Second World War. As I have attended the festival several times, I have experienced this as a token of gratitude to Canada for the hospitality shown to my family during the occupation of the Netherlands. We in the Netherlands will always be conscious of the sacrifices made by so many Canadians for our sake.
On the symbolism of her name
The Margriet is a daisy. It was chosen by my grandmother as a symbol of the resistance, and that is why I carry that name. I have always been conscious of the link that I have with the Second World War because of my name. It is not a burden. In a way, I feel it is a privilege.