Dutch Territory in Ottawa, Ontario

English: Prince Bernhard, Princess Irene, Prin...
Prince Bernhard, Princess Irene, Princess Juliana holding Princess Margriet, Queen Wilhelmina and Princess Beatrix at 541 Acacia Avenue, Ottawa (Canada) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 19, 1945 Princess Margriet was born to Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in a room in the Ottawa Civic hospital (Ottawa, Ontario) declared to be Dutch territory. The Dutch royal family lived in Ottawa as exiles during World War II; Juliana would become Queen of the Netherlands in 1948.

On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands and captured many of its cities and killed thousands. Afraid for their safety, Queen Wilhelmina decided to send Princess Juliana, her only child and heir to London (England), and then to Ottawa (Ontario) via Halifax (Nova Scotia). This was done to preserve the royal line.

They arrived in Ottawa on June 24, 1940. They were welcomed at Rideau Hall by the Earl of Athlone, Canada’s governor-general. Eventually, they moved into Stornaway House, where they lived for the next four years.

After learning of Princess Juliana’s pregnancy, the Canadian government proclaimed Ottawa Civic Hospital’s maternity suite “extraterritorial” that the royal baby would have full Dutch citizenship. Otherwise, Princess Juliana’s child would not have had sole Dutch citizenship and could not legally succeed her.

Princess Margriet Francisca was born at 7 p.m. on January 19, 1943. The name meant “daisy of freedom.”  Magrieten is a special breed of daisy that was blooming in the Netherlands at the time that it was invaded by Germany.

They stayed in Ottawa until May 1945, when the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation.

To express her gratitude for Canada’s hospitality, Juliana donated 100,000 tulip bulbs to the City of Ottawa in 1945 and promised another 20,000 bulbs every year of her life. Her one request was that some of the flowers be allowed to bloom on the grounds of the Civic Hospital, where her daughter was born. Every year since, Ottawa hosts the popular Tulip Festival, which showcases nearly a million tulips in bloom across the region.

Princess Margriet returned to Ottawa in 1995, to officially open the festival and to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

From her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam, Anne Frank wrote in her diary on Sept. 21, 1942, “I sometimes listen to the Dutch broadcasts from London. Prince Bernhard recently announced that Princess Juliana is expecting a baby in January, which I think is wonderful.”-  To mark Princess Margriet’s 70th birthday, the Dutch flag was raised on Parliament Hill Friday morning, where it will remain until sunset Saturday. “The gift of tulips sent to Canada by the Dutch royal family in gratitude — after the war and every year since — inspired our world-famous Tulip Festival,” said James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada, I invite all Canadians to celebrate this special day.” – from The Ottawa Citizen  (Written by Carolyn Harris of royalhistorian.com).

Read more:

For more, including broadcast clips, I highly recommend going to CBC Archives.


  1. I have learned so much about Canada from your blogs. This is such an inspiring post. I once lived in the Germany and visited The Netherlands often. I loved the tulips and daffodils. They would bring smiles to my face. I actually went to Anne Frank’s hiding place on one visit. It brings me chills to think she wrote about the upcoming birth of Princess Julianna’s baby is amazing.


  2. I love the huge beds of tulips each spring. Sadly, the weather has become so unpredictable that they rarely seem to bloom during the allotted time for Tulipfest, but for those who live here, they’re still pretty special.


Let me know what's on your mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.