In the media there is once again (this happens every few years) another round of calls to return the Royal Palace on the Dam back to the city of Amsterdam to function once again as it's town hall. The building had a very extensive renovation ten/twelve years ago and has been bought by the national state in 1935 from the city of Amsterdam to function as the Royal Palace, but these calls come every few years.
It's unlikely to change but part of me would like to see the palace returned and Amsterdam loosing it's status as capital. The Hague would be a more logical choice and that might lead to an apparently much needed renovation of Noordeinde Palace. The next investiture could be held at the Hall of Knights underlining the fact that it is a secular event and not a religious one. Not that i expect it will happen any time soon if at all.
With the current set up of 4 residences the Dutch monarch is not eccessive.
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is used for grand receptions, incoming state visits and a few award ceremonies. The rest of the time the main floor is open to the public. Im not a fan of what they did with it (i would have made different choices in the use of rooms) but it will remain as it is the only residence in the capital.
Huis ten Bosch as the main royal residence is also likely to remain. There simply is no other palace that could really take over the function it has. With the surrounding park it can be well protected and provides a modest but stately residence for the head of state.
Noordeinde Palace could see some other use if a new wing is build in the gardens of Huis ten Bosch. The fact that a building permit was given does not mean it has to be build. So for the time being i expect Noordeinde will remain the office of the King and his staff for most of the year. The Orange apple award ceremony takes place there and it is used for the ceremony surrounding the letters of credence of a newly appointed embassador to the Netherlands.
Noordeinde 66 has been incorperated into the palace so it might become the office and pied a terre for the Princess of Orange after she graduates. Beatrix turns 86 in january by the time Amalia really starts as a working royal her grandmother will be closer to 90 and no longer in need of the rooms in Noordeinde.
I expect Amalia will either buy her own home (Beatrix and Willem-Alexander both did so) but could also take on either Drakensteyn Castle or Villa Eikenhorst depending on what WA and Maxima plan to use as their retirement home in 20 years or so.
Castle het Oude Loo will remain rented because of the clause that links major parts of the crown estates to it. When Wilhelmina handed over a lot of her private lands to the crown estate it was under the clause that if the monarchy ends the land (and in some versions also the castle) revert to the House of Orange-Nassau.
In my view the Dutch monarchy made a mistake in the late 1980's early 1990's when the military barracks in Breda were discontinued but the Royal Militairy Academy remained in the old castle of Breda.
Had they moved them to the barracks the old castle of Breda could have started a restoration giving a unique Renaissance Palace to the kingdom and making it the perfect location for a dynastic museum. Linking back to William the Silent and his ancestors as well. Not just the Nassau's but also the even longer links through the Polanen side.
That would have freed up Het Loo Palace. Now it's been extended as a museum there is no real option to return it to Royal use. Soestdijk Palace has been sold off and it's location made it less likely to remain in royal use.
The remaining four residences are in size not large and compared to other monarchies is a small number.
1) Prince's Pavillion (home of Felipe VI and Letizia)
2) Zarzuela Palace (offices of TM, home of HM queen Sofia and princess Irene)
3) Pardo Palace (official guesthouse of the Spanish state and additional reception palace for the monarchy)
4) Palacio del Oriente (great reception palace and museum)
5) Almundaina Palace (official summer palace of TM)
6) Marivent Palace (actual summer residence of Queen Sofia and TM?)
7) Villa Sol (summer residence of TM?)
1) Royal Palace in Brussels (office and reception palace of TM)
2) Laecken Castle (residence of TM)
3) Ciergnon Castle ( weekend residence of TM)
4) Belvedere (residence of Albert II and Paola)
5) Villa Schoonenberg (residence of Astrid and Lorenz)
6) Villa Clementine (residence of Laurent and Claire)
7) Fenfe manor (weekend retrait of Albert II and Paola)
8) Stuyvenberg Castle (former residence of Queen Fabiola and potential future home of Duchess of Brabant)
1) Christiansborg Palace Royal reception rooms (state appartments)
2) christian VII Palace Amalienborg complex (reception rooms and guesthouse)
3) Christian VIII Palace Amalienborg complex (museum and rooms for Princess Benedikte, offices of prince Joachim)
4) Frederik VIII Palace, Amalienborg complex (residence of crownprince)
5) Christian IX Palace, Amalienborg complex (residende of Queen Margrethe II)
6) Gule Palais (office of courtiers)
7) Fredensborg Palace (country residence of the Queen)
8) Chancellery, Fredendsborg (country residence of the crownprince)
9) Grasten Castle (summer residence of Royal family)
10) Ermitage castle ((hunting residence)
11) Sorgenfri palace (unused)
1) Royal Palace (main reception palace and offices Royal House)
2) Drottningholm Palace (residence of King and Queen)
3) Haga Palace (residence of the crownprincess)
Officially the king also has use of several palaces belonging to the crown that are mainly museums: Gustav III's Pavillion, Ulriksdal palace, Tullgarn Palace, Rosendal Palace, Rosersberg Palace, Gripsholm Castle and the Chinese palace.
1) Royal Palace Oslo (residence TM)
2) Stifsgarden (residence in Trondheim)
3) Bygdo Kongsgarden (summer residence TM)
4) Holmen royal lodge (Christmas residence TM)
5) Gamlehaugen (residence in Bergen)
6) Ledaal (residence in Stavanger)
1) Buckingham Palace
2) St James' Palace
3) Clarence House
4) Kensington Palace
5) Windsor Castle
6) Royal Lodge
7) Bagshot Park
8) Adelaide Cottage
9) Holyrood House
If im correct these are all residences owned by the State/crown a province/region, city or town put at the disposal of the monarchy.
I think a renovation of the state rooms of Noordeinde could very well be in the cards especially if the use of the Palace is changed during or after Willem-Alexander's tenure. One wing at the back could be turned into an exhibition space. The royal household can move to the Royal Mews. The other wing of Noordeinde can be used as a modest apartment block for the odd family member or guest when staying in the city..
And after a thorough renovation and refurbishment the State Rooms (some dedicated to its first inhabitants of Het Oude Hof like Louise de Coligny, Frederik Hendrik and Amalia and the 19th century monarchs Willem I, Willem III and Wilhelmina who actually resided there. It could be opened up to the public permanently. The building has - as you said - a tremendous history.
When Amalia as Head of State needs to use the palace for Prinsjesdag it can be closed for the day. Audiences, lunches etc. can also be held in Huis ten Bosch or Amsterdam.
Amalia should not have a say in which Palaces she would like to use. The government is the proper authority to decide that. Currently its three palaces but I think it would be perfectly sensible to have only two Palaces for the Head of State: one in The Hague (HtB) and one in Amsterdam (Dam Palace). The Binnenhof complex can also be used by the Head of State for receptions. Days of lavish royal lifestyles are far behind us. I doubt Amalia will continue to rent Het Oude Loo from the State as a weekend retreat. By that time the interior of the old castle will be dead tired and hunting will be out of the question. Drakensteijn seems destined as the family's only and rather modest PRIVATE country retreat. But perhaps they will vacate that as well. The fact that Friso was not buried on the grounds of the estate but the adjacent public cemetery is ominous. A private burial ground on the estate would have been more practical I think. Who of the younger generations of the main line beside the King and Queen would want to be buried in the crypt in Delft.... My guess? Nobody!
Ultimately Willem-Alexander and Maxima can move back into their private residence The Eikenhorst but no doubt spend much time in their Jetset villa in Greece. Question is: where will Amalia reside after her studies? Noordeinde 66 does not seem to be an option these days. Will she move into the guest house on the grounds of HtB or is The Eikenhorst destined for her?
Constantijn and Willem-Alexander jointly own the Italian Villa and perhaps even with their sister in law but I doubt it will be retained by them after Beatrix has passed away unless either Constantijn or Mabel are willing to buy out the other family members but perhaps this has already been done. Who knows. I don't think Willem-Alexander and Maxima nor their children spend much time there anymore but I could be wrong.
Im not a fan of what was done to the blue and green drawing rooms in Huis ten Bosch either. Nor what was done to HM's office even though i agree with the added window.
Yes Noordeinde Palace could do with a renovation. After 39 years it's more than due. I doubt many office buildings, restaurants, shops or private homes have gone without any real major change in 39 years.
Im just not sure it would help the institution at this point. it also depends on what the Princess of Orange intends to do with the palaces. Is she going to follow in her father's and grandmother's footsteps and use the three remaining palaces as they did or will she do things differently.
I know the city of The Hague has given planning consent to build another wing at Huis ten Bosch in the same height as the two wings it already has. Such a separate block could provide Queen Amalia's courtiers with the offices they need. Leaving Noordeinde as less needed.
It might become more of a place used to house guests and offices and a pied a terre for other members of the Royal House and not have a very public role outside of Prinsjesdag.
It's a shame they don't make more from what the Dutch royal collection and the state collection provide. There are amazing neo Boulle pieces from Willem II and Willem III in the collection that could have a starring role.
The original sofa and 6 armchairs made for the white hall still exist. They have their original floral upholstery under the gold and red damask fabric put on them for the wedding of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik in 1901. They could simply opt to put similar fabric on them as used for the footstools and curtains and combine it with one of the stunning state portraits of Willem III. Yes he was not the best monarch but he was quite a handsome king and the state portrait of him as an admiral of the fleet in a dune landscape is impressive. It would look good in a room that was created for him, during his reign.
To the right of the main or state vestibule now lies the Pieter Post room, behind it are two hallways. If one of them was added to the space you'd end up with a room the size of the white hall above. All eight of Jean Baptiste Verhulst's portraits of Willem I, his wife, their children, daughters-in-law and son-in-law would fit in that space. For the ceiling they could use the designs for the old yellow drawing room. The furniture of that room survived and could be added with the circular sofa in Empire style made for Queen Wilhelmina you admired in the green anteroom.
That green anteroom used to be the red drawing room. The ceiling was restored and the fireplace, clock and furnishings of Willem I have all survived. All that would be required was to change the wall hangings and curtains and potentially replace the carpet.
Noordeinde has plenty of redeeming features and could easily become the equivalent of the Royal Palace in Oslo or more. It's been the home of the Dutch Royal dynasty since 1591. Not many royal residences have that much history. But it would require clear choices by those in power and a monarchy popular enough to deal with the cost and following media attention about such an expense.
Thanks Johan for your comments. I have visited many royal palaces abroad but even those in a dilapidated state often have more grandeur because they have more lavish interiors. If only Noordeinde was furnished with grander pieces it would make such a difference! Look at the Palace in Amsterdam. The huge Empire furniture collection makes all the difference in there and it's certainly not furnished sparsely! The Malachite pieces in Noordeinde have some wow factor but also those pieces need a good polish! Nothing shines. And that is what struck me most: The lack of attention paid to the 'few' pieces and the interiors that are somewhat worthwhile. The palace is not privately owned and most of the furniture is in fact not private property either. For instance the Malachite set (taken from Soestdijk) was handed over to the government in a much critiqued tax deal after Juliana died that involved many art pieces.
On that note: do you know what happened to remaining Empire furniture from Soestdijk? Is it still there? I agree that in the 1980's people then involved went a bit overboard emphasising functionality within the Palace. It is easy to turn it around with better i.e. appropriate styling using grander antique furniture and artefacts. AND please, please get rid of those horrid thick carpets and invest in better wooden floors and antique carpets. I won't comment on Huis ten Bosch because what they did to some of the rooms in the Corps de Logis (which is NOT part of the private residence) leaves me utterly speechless and not in good sense.
According to the government and the royal house website Noordeinde Palace has a representational function. If that is the case I think better upkeep is required! This is public property and it should be taken care of! If I am unimpressed, I can't imagine what foreign dignitaries are left thinking.....
Im not surprised you felt unimpressed.
Noordeinde is small, like all Dutch palaces except the one in Amsterdam it started as a private home. It never was intended as the main Royal residence. Soestdijk and het Loo are also small and in other countries would be considered country houses rather than palaces.
I don't know if you have visited palaces abroad, but not all are massive. The Grand ducal palace in Luxembourg city is not particularly large either, neither is Christian VII palace or any of the other three residences of the Amalienborg complex in Copenhagen. The main halls are 14 by 9 meters (the great hall of Noordeinde is about 24 by 9).
As for it looking tired, most of the rooms were finished in 1984, 39 years ago. Non of them have been redone since. The furniture from the blue drawing room in Huis ten bosch now in the white hall was upholstered in the 1950's.
The central great hall never sits 200. It generally is limited to around 120 and is maxed out by 150 for a meal.
Painted marble was at some point more expensive than real marble so yes it has to look fake.
The new staircase in the garden vestibule is a strange idea. I get the desire to have a second large entrance at the back of the palace, but it would have been better not to fit in a big staircase. That could have been move to the northwest corner behind the garden drawing room on the ground floor and the Marot dining room on the floor above. That would have left a space of about 14 by 14 meters on both floors.
You describe it as looking cold, that is partially due to the more minimalist approach chosen in the restoration from 1977 till 1984 but also fits in with the Empire style many of the rooms are in. The fact that the building is not lived in but used mainly as an office does not help either. Office buildings are rarely cosy or homely and they are not intended to feel that way. I never liked the idea that the south garden wing that used to house the private apartments was turned into staff offices. it would have been better to move those to Noordeinde 66 (Beatrix' pied a terre) and use the family wing to house members of the Royal House when they are in The Hague.
Considering that both Huis ten Bosch and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam have been done up in recent years im not expecting Noordeinde will get the much needed renovation any time soon. It would be another costly renovation and im not sure the monarchy is at present popular enough to be able to afford such an expense.
I visited Noordeinde Palace recently with some friends and we were quite excited until we entered the building and we left 40 mins later totally unimpressed. Most visitors seemed to agree that the only 'state' room in the building that makes a lasting impression is the East Indies Room even though you can only have a quick peak standing in the doorway for 30 seconds.
I will share some of my observations here:
- Modest. The dimensions of the rooms and halls are very modest. Now you can' blame the building for being what it is but it is remarkable. The Great Ball Room is not that great i.e. large.: How they manage to fit 2 hundred + people in there during state visits is a mystery to me. It can't be very comfortable and I wonder how people get enough oxygen in their system to avoid collapsing on the posh dinner service in front of them.
- Fake. The presence of a fair amount of imitation marble and stone: painted plastered walls, columns and pilasters create a very fake feel even though there's also a fair amount of real marble / stone present. Some of the modern additions (plastic painted doors by Marthe Roling etc.) don't help either. I hate, I repeat hate the plexiglass side tables placed in several rooms and the heavy cloths totally covering most of the (side) tables. You wonder whether the tables under neath are even antiques and not just cheap folding tables. I didn't dare to lift the cloths. I should have!
- Empty. Several rooms actually don't have much (antique) furniture or artefacts in them. The Balcony Room has the potential to awe but deliberate or not it looks and feels impressively empty with the (nice) Empire furniture that is present ( in the back). Now it might have been a deliberate choice to keep the rooms and spaces sparsely decorated for audiences and receptions etc but it creates a rather cold and 'functional' empty atmosphere. The only cozy place was the small Green Anti-Chambre. I love the elegant round sofa in there!
- Strange. The Vestibule in the back is a very, very strange space. It just does not make sense. I know it was created by a reputable architect at the time but what was he thinking? Really. I also can't understand some, well actually many of the styling choices or lack thereof in the rooms. The White Ball Room is in one word a mess. It is by far the biggest mismatch of furniture you and I will have ever seen. Truly! It looks like a five year old choose the furniture while running around on a sugar rush in IKEA. The Room is stunning, the furniture ruins it!
- Tired. The palace needs a good cleaning and quite some repairs. General condition of the rooms, including floors, carpets etc is not great. Nothing compares to Soestdijk which is truly a dump but the interior has seen better days and it s starting to look worn down. Chipped paint and flooring, dirty windows and chandeliers, de-colouring of the (real) marble, stains in carpets, Oxydation patches on mirrors etc. I guess in the evening with the right lighting it might look somewhat better but during the daytime, the place looks tired.
I am curious what others who visited (live or online)think of the interior.