Princess Margriet to make public appearance at Tulip Festival this weekend

Visitors at the opening day of the Canadian Tulip Festival will have a chance to see Princess Margriet of the Netherlands during her five-day trip to the city.

The Ottawa-born princess will perform a troop inspection after a military parade on Saturday to mark the start of the festival. At the public event Margriet will be joined by her husband, Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, and Dutch war bride Arnolda van de Laar.

Margriet will give a brief speech with Mayor Jim Watson and Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay present, among others, and then tour the festival grounds.

Jo Riding, the Tulip festival’s executive director, said Margriet is a regular visitor. In 2002 she was present at the unveiling of the Man With Two Hats statue at Commissioners Park along Dow’s Lake, which is where she’ll give her speech on this visit.

The hats represent the friendship between the two countries, and the statue is actually a copy of one in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, where Margriet lives. The two statues face each other, Riding said.

This trip was originally planned for 2020 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We lost 7,600 plus soldiers in that battle for freedom, so there is a gratitude on the Dutch side,” Riding said. “It’s very important that we keep people understanding exactly what sacrifice looks like and why.”

Princess Margriet, seen here in 2017, was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943. Her family sought refuge in Canada during the Second World War. (Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press)

Also planting bulbs at Stornoway

Margriet was born not far from Commissioners Park at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943. Her family sought refuge in Canada during the Second World War.

“When her mother, then Princess Juliana, got home after the war, she ensured that all Canadians received a gift of 100,000 tulips to say thank you not just for hosting her family, but also for the role that the Canadian soldiers played in the liberation of the Netherlands,” Riding said.

In addition to her festival visit, Margriet — who arrives in Ottawa on Thursday — will meet with leaders as well as members of Ottawa’s Dutch community, Canadian veterans and members of the Red Cross, according to the embassy.

Her trip will start with her planting tulips at Stornoway, the residence of the leader of Canada’s Official Opposition and the house where the Dutch royal family stayed during the war.

The event will take place along an external wall and be viewable by the public Thursday morning, an embassy spokesperson said, but there will be no direct access.

Other than the Tulip Festival speech, the planting is the only public event on her itinerary.

On Friday, she’ll tour an exhibition at Ottawa City Hall with Watson on the Dutch royal family’s life in Canada.

Later that day, she’ll be joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and unveil a plaque at Beechwood Cemetery in honor of General Charles Foulkes, who took part in the negotiations in Wageningen in 1945 on the German capitulation.

Her trip ends on Monday with a meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.

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