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Refers to Ex-Queen Juliana as 'Mum' : Dutch Official Calls Bernhard a 'Kraut'

December 18, 1985

THE HAGUE — A former defense minister has caused a storm in the Netherlands by calling Queen Beatrix's German-born father, Prince Bernhard, a "typical Kraut" in a scathing interview about the Dutch Royal Family.

Henk Vredeling, defense minister from 1973 to 1976, also referred to Beatrix's mother, ex-Queen Juliana, as "Mum" and told how she once burst into tears during an argument with him.

The remarks, in an interview with the weekly Haagse Post, earned him the wrath of government politicians, a discreet rebuke from the royal house and some sharp words from his own Labor Party.

Vredeling said he argued with Juliana, then still queen, when he banned a military parade because he opposes them in principle.

Bernhard, once supreme commander of the Dutch forces, wanted the parade to go ahead and Queen Juliana phoned the minister to ask him to change his mind.

Vredeling said he refused. "And what happened then? Mum began to cry. I had Mum in tears at the other end of the line, yes, I did."

There followed a heated exchange with the prince, who finally accepted Vredeling's authority and changed his attitude. "Suddenly he was all servitude. So my comment is: 'A typical Kraut,' " Vredeling said.

"Kraut" was a common derogatory name for Germans during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Vredeling, 61, was sentenced to death by the Nazis but saved by the Allied advance.

His remarks ran counter to traditional discretion by Dutch politicians toward the Royal Family, and a spokesman for the Christian Democrats, senior partners in the ruling center-right coalition, said the party was furious.

Labor leader Joop Den Uyl said that Vredeling's words were "needlessly grieving, a violation of confidence and in conflict with a constitutional tradition which should be upheld."

A spokesman for the royal house said Vredeling had shown in the past that he did not always choose his words with care. Former ministers should not comment on their relations with royalty, the spokesman added.

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