||[Dec. 4th, 2004|05:06 pm]
The latest celebrity deaths
who could forget this man!|
Dutch Prince Bernhard dies at 93
By Wendel Broere
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prince Bernhard, whose popularity as an allied war hero waned after a Lockheed aircraft scandal in the 1970s, has died aged 93.
The condition of the prince, who underwent several operations for cancerous tumours, had worsened in recent weeks. He died at the Utrecht University Medical Centre on Wednesday.
Married to the late Dutch Queen Juliana and father of Queen Beatrix, the German-born prince was admired by the Dutch for flying Spitfires for the Allied forces during World War Two.
Despite his German heritage and role in the pre-war German army, Bernhard was also loved for his hard work in putting the Netherlands back on its feet after liberation.
"Prince Bernhard was a man who enjoyed life. A vital man, who was active up to an old age and continued to dedicate himself for people and issues close to his heart," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said in a televised address.
"As commander of the Dutch forces he played an important role in negotiating Germany's surrender ... thanks to his authority, chaos and unnecessary violence were avoided in those uncertain months," he said.
But Bernhard was stripped off his Dutch armed forces uniform and leadership and sidelined by shame in 1976 when a parliamentary commission found he had solicited bribes to promote the sale of Lockheed fighter planes in the Netherlands.
The scandal shocked the Dutch people and nearly forced his wife to abdicate before a diplomatic solution was found.
Bernhard died at 6:50 p.m. (5.50 p.m. British time) and his body was moved to Soestdijk Palace, where hundreds of people assembled to place flowers. The body will be transferred to Noordeinde Palace in the Hague.
Parliament went into recess on news of his death.
Bernhard used his top-level contacts for causes like the World Wildlife Fund, where he was founding president from 1962 to 1976, and the Bilderberg conference for the business elite that he established in 1954.
After the Lockheed affair, his royal activities became more muted and he disliked playing second-fiddle to Juliana.
Bernhard, Prince of Lippe-Biesterfeld, was born on June 29, 1911, in Jena, Germany. He went to school in Berlin and studied law in Lausanne and Munich.
An adventurous traveller all his life, he left Germany for Paris after graduating in 1935 and worked for the giant German I.G. Farben chemical firm. While in Paris, the dashing young businessman was selected by Dutch Queen Wilhelmina as a suitable future husband for her only daughter Juliana.
They married in 1937 and had two children -- Beatrix, the current Dutch queen, and Irene -- before fleeing the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands for England in May 1940. Two more daughters were born during and after the war.
While in England, Bernhard tried to work for the British intelligence services but British officials mistrusted him because of his German nationality.
From 1942 to 1944 the prince flew with the Royal Air Force and also helped organise the Dutch resistance movement. After 1944 he helped negotiate the German surrender.