April 29, 1964
Queen Beatrix's 1966 wedding to Claus von Amsberg caused some protests, but the fuss wasn't anything new for the Dutch royal family. Just two years earlier, Beatrix’s younger sister Princess Irene caused a far bigger headache with her choice of spouse: Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, Carlist claimant to the then-vacant Spanish throne. The controversy surrounding the second daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard began in January 1964, as rumors swirled that Irene, who had studied in Madrid, was engaged to a Spaniard (the identity of the lucky gentleman remained a secret to the public at first). And the controversy continued to grow amidst rumor and misinformation made all the worse by conflict and misunderstanding between the Dutch government, the Dutch royal court, the bride, and the groom plus his strong-willed family. It was nothing short of a public relations disaster, one which we can really only scratch the surface of here.
Religious controversy was just one issue facing the marriage. A report emerged that Irene had secretly converted to Catholicism; the report was denied by the royal court, only to be proved true by the publication of a photo of Irene praying in a Catholic church in Spain. Old religious differences were reignited, and many simply couldn’t understand why the princess had kept her conversion a secret. (For some, her rebaptism proved an additional sticking point.) Her change in religion created problems for the government too, as Irene was (initially) still in line for the Protestant Dutch throne.
|The couple making their way through the crowds outside, and a detail of the lace on the top|
Video: the wedding, followed by the papal audienceThe gown flowed out to a lengthy train – perhaps a little too lengthy, as it was apparently damaged as the couple attempted to make their way through the circus scene happening outside of the church. A touch of home was included in the Bruges lace used to trim the gown, which was a Dutch royal family heirloom; the lace was also used on the wedding gown of Irene and Carlos Hugo’s daughter Princess Carolina. Irene wore a long tulle veil anchored with the impressive Bourbon-Parma diamond tiara which had been given to her as a wedding gift. Unfortunately, years later the tiara was reported stolen and was never recovered or replaced.
What do you think of Irene's dress?