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Huis ten Bosch Palace

Situated on the outskirts of the west coast city of The Hague - home of the Dutch government - 17th-century Huis ten Bosch Palace is the principal residence of the Dutch royal family. Intended to serve as a summer residence for the then king (in those days known as Stadholder) Frederik Hendrik and his wife Princess Amalia, the imposing building was designed by Pieter Post, and the first foundation stone was laid in 1645. The palace remained the property of the Dutch royal family until the French invasion of 1795, when the family fled into exile and Huis ten Bosch passed into the hands of the State.

In 1806, Louis Napoleon, the brother of the diminutive French emperor, who had been elevated to the throne of Holland, moved in for a short time. Louis renovated the palace in flamboyant Empire style, and many of his pieces of furniture are still in use in the palace. In 1815, after Napoleon's fall, Willem I was proclaimed King of the Netherlands and Huis ten Bosch was restored as a royal residence.

Successive generations of royals resided in the palace up until WWII when the present monarch's grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, fled to England after the Germans invaded Holland in May 1940. The family returned at the end of the conflict to find their former home wrecked by bullet, shell and bomb damage. Its art treasures had been taken to safety, but the walls, ceilings and floors had suffered extensively.

Although the palace comptroller had managed to persuade the Nazis not to demolish Huis ten Bosch to make way for tank traps, as they had planned, the building was uninhabitable. It took six years of restoration before the palace was finally habitable again in 1956, and the gardens were laid out as a gift from the nation to Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard.

After Queen Beatrix acceded to the throne, she and her family took up residence at Huis ten Bosch in 1981. Although her three sons have now flown the nest, she and her husband Prince Claus maintain a set of private apartments in the Wassenaar wing. They also have offices in the Hague's 16th-century Noordeinde Palace.

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