Chasing royal footprints at Paleis Soestdijk (Soestdijk Palace)

Paleis Soestdijk

The palace from the other side of the lake

Last Friday at noontime, we waited in bated breath for the news conference by the surgeons of the University Hospital Innsbruck to learn about the condition of Prince Johan Friso, the second of the three sons of Queen Beatrix. A week before the news conference, Prince Friso has been buried in an avalanche while skiing off-piste in Lech together with a childhood friend (the son of the owner of the posh Gasthof Post where the royal family has been staying for about 50 years of skiing in Austria). It was said in the news that he was not wearing the safety vest and that it took about 20 minutes to find and dug him out of the snow. From that time onwards, we did not have any news except that he is in critical but stable condition.

The news conference brought out the most feared prognosis on everyone’s mind. The prince who lay in coma may never regain consciousness again. The brain damage was just so severe due to lack of oxygen from the 20 minutes that he was buried in the snow and the further 50 minutes it took to resuscitate him. The doctors hoped that the mild hypothermia might have prevented that brain damage but that was not the case. A grim news to everyone and extremely much more to his mother, his wife, 2 little daughters and his brothers and their families.

Life is so fragile and happiness can be clipped in an instant. Here is a young and smart guy (he’s got MSc in Aerospace Engineering from TU Delft, who has the world at his feet and in an instant, everything has been transformed in such a nightmarish tragedy. I feel so sorry for his mother who I actually met in person last November at an affair in my former school. She attended the conference where President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali gave a lecture on the democratization process in his country and in Africa. I was standing close to the queen in the ensuing cocktail reception and much to my surprise, we were sipping the same wine and eating the same snacks. She was not a snob, much to my amazement as she listened patiently and chatted animately with the MA students who were also in attendance.

So much for my sad news, I bring you one lovely place where we normally go for our Sunday walks especially in spring. We happen to live a mere 15-minutes away from this simple royal palace with a lovely garden.

A royal palace that used to be the residence of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernard (parents of the reigning monarch, Queen Beatrix), Soestdijk reverted to state ownership and was transformed into a museum after the death of Prince Bernard a few years ago (Princess Juliana died a few years before him).

This is a very simple palace (we’ve made a tour of its interior in 2009), testament to the simple taste of Princess Juliana in her lifetime. A place full of happy memories as this was the place where she raised her 4 daughters, received foreign heads of states as well as the Dutch people who came in droves to greet her on her birthday on the 30th of April with her husband, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. Happy occasions in the family were also celebrated here like the engagement of her daughters.

Late spring is the best time to be here at Soestdijk. On this visit almost 2 springtimes ago (May 2010), the weather was fantastic and the various types of rhododendrons were in full bloom.

Francesca had a great time today running around, doing her imaginary fishing and simply smelling the flowers. I love the sight of the lake lined by those rhododendrons of various colors. After a good walk through the palace grounds, I always enjoy a cup of cappuccino and some piece of cake at the Orangerie.

the lake

The enthusiastic little fisher and her father

Rhododendrons in full bloom



The bridge

Red birch tree

Father and daughter

The chasing game

The little girl and the big tree

Orange rhododendron

Nature coming back to life

The fountain

One of the few sculptures inside the palace grounds

Trees coming back to life in spring

Father and daughter

Palace grounds

The little girl can be happy with just twigs

Father and daughter

The little girl and the palace

Palace grounds


Lilac rhododendrons

The Orangerie

An insect at work

The patient fisher

Yellow rhododendrons

Rhododendrons in full bloom

The little flower picker



Me and my little girl

Paleis Soestdijk

About Malou
I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl with interest in cooking, baking, traveling and photography. Castles and palaces are special favorites so when weather permits for a good walk on weekends, me, hubby and little girl are always out for a bit of adventure.

93 Responses to Chasing royal footprints at Paleis Soestdijk (Soestdijk Palace)

  1. I always enjoy your photos. Your daughter is a true wide eyed wonder! I hope someday that the skiing vest with inflatable air bags will become as common as a pair of ski goggles.

    • Malou says:

      Glad to know that you like this post.

      I guess at times people become too confident in their own capabilities and forget that there are still circumstances which are beyond their control. If only he had all those safety gadgets on with him, the outcome would have been different. If only….

  2. Seasweetie says:

    Lovely photos! How sad about the Prince. Yes, it’s amazing how quickly things can change forever. These pictures are from a previous trip? Or were you there this year?

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot. Yes, this is really a very sad story. And I feel so sorry for his wife who also lost her biological dad at 9 years old when he fell on an icy water hole while ice skating.

      These pictures were from May 2010, almost 2 springtimes ago.

  3. Jane says:

    I can tell your daughter looks so much younger in these pictures! That is crazy that you met the queen! You are right though … life is so fleeting and precious. Hug your baby girl!

    • Malou says:

      These pictures were from almost 2 years ago. My little girl has indeed grown up a lot. I did not let that opportunity to meet the queen up close and personal pass by. Such a chance doesn’t come that often. The year before that, I was at another reception where her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Maxima was in attendance. These stories are something to look back in my old age. ;-)

  4. Mary says:

    Your lovely photos are making me anxious for spring to come my way!

  5. Dear Malou, What a beautiful tribute to Prince Friso and life. It’s true. We should seize each and every day. Of course, as always, your photographs are vibrant and full of spirit. They always make me smile. Thanks for that! Theadora

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot, Theadora. I feel so sad for his 2 young daughters who’ll never experience important milestones in their lives with their father. I feel so sorry for his wife who with this event is re-living a nightmare in her early life when she lost her biological father to a freak accident in the same month 34 years ago.

      Yes, we have to live each day like it’s our last and be grateful to the one above for the blessings of good health. ;-)

  6. edebock says:

    What a beautiful spot and what sad news!

    • Malou says:

      Looking back at this place where Prince Friso had happy memories of his youth playing in its splendid gardens on those visits to his grandparents is my way of thinking of his best times. ;-)

  7. viveka says:

    Malou … thanks for bringing the spring to us all. So sad about Prince Johan – and his young family. Read in the British newspapers that I suffering from a massive brain damage. Yes, life is so brittle – doesn’t matter if you’re royal or not. The thing is if he comes back – what kind of life will he get ???!!!! Hopefully for for him and his family an acceptable life. Thank you so much for this lovely post. It’s humble and beautiful.

    • Malou says:

      The sad news is still felt here for only a miracle will bring him back to the life that he had before. He’s been flown today to London where he will be cared for in a hospital with specialization in neurological cases. My thoughts are with his mother, wife and especially the 2 young girls who will never know their father in the way they would have wanted going forward. How sad that their happiness has been clipped in an instant.

      • viveka says:

        Yes, terrible – not fair! On the other hand it happen to families all over the world ever day – that can’t afford specialist treatments and care … that we never hear about. Life is to brittle – one minute here .. next gone. I hope if he survives he will be able to have a decent life. God Bless them all out there …

      • Malou says:

        What happened to him is a reminder to all of us that royal or not, we have our own vulnerabilities. No amount of money in the world can bring back good health when such an unfortunate accident happens.

  8. Beautiful,post. I shall add prince Johan Friso and his family to my prayer list. How very sad for all of them Every moment is a gift from God so we must make each one of them count.

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot for including him and his family in your prayers, Joy. We sure need a prayer brigade to ask miracles to bring him back to his loving family. ;-)

  9. Lottie Nevin says:

    Malou – this is such sad news about Prince Johan. I’m afraid I have been living under a rock recently and had no idea that this had happened.

    Your post is a delight. I love the photos and yes, I echo the comments of the others in saying thanks for bringing the spring to us all.

    Young children are such a joy, they find pleasure in the simplest of things, twigs, flowers, insects and pretending to fish. Adorable!

    • Malou says:

      Indeed this is a sad news which affect everyone here in Holland.
      You are right about children, the things that bring them pleasure are the simplest of things. She’s been asking when will spring be so that she can start picking flowers again. ;-)

  10. Sad news regarding the princes accident. On the other hand how very lucky you’re within 15 mins walking distance of the palace and those impeccable gardens. Beautiful!

  11. Lovely post. I hope the prince would come back to life as everything in the spring…

  12. defeatgarden says:

    I love the picture of the rhododendron peeking out of the fence – beautiful! Looks like you have a great place to visit :)

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot. Yes, we are lucky to have some nice places to go to for a walk. We also cycled from home to this palace and back on warm days in the past and they were also fun experiences rewarded with amazing countryside sceneries along the way. ;-)

  13. Such a deeply sad event, my heart breaks for his family. When we are young, we think if we plan it all out, life will go according to plan. Then from out of nowhere, it can change in an instant. Thus the phrase, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

    The colors of the beautiful living flowers, shrubs and trees are stunning! I’ve never seen such brilliantly red rhododendrons before. It’s always lovely when we discover people in high positions who are as down to earth as most of us. They are a treasure.

    • Malou says:

      This sad event is a reminder of our mortality and the fact that we can only rely on the One above for miracles. No amount of money in the world can bring back health and happiness and at this difficult moment, prayers and the presence of family and friends are the only anchors that can steer us through the darkness.

      The rhododendrons here must be over several decades old and the many colors too are just what make them all the more interesting.

  14. chaconrafa says:

    Greetings Malou

    Life is so fragile; we all choose a path in life, but life chooses a path for us. My prayers are with the suffering of the families. He may be in a coma, but then it may be a temporary one, for only the Great Spirit knows.

    My meditations will be that he wake from sleep, that he may care for his family…

    As always, pictures are beautiful thank you kindly.


    • Malou says:

      You are so right, Rafa. Indeed life chooses a path for us. This is a very difficult time for his family and we can only include him and his family in our prayers.

  15. Dor says:

    Such a sad story about the Prince, and your gorgeous pictures make this post fascinating from beginning to end.

    • Malou says:

      Indeed, this is a very sad story about this Prince who had it all and how his life and of those around him changed in an instant.

  16. namitalad says:

    wow pics and the place

  17. Thanks for telling us about the prince. A work colleague of mine died some years ago in a skiing accident, leaving his widow and two young children. Such sadness in these accidents.

    And your photos of the gardens are glorious.

    • Malou says:

      Oh, that must be so difficult for your colleague’s wife and kids. No one is prepared for this eventuality and it is always tough on the ones left behind.

      Glad to know that you like the pictures of the garden. ;-)

  18. Lovely pictures as usual!

  19. Melody says:

    Malou, again, I’m enthralled by your photos! Seems like the Sunday promenades are definitely a European activity. The Germans also enjoy the Sunday walks and I’m thankful we have endless fields nearby to trek. After seeing your photos above, I cannot wait until the flowers are in full bloom. The first flowers are out now! Tchuss!

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot, Melody. Sunday walks are typical here in Europe. Shops and malls are closed anyway so the parks, forests, playgrounds, zoo and museums are the places for families to head to.

      I’m looking forward to the real spring too. Can’t wait till the flowers are out. You should come and visit with your family this season. Next month is the best time. ;-)

      • Melody says:

        Funny, hubby is going to Brunssum next week for a couple of days. Sadly, we can’t join him :( Where would you recommend we visit with our toddler? And are dogs welcome there in hotels?

      • Malou says:

        Hi Melody, It is still a bit early in the season for the many nice places to see here in Holland. April is the best time to see the flower fields which I highly recommend. Here is the link to check the hotels with good deals here: and you can also check if they allow dogs too. ;-)

  20. Melody says:

    Reblogged this on Global Family Treks and commented:
    With the winter gloom still upon us here in Mainz, I thought I’d share some lovely spring flowers from a fellow expat blogger, Malou at Going Dutch. I can’t wait until the flowers are in full bloom!

  21. Very sad news, a reminder too of how important it is to enjoy life and our health while we have it and it certainly looks like you and your family have some wonderful times together.
    How lovely to live so close to somehwhere so beautiful too ! stunning photo’s :-)

    • Malou says:

      This is a reminder that we should treasure happy moments together as a family. I am grateful that where we live, we care close to so many nice areas where we can have a great time bonding together as a family. ;-)

  22. Hi Malou, Pic’s are beautiful as usual, you are so lucky that you have this amazing place only 15 minute away from you.

    But very sad about Prince, may GOD blass his family.

    Thank you sharing this story……

  23. travel2vn says:

    Just lovely, beautiful photos :)

  24. Lovely pictures that make me want to go there IMMEDIATELY, Malou.

    The one with the sculpture made me laugh. We took my friends boys (age 5) to a sculpture garden in Dallas. One of the nude ladies was frozen in one of those pondering positions. MTM asked Rhys what she was thinking, and he said, “Where are my clothes?”

    • Malou says:

      Glad to know that you liked this post and is enticed to come here IMMEDIATELY, ha,ha, ha! Still have to wait a while, those rhododendrons are only out in late May to early June.

      My daughter wondered why that naked lady was lying there. ;-)

  25. Anita Mac says:

    Great collection – love the photos.

  26. restlessjo says:

    Fabulous photos contrasting with that awful news. Love your “little girl,big tree”.
    Rhodies- come on Spring! Wished I’d had my camera out with me today- there were crocuses everywhere!

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot. The big trees there are a delight for kids with boundless energy.

      So your crocuses are out now. Some of them are also starting to come out so I hope the weather allows me to go out with my camera this weekend. ;-)

  27. Letizia says:

    Nice photo’s Malou! I love the dutch flowers in spring time. And what a luck you had that day you went!! So sunny :)

  28. Purely.. Kay says:

    I completely agree.. life is fragile and we have to treat each day like its our last. On a happier note, I love these photos. And that statue is cute but funny all at the same time lol. I remember my nephew saw his first naked sculpture and he just touched it everywhere lol. This place is certainly beautiful

    • Malou says:

      Glad to know that you love these pictures, Kay. The place is worth a visit, gives you a glimpse into the earlier lives of the Dutch royal family. I am awed by the garden which is simply a pleasure to explore. ;-)

  29. What a sad story today, Malou, we must never take a moment for granted.. life can change in a heartbeat. I really loved the photos you took of the palace gardens, what a wonderland for your daughter to experience!

    • Malou says:

      It is a sad story indeed, Barbara. A reminder that we have to be grateful of the many things that are oftentimes easily taken for granted such as good health.

      When I look at these pictures, I am so grateful that I have this chance to let my daughter experience the beauty of nature and a carefree childhood. ;-)

  30. simplicitymaven says:

    Thank you for following me… I have such a passion for all things tea, which I will write about. I particularly loved your comment about the Royal Family having simple tastes. Even royalty find simplicity valuable. Great pictures!

    • Malou says:

      I love your tea posts, Nandi. I am a big tea lover too and green tea is my current favorite.

      This particular palace is the simplest of the royal palaces around because Queen Juliana in her time was known for her simplicity. ;-)

  31. Hey Malou,

    Thanks for following me and liking my blog-post :-) You’ve got a precious little girl! And your pictures are beautiful! I haven’t been to Paleis Soestdijk, but this shows me I definitely need to go this summer, haha.

    Liefs, Leanne

  32. Malou – beautiful pictures – a good way to honour a good man – very sad news

  33. jai long says:

    wow, awesome colourful photo’s :)

  34. Sad news indeed about the Prince, but i do believe miracles can happen and hope that one does for him and his family. Another set of stunning photos, I really hadn´t realsied there were quite so many beautiful places to visit..I am now yearning for a trip to Holland!

  35. giovibi says:

    Beautiful place and “splendide foto”!!!!!

  36. robintheblog says:

    Painting-like photographs, really nice! You have such a wonderful little family :)

  37. Robin says:

    Your images are beautiful. It looks like such a lovely place to visit. :)

  38. Oh, how sad! I hope that things will improve for him. Beautiful pictures – I love rodedendrons.

    • Malou says:

      Yes, we are all hoping that his being in coma is temporary though the doctors have already said that he’ll never get out of it.

      I love those rhododendrons too. They’re really quite a sight to behold in late spring. ;-)

  39. So much beauty! Gorgeous, glorious, marvelous. And what fabulous family ‘models’!!

  40. Your daughter is precious! :)

  41. Michi says:

    It’s so sad to hear about the Prince, especially when he has a wife and two small children. :( A dear cousin of mine, who was to be married in a few months (he and his fiancé had just bought their house), passed away a year ago, on our 26th birthdays, from prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain (his younger brother managed to pull him out of the car crash he was in, but it took too long for the ambulances to get to the crash site, and after spending a month in a coma, the doctors decided it best to let him go…). It’s heartbreaking.

    The palace is beautiful, and I love your Spring photos! I’d love to walk in those gardens and have a quiet picnic there.

    • Malou says:

      That’s a very sad story about your cousin. Gone too soon. The same for this prince who is also at the prime of his life and is really the one with the brains among the 3 sons of the queen. My heart really aches for her daughters of 6 and 5 who will never have their father’s active presence.

  42. eof737 says:

    Awesome photography and you have a beautiful family. :-)

  43. jooy says:

    Incredible photos! Your daughter is so precious.

  44. I love the pictures! I would love to visit! btw your daughter is adorable :)

  45. Beautiful photos! And your daughter is absolutely adorable!

  46. smallprayer says:

    I so want to visit the place myself, your photography is beautiful :)

  47. Pingback: Page not found « Going Dutch

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