Universiteit Leiden

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The Leiden moments of Princess Beatrix

Princess Beatrix celebrated her eightieth birthday on 31 January. She has a warm bond with Leiden University, having studied Law and Sociology here. Since graduating, she has been a frequent visitor to the University, to receive an Honorary Doctorate, for example, and at the re-opening of the Academy Building.

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Princess Beatrix and Mandela leaving the Pieterskerk hand in hand, after the conferral of his Honorary Doctorate in 1999.

Beatrix embarked on a study of Law and Sociology in 1956 and came to live at Rapenburg 45. She was a member of De Vliet rowing club and of the all-female VVSL student corps. Since graduating, she has returned to her alma mater many times, including in 1984 when she opened the University Library at Witte Singel and in 2009 for the opening of the renovated Academy Building. 

Naturally, Beatrix attended the graduation of her sons Willem-Alexander and Constantijn in 1993 and in 1995 respectively. She was also present when American President Bush visited Leiden in 1989. Another highlight was the Honorary Doctorate conferred on former President Nelson Mandela in 1999. Beatrix and Mandela had a close bond: they can be seen leaving the Pieterskerk hand in hand. 

Beatrix herself was presented with an Honorary Doctorate during the Dies Natalis in 2005 to mark her commitment to freedom. Since then she has made many visits to her old University: as a guest at academic conferences and such events as the National School Breakfast for school pupils in Leiden's Hortus Botanicus.

Princess Beatrix unveils the bronze relief in 2009 depicting William of Orange presenting the city of Leiden with a University.
Princess Beatrix on horseback during the WSL anniversary celebrations in 1960.
Princess Beatrix on horseback during the WSL anniversary celebrations in 1960.

Top image: Princess Beatrix walking along Rapenburg at the start of her study years, in 1956.

The images are from the National Archive and from the Leiden University archive. 

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