Queen Wilhelmina, administrator of eight family palaces, wanted to create her own palace. In the Scheveningen Oostduinen, one of the most beautiful dune areas, she found thirty hectares of privacy and the Koningsbosch as a hunting ground. The perfect location for a royal palace. This story is about the rise and fall of her dune villa ‘Den Ruygenhoek’.

Most of Wilhelmina’s life (born 1298, queen 1880 -1929) was in the service of our little frog country. She did, however, have access to no less than eight palaces for her moments of peace and privacy. Despite this considerable number, in 1916 her longing for her own palace on the coast.


Wilhelmina had a strong bond with the Scheveningers. Like her grandmother, Anna Paulowna, she was the patron of the sewing school for fisher girls in Scheveningen. The Oranges also had a hunting ground in the dunes of Scheveningen for a long time. Wilhelmina was convinced that the healthy Scheveningen sea air was better than many medicines. So her palace had to be located in the dunes of Scheveningen.

Normally, the Hague Dune Water Supply did not allow any buildings on their nature and water extraction area. But, for Wilhelmina and Hendrik, the fences of the dune area were wide open. The municipality was also flexible in granting the necessary permits. So could start 1298 the construction of her new home has already started. Wilhelmina received the key to her new home in the summer of the same year. At the same time, she also leased the surrounding thirty hectares of untouched dune area.

Photo Hague municipal archive

To be fair, the end result was stunning. With the white exterior walls and the sloping red roofs, the whole made a picturesque impression. The dune villa had no fewer than forty rooms. Wilhelmina had a beautiful view from the dome on the roof. The villa was called ‘Den Ruygenhoek’ by Wilhelmina, intended as a tease for foreign guests. Because for foreigners, the pronunciation of Ruygenhoek was often a tongue twister.

The interior of the villa was very sober, without the royal splendor. A rose garden was laid out around the villa, the remaining dune area was not allowed to be changed, but it could be walked on. With a full occupancy of the villa, this rubbed together. Den Ruygenhoek could not be seen by passers-by because of the dunes and the high fence that ran along the entire private property. At the water tower there was an entrance and there was a watchman’s house for the military police on duty. From here a paved road led to the villa. Wilhelmina also had a tiled path from the villa to the sea strip (row of dunes directly adjacent to the coast). From this strip of sea, the Oranges and guests could walk down a long staircase to the beach. On the beach, their property was closed off with a fence.

View from the Water Tower. Photo Hague municipal archive

Her place

In Den Ruygenhoek Queen Wilhelmina indeed found the peace and privacy she was looking for. The dome on the roof was the ideal place for her to practice her hobby, painting. But also through fieldwork, as stated in a newspaper 1929 a nice story about her painting antics. Here’s a fragment of the story:

During a slide show, a voice in the back of the hall: “Herrejennig! I insist!” The picture showed three women from Scheveningen, busy repairing the nets.. Oh, she exclaimed excitedly: Can I tell you what happened one time when I was working there with Ka and Trijntje? used to be? One morning the three of us were mending the nets when suddenly a lady came, creek on the field, where we were working. She had a case with her that you can sit on and another box or something. What, we didn’t know. Before we knew it, she sat perky on the chair and started painting, so with colours. “Man! it was beautiful and of course we went to stand around it; it was so really fun. Only later did we realize that it was Queen Wilhelmina (link to the whole story).

Throughout her life, Den Ruygenhoek remained important to Wilhelmina and she spent weeks and sometimes months there. This was mainly because of the healthy sea air. In 1926 During her holiday in Switzerland, Wilhelmina contracted bronchitis and Juliana contracted whooping cough. That is why they stayed together at Den Ruygenhoek for more than a month. She was convinced that the healthy sea air had accelerated the recovery of both.

In the early years of the villa, Prince Hendrik mainly came along to organize hunting parties from the dune villa in adjacent Koningsbosch. He also had a great sympathy for the Boy Scouts. Already in the summer of the first year, about forty boy scouts were allowed to camp in the Koningsbosch. Once, during heavy rain and thunderstorms, the group was picked up from the woods at 2:30 am by the Marechaussee. To their surprise, they were allowed to spend the rest of the night in Den Ruygenhoek’s attic and were served a royal breakfast the next morning. As the prince grew older, he went along less and less. He developed severe rheumatism and was no longer so charmed by the dune villa, he thought it was just a draughty hole. In 1934 Prince Hendrik died a few days after he had a heart attack.

Prinses Wilhelmina

After her resignation on September 7 1948 Princess Wilhelmina moved from the palace on Dam Square to Den Ruygenhoek. She has until her death in 1963, spent a lot of time together with her dog ‘Blackie’. After Wilhelmina’s death, the royal family barely used the dune villa. Prince Bernhard once again organized a hunting party and Willem-Alexander sometimes went to stay there with friends. The staff of the Oranges were also allowed to use the dune villa during the summer holidays. But after years of overdue maintenance, it was no longer suitable as a holiday resort.

End 1981 Juliana handed over the property and the lease of the dune area to the local authority. He had many ambitious plans for the dune villa, but due to indecision and the omission of permanent surveillance, the dune villa was visited several times by vandals and completely stripped inside. On Thursday 21 April 2019 around ten o’clock In the evening the fire brigade received a report that the dune villa was ablaze. The fire brigade could not prevent the wooden villa from being completely lost. Their tentative conclusion was arson. This is how dune villa Den Ruygenhoek came to a sad end.

All remains of the dune villa were removed in the following years. The only thing that still refers to Den Ruygenhoek is the Wilhelminapaadje. The tiled path that ran from the villa to the sea strip.

The story about Den Ruygenhoek has been written with great care, yet it may contain factual inaccuracies. If there are readers who need to add to or correct the story, please contact me

Sources: Wilhelmina and the Boetsters ,

Juliana Whooping Cough , Alexander op Ruygenhoek , Fire at Ruygenhoek. Studies:


The eight palaces were; the Loo, the Oude Loo, Huis ten Bosch, palace on the Voorhout, palace on the Kneuterdijk, palace in Soestdijk and palace on the Dam

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