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Dutch Prince Bernhard Dies at 93

Associated Press
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page B07

Prince Bernhard, 93, the German-born father of the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix whose service as a pilot for the Allies earned him the respect of his adopted country, died Dec. 1 at a hospital in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He had cancer.

The prince was living at the royal palace in Soestdijk, which he shared for six decades with his wife, the former Queen Juliana, who died in March at 94.

Prince Bernhard was the father of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. (Reuters File Photo)

Prince Bernhard gained respect from the Dutch with his service as a pilot for the Allies in World War II and his help in rebuilding the Netherlands, devastated by Nazi occupation. But his image was tarnished by a bribery scandal late in his wife's reign and by his openly rocky marriage and affairs.

Tall, handsome and active into his nineties, Prince Bernhard was a dapper dresser, with glasses and a trademark carnation in his buttonhole. For the Dutch, he was an avuncular presence throughout the second half of the 20th century.

Outside the Netherlands, he was seen as a jet-setting, charismatic ambassador for the Dutch during postwar reconstruction. He helped found the World Wildlife Fund in 1961 and became its first president. He also is credited with establishing the Bilderberg group -- a secretive annual discussion forum for prominent politicians, thinkers and businessmen -- which he chaired from 1954 to 1976.

He was born Bernhard von Lippe-Biesterfeld, of impoverished German nobility, at Jena on June 29, 1911.

He is survived by the queen, three other daughters and more than 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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