The royal limousine rolled up to the carpeted entrance, and as Queen Juliana strode into the theater for the gala premiere of the film "Soldier of Orange" spectators burst into applause.
Then her husband of 40 years, Prince Bernhard, emerged from the royal limousine. The cheers quickly faded to a low buzz.
A year after his disgrace in the Lockheed scandal, haughty, German-born Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, 66, has once again begun to play a public role.
But his heady days of jetting around the world as a roving ambassador for Dutch business seem gone forever, and his efforts to reassemble his life among the priviledged and powerful bring the prince frequent humiliations.
Last month when Bernhard asked the Dutch government for permission to fly to Teran for a hunting trip with his old crony, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi of Iran, caretaker Prime Minister Joop den Uyl turned him down flat.
The government only relented when Queen Juliana intervened on her husband's behalf.
Despite embarassments like these, Bernhard is immersing himself in a new life of cutting ribbons and opening exhibits - the tasks of a prince consort that he always disdained.
Sporting a white carnation in his tapel, the prince also has begun appearing again before business groups, which occasionally greet him as though he were a resurrected martyr.
Bernhard's troubles largely stemmed from his effort to mix business dealings with his public role as inspector-general of the Dutch armed forces.
The Dutch prime minister told a shocked Parliament 13 months ago that Bernhard had succumbed to "dishonorable offers and favors" and had taken "unacceptable initiatives" in his relations with the Lockheed Corp. which was eager to sell aircraft to the Dutch military.
Lockheed Vice Chairman A. Carl Kotchian earlier had admitted to U.S. Senators that his firm had paid $1.1 million to a "high government official of The Netherlands." The Dutch government confirmed that the prince was the intended figure, but under interrogation, Bernhard pleaded loss of memory.
Masked by secret Swiss accounts and dummy checks, the payoffs were never traced directly to Bernhard's pocket. But a Dutch investigative panel concluded that Lockheed "had to assume that the money indeed reached the prince."
It was widely believed that Bernhard spent much of the cash on personal sprees and distributed the rest to charities.
Bernhard was spared from criminal prosecution mainly by public sympathy for Queen Juliana's agonizing plight but the prince was stripped of his military and business posts, and was compelled to retire from several other positions including the presidency of the World Wildlife Fund.
On Bernhard's day of reckoning the revered Juliana was showered with bouquets of telegrams urging her to remain on the throne. Politicians feared that a sudden abdication by the distraught queen might have sparked a constitutional crisis.
Many Dutch people stuck by Bernhard partly out of a mystical loyalty to nobility, but also out of gratitude for the "fighting princes" valiant record in the Dutch air force during World War II.
A number of Dutch citizens also took a cynical view of the prince's fall from grace.
"The arms business is like that," said one student at the University of Amsterdam. "Anybody offered that kind of money is going to take it."
But beneath the veneer of national forgiveness today lies a much deeper distrust of the "military-industrial" interests that Bernhard embodied. Military procurement now draws closer scrutiny from a wary press and Parliament, and big businesss deals are more suspect than before.
Intimates of the prince say that while he regrets the consequences of his actions, he feels no remorse. As one close friend remarked, "He always did what he thought was best for Holland."