Greet Hofmans (23 June 1894, Amsterdam – 16 November 1968, Amsterdam) was a faith healer and hand layer. For nine years she was a friend and advisor of Queen Juliana, often residing at Palace Soestdijk. She became the former Dutch queen’s confidante in the 1950s, but was removed from the royal court after an affair that in The Netherlands is often referred to by her name de Greet Hofmans affaire.
Court crisis 1948–1956
Hofmans was introduced at the Dutch Royal Court on the initiative of Prince Bernhard in 1948 to treat the eye sickness of Princess Marijke Christina. This illness arose after Juliana was infected with rubella during the pregnancy. Hofmans developed a great influence on the queen, encouraging pacifist ideas. In the period of the Cold War this caused a crisis in the royal household. Reputedly it reached the point where it threatened the marriage of Juliana and Bernhard. This crisis, which lasted to 1956, split the Dutch court into two camps. On the one side were Juliana and other admirers of Hofmans. On the other side were Prince Bernhard, his supporters and the children of him and Juliana, including the later Dutch queen, Beatrix.
Outside the Netherlands, a great deal was written and speculated about the Hofmans affair. On 13 June 1956 an article appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel subtitled Zwischen Königin und Rasputin, literally meaning Between queen and Rasputin. Reportedly it was Bernhard who provided the information for the article, by which means he hoped to have Hofmans removed from the court.
Beel Commission 1956
The cabinet of Willem Drees banned the import of the edition of the German magazine and on 28 June 1956 appointed a commission of enquiry of former ministers Louis Beel and Gerbrandy and former governor-general of the Dutch East Indies A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, the Beel Commission. The outcome was the termination of Hofmans' contacts with the court and the reorganisation of the royal household.
Through the secrecy imposed on the official side and the self-censorship of the Netherlands press, the Hofmans affair took on a life of its own. Some have speculated that the affair was simply a mask for a looming divorce of the royal couple.
Hofmans retained until her death followers of the higher circles, who saw in her the personification of the ideal life: sober, peaceful, free of self-interest, and directed at the fellow man. Others viewed her however as a charlatan, an intrigante and a dangerous witch, or at best a naive figure. She was buried at Zorgvlied cemetery.
On 7 February 2004 Bernhard wrote in an open letter to the Volkskrant newspaper "with respect to the so-named Hofmans affair, I recall that the Beel Commission in 1956 conducted an exhaustive investigation. The report of this commission is for formal reasons still not public, therefore I express here my confidence that the eventual publication will place all those involved in this complex affair in the correct light".
Fasseur study 2008
In November 2008, the Dutch historian Cees Fasseur revealed in his book Juliana & Bernhard. Story of a marriage, 1936-1956 that Hofmans left the Dutch royal court in 1956 after receiving a letter warning that both she and Queen Juliana’s private secretary Walraven van Heeckeren would be "assassinated if she did not leave “voluntarily". The existence of the anonymous letter, signed by "the Action Committee", was kept secret until that publication. However, it was known that two members of former Dutch resistance groups had sent a letter to Queen Juliana’s mother, Wilhelmina, suggesting a violent solution for the crisis within the monarchy caused by the Hofmans’ closeness to Queen Juliana.
Author Fasseur said he did not know if Bernhard, who had close ties with the former resistance, knew about the liquidation threat – or if he perhaps gave the order to send such a threat himself. Fasseur was the first who was granted permission by the then Queen Beatrix to read files related to the affair, that had been kept in the royal archives along with the 1956 secret report of the Beel Commission. The long time secret report of the commission appeared as an appendix to Fasseur’s book in 2008.
- (Dutch) Cees Fasseur Juliana & Bernhard - het verhaal van een huwelijk: de jaren 1936-1956, renewed ed. (2009)
- (Dutch) Cees Fasseur Juliana & Bernhard - het verhaal van een huwelijk: de jaren 1936-1956 (2008)
- (Dutch) Lambert J.Giebels De Greet Hofmans-affaire - hoe de Nederlandse monarchie bijna ten onder ging (2007)
- (Dutch) Hans Daalder Drees en Soestdijk - over de zaak-Hofmans en andere crises 1948-1958 (2006)
- (Dutch) J.G.Kikkert Crisis op Soestdijk - Nederland als bananenmonarchie, renewed ed. (2005)
- (Dutch) J.G.Kikkert Crisis op Soestdijk - Nederland als bananenmonarchie (1996)
- (Dutch) A.Bredenhoff Greet Hofmans - occult licht op een koninklijke affaire (1996)
- "Die Gesundbeterin : Staatskrise - Zwischen Königin und Rasputin", In: Der Spiegel, vol. 1956, nr. 24, p. 31-36
- "Former queen's confidante received death threats"