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Pieter van Vollenhoven
Pieter van Vollenhoven in 2015
Pieter van Vollenhoven in 2015
Born 30 April 1939(1939-04-30) (age 82)
Schiedam, Netherlands
Residence Apeldoorn, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater Leiden University
Occupation Emeritus Professor
Organization Dutch Transport Safety Board
Dutch Safety Board
Title Master of Laws
Religion Protestantism
Spouse(s) Princess Margriet of the Netherlands (m. 1967)
Children Prince Maurits
Prince Bernhard
Prince Pieter-Christiaan
Prince Floris
Parents Pieter van Vollenhoven, Sr.
Jacoba Gijsbertha Stuyling de Lange

Pieter van Vollenhoven, Jr. (born 30 April 1939) is the husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and a member, by marriage, of the Dutch Royal House.

Early life and career[]

Born in Schiedam, he is the second son of Pieter van Vollenhoven, Sr. (1897–1977) and his wife Jacoba Gijsbertha Stuylingh de Lange (1906–1983). The van Vollenhoven and the Stuylingh de Lange belong to the Dutch patriciate.

Van Vollenhoven attended secondary school in Rotterdam, and he subsequently studied law at the University of Leiden. He graduated in 1965, after which he worked as a legal officer for the Netherlands Council of State. In 1966, he performed his military service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and attained a military pilot license the following year.

Current positions[]

Pieter van Vollenhoven is currently most well known in The Netherlands for having been the chairman of the Dutch Safety Board from which he retired in February 2011. He was originally appointed chairman of the Road Transportation Safety Board and the Rail Incident Board by minister Tjerk Westerterp. Following the Bijlmer and Hercules disasters, a need was felt in The Netherlands for a single body to investigate all transportation-related incidents; the Transportation Safety Council (Dutch: Raad voor de Transportveiligheid) was created, which incorporated the earlier Road Transportation Safety and Rail Incident Boards and also had Van Vollenhoven as chairman. Van Vollenhoven felt, however, that the country should have a single board to investigate all safety-related issues; lobbying on his part finally convinced the government to transform the Transportation Safety Council into a general Safety Board, of which Van Vollenhoven was made the first chairman.

Due to his expertise in the area, the University of Twente made Van Vollenhoven a Professor on 1 October 2005. He holds the policy research chair, which is a subspecialty of the risk management group. He held his oration on 28 April 2006 and called for the creation of a Minister of Safety at that time.

In 1989, Van Vollenhoven took the initiative in setting up the Dutch Victim Support Fund, of which he is also the chairman. He is also chairman of the Nationaal Groenfonds, the National Restorationfund and the Society, Safety and Police Association and the International Transport Safety Board. He is a member of the European Transport Safety Council.

Notable acts[]

As Chairman of the Safety Board, Van Vollenhoven oversaw the investigation of the Schipholbrand, a fire in a holding facility for illegal immigrants in The Netherlands. He presented a final report on 21 September 2006 with such devastating findings that ministers Piet Hein Donner and Sybilla Dekker resigned over it. A third responsible minister, Rita Verdonk refused to resign despite her responsibility in the matter.

Following the Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 crash, Van Vollenhoven led the investigation by the Safety Board. This investigation brought him into conflict with the Office of the Attorney General, which requested access to the black box data. Citing that there was no reason at that time to suspect foul play and that the Board investigation would be hampered by the threat of legal action against persons, Van Vollenhoven absolutely refused this access.[1]

When he turned 70, Barry Sweedler (of the US National Transportation Safety Board) said to him: "The world is a safer place because of your work and leadership".


Van Vollenhoven is an avid pianist. In 1986 he formed a trio - De Gevleugelde Vrienden - with two of the country's leading pianists (Pim Jacobs and Louis van Dijk) and gave some twenty concerts a year both at home and abroad in aid of the Victim Support Fund. De Gevleugelde Vrienden were awarded four gold discs. Since the death of one of the members of the trio, Pim Jacobs, Van Vollenhoven has continued to give concerts with pianists Louis van Dijk and Koos Mark.

Van Vollenhoven is still an active pilot and he also dives. He almost lost the tip of his right index finger during a dive in 2005, when he got caught between the boat and the dock steps. Doctors were able to reattach the tip.

He is also a photographer. The Victim Support Fund raised money in 2008 and 2009 by selling calendars with his photographs.

Marriage and family[]

Van Vollenhoven married Princess Margriet of the Netherlands at The Hague on 10 January 1967, in the St. James Church.[2] This made him the first member of the Dutch Royal House being a commoner and not of royal or noble origin. He was not given any royal titles as a result of the marriage and is therefore formally addressed as "Mister Van Vollenhoven" or by his professional title as "Professor Van Vollenhoven".

The couple went to live in Het Loo House, near the Het Loo Palace. They have four sons:

  • HH Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven (born 17 April 1968), married Marilène van den Broek (born 4 February 1970);
  • HH Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven (born 25 December 1969), married Annette Sekrève (born 18 April 1972);
  • HH Prince Pieter-Christiaan of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven (born 22 March 1972), married Anita van Eijk (born 27 October 1969);
  • HH Prince Floris of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven (born 10 April 1975), married Aimée Söhngen (born 19 October 1977).

The German house name Lippe-Biesterfeld is borne by the children of Prince Maurits (making them Van Lippe-Biesterfeld van Vollenhoven); his other (grand)children are just van Vollenhoven.

Honours and awards[]

Van Vollenhoven received numerous honours and awards in the Netherlands but also internationally:[3]

Netherlands Honours and decorations[]

  • Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange (10 January 1967)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (29 April 2004)
  • Royal Wedding Medal 1966
  • The Netherlands Coronation Medal 1980
  • Medal visiting Netherlands Antilles 1980
  • Royal Wedding Medal 2002
  • Officer's Long Service Decoration (The Netherlands), with Roman numeral XX
  • King Willem-Alexander Inauguration Medal 2013

Foreign honours and decorations[]

Honorary appointments[]

He is Aide-de-Camp Extraordinary to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.

Honorary citizenship[]

On 12 June 2004, he was made an Honorary citizen of the town of Vollenhove.


  1. Editorial board (28 February 2009). "Van Vollenhoven geeft zwarte dozen niet af" (in nl). Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  2. Royal Wedding in the Netherlands
  3. Onderscheidingen van de koninklijke familie - website Alles op een rij
  4. PPE Agency, Group photo
  5. PPE Agency, Pieter
  6. The royal forums, State visit of Luxembourg to Netherlands, 2006, Photo
  7. Viva Máxima Blog, State visit of Juan Carlos in Netherlands 2001, Group photo
  8. "Noblesse et Royautés" (French), State visit of Sweden in the Netherlands, April 2009, Group photo

External links[]

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