In 1760, Pieter de Swart designed a house on the Lange Voorhout for Anthony Patras. Patras was mayor of the Friesian town Sloten and the States General representative. The building was finally bought in 1796 by Archibald Hope. The Hope family was at the time the financer of the European nobility and was known to lend money to both parties of a conflict for their war faring. It is then also perhaps no accident that Napoleon on his travels through our country stayed here for 14 hours in 1811.
Queen Emma bought the building in 1896 with the legacy from her brother-in-law Prince Hendrik, nicknamed the Seafarer. She had it extensively rebuilt before, in 1901, coming here after the marriage of Queen Wilhelmina. Part of her renovation was a new staircase up to the first floor with a copper rail that at the time had to be polished to a high shine each week. Her majesty was always very precise about this.
The beautiful staircase appears to go up to the second floor, but this is an optical illusion. The staircase only reaches the first floor. This was also a good thing since, when Queen Emma was in residence, only three people could use it; her majesty and her two most important ladies in waiting. Since the queen did not have any chambers on the second floor, there was no need for a beautiful staircase up to it.
All the other residents of the palace were hidden away in invisible staircases. The servants had to use the staircase that runs behind all the doors on the left side of the building. This is still used by visitors and the current staff.
Queen Emma converted the garden room into a ballroom, the skylight in the hall was given beautiful stained glass windows and paintings were placed above the doors in various chambers. Her Majesty even had – very modern for the end of the 19th century – hot running water in her bathroom.
Queen Emma used the palace as a winter palace; in the summer she stayed at Soestdijk. The building was mostly a working palace for princesses Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Queen Juliana was the first queen to start her ride in the golden coach from the palace at the opening of the States General on Prince’s Day. Famous is the traditional hand waving of the royal family on the small golden balcony at the front of the building. This balcony may, however, no longer be used.
Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus worked here until the Palace at Noordeinde was made suitable as a working palace. In 1990, the family sold the building to the Local Authority of The Hague on condition that it would only be used for cultural activities.
The Local Authority of The Hague Museum held exhibitions with great success of the works of Rodin, Frida Kahlo and Venetian glass. The permanent M.C. Escher retrospective exhibition has been here since November 2002.
When visiting The Hague and Het Paleis you can walk our Royal Walking tour and see the Palaces of The Hague.