This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross

The Dutch

The Queen Over The Water

By the time Franco Belgian troops invaded the Netherlands at the start of 1998, the Queen of the Netherlands, together with members of her family and senior Government ministers had relocated from the Amsterdam, which, together with Rotterdam, had been a target for Soviet nuclear weapons in October 1997, to the City of Utrecht in southern Holland, which now served as the provisional Dutch Capital.

As French and Belgian forces advanced into southern Holland the Royal Family and surviving members of the Government fled north, away from the invaders, and by the middle of February, escorted by a small contingent of troops from the Dutch Army’s Garderegiment Grenadiers, they were ensconced in the town of Groningen, in the north of the country. Gravely concerned that French agents would attempt to either take the Royal Family captive or assassinate them, acting Prime Minister Bert Hostenbach urged the Sovereign to seek relative safety in the United Kingdom. Although reluctant to be seen to be abandoning her Country and people, the Queen finally acquiesced to her Prime Minister’s wishes, realising the effect it would have on national morale if anything were to happen to her or her family.

Shortly afterwards the Dutch established contact with the British Government, and by the end of February arrangements had been made, with the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Brazen slipping away from her berth at Portsmouth just after dusk on the 25th of February with a detachment of Royal Marines Commandos from the Special Boat Service aboard. Arriving off the Dutch coast the following evening, the SBS men, operating under the code word “Broadsword” went ashore in two rigid raider assault boats, where they made contact with Dutch Grenadiers who were awaiting their arrival. The plan called for the Queen to return to the Brazen (which was identified by the code words “Danny Boy” aboard the rigid raiders together with members of her family, the acting Prime Minister and senior members of the Dutch Government, while several MI6 officers who accompanied the Marines ashore remained behind in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately it took longer than planned to transfer the Royal party from their location in Groningen to the rigid raiders, and by the time the Marines were ready leave dawn was breaking, and as the inflatables headed back to the Brazen they were spotted by the French Frigate Balny, which was carrying out a routine patrol of the Dutch coast. Though unaware of the identity of the rigid raider’s passengers, the Balny opened fire in an attempt to make them heave to. The Marines immediately sent a distress signal to the Brazen, using the emergency code “Broadsword calling Danny Boy”. Brazen immediately set off  on an intercept course towards the Balny, signaling to the French that they were firing on British military personnel, and if they did not stand down the Brazen would use whatever force was necessary to protect those personnel. Following a heated radio exchange between the French and British warships, the Brazen’s Captain, Commander John Summers RN, signaled to the French that if they continued to disregard international law and interfere with a Royal Navy warship on the high seas they would have to be prepared for the consequences. Summers instructed his signaler to end the message with the phrase “England expects that every man will do his duty”, echoing the signal sent by Admiral Horatio Nelson just before the Battle of Trafalgar, a decisive British naval victory over combined French and Spanish fleets during the Napoleonic Wars.

Whether the French grasped the significance of Summers’ words would never be known, but  although his ship outgunned the Brazen the Balny’s Captain was evidently unwilling to risk a direct confrontation with a Royal Navy warship, as he ordered his ship to cease fire and keep its distance whilst the Marines and the Dutch Royal party boarded the British vessel, which then returned to Portsmouth, arriving in the UK late on the 27th of February, where Queen Beatrix and her family were welcomed by the Duke of York (coincidentally, the Balny would be sunk several months later by an underwater demolition team from the Royal Netherlands Marines).

Currently most of the Dutch Royal Family occupies a stately home just outside Winchester, where their security is provided by a detachment of Coldstream Guards from the British Army’s 32nd Infantry Brigade. In an attempt to safeguard the line of succession, the Queen’s eldest son and heir to the throne, thirty three year old Prince Willem Alexander, the Prince of Orange, lives in a more discrete residence close to Salisbury, which he shares with the heir to the British throne, the sixteen year old Prince Henry of Wales (who is more commonly known as Prince Harry). The two Princes are guarded by a contingent of Gurkhas from the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment.

Anglo Dutch Relations

The British and Dutch maintain an extremely close relationship. The Dutch have established a Government in Exile in Winchester, occupying a large town house close to the Guildhall, the current seat of the British Parliament. The Government in Exile is headed by Bert Hostenbach. The Dutch Interior Minister at the start of the War, Hostenbach was the senior member of the Dutch Government to survive the nuclear exchanges and the French invasion, and came to the UK with the Royal Family aboard HMS Brazen in February 1998. Hostenbach is supported by three other Ministers and a small support team who provide secretarial and other ancillary services. Most of these support staff are British nationals, although a few are Dutch citizens who lived in the UK before the War, including a handful of staff from the Dutch Embassy who survived the 1997 nuclear attack on London). The Dutch Government offices were recently broken into and whilst nothing of particular value was taken, Prime Minister Hostenbach suspects the French DGSE were responsible.

As well as providing a safe haven for the Dutch Royal Family, the British Government are also covertly supporting Dutch resistance operations against the French in occupied southern Holland. Using civilian fishing vessels and working in tandem with the Secret Intelligence Service, a clandestine Royal Navy unit known as Royal Naval Party 67 carries out infrequent missions to drop off weapons, supplies, and, occasionally, people, along the Dutch coast, and has also brought several individuals wanted by the French out of the Netherlands to the United Kingdom. One such individual is a man named Gerd Backers. A senior officer in the Dutch National Intelligence and Security Agency (Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst or BVD), Backers was smuggled out of Holland by Naval Party 67 in mid 1999, and is now the Dutch Government’s main liaison with MI6, coordinating MI6’s operations in support of the Dutch resistance. Backers has a bitter hatred towards the French – he comes from Eindhoven in southern Holland, and his wife has been missing believed dead since the French invasion.

The UK also plays home to a small contingent of the Dutch Armed Forces; with a small number of Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht or KLu) F16AM Fighting Falcons having relocated to the UK after Franco Belgian forces overran the KLu base at Volkel in southern Holland in early 1998. Whilst most of the aircraft have since been lost to enemy action, two remain operational, and are based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, where they are attached to the United States Air Force’s 388th Tactical Fighter Wing.

Writer’s Note

Royal Naval Party 67 was created by James Langham. The idea of the Dutch Royal Family being evacuated to the UK by the Royal Navy was jointly developed by James and myself.