Dutch royal family to house Ukrainian refugees in castle
Buildings owned by the Dutch royal family will be used to house Ukrainian refugees, sources close to the family told De Telegraaf and RTL Nieuws. The decision was formerly announced later on Monday afternoon by the government's press office.
For the time being, refugees will not stay in Villa Eikenhorst, the Wassenaar home of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. Instead, space will be made available in Het Oude Loo, on the grounds of the palace in Apeldoorn. "It is expected that six to eight families, or twenty to thirty people, will be able to use it," the press office said in a statement. The rooms in the 15th-century castle can be used in any way the royal family wishes.
Officially, the deal was struck between the king, the Royal House, the city of Apeldoorn, the Noord- en Oost-Gelderland security region, the asylum seeker reception organization COA, and Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, the national real estate management firm.
Late last week, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium announced that they would make three of their properties available as shelter for Ukrainian families starting in April. The properties are in Brussels and Wallonia, as well as a building which was also used as a vaccination point in Tervuren.
During his regular weekly press conference, Prime Minister Mark Rutte was asked about the possibility of the Dutch king and queen hosting refugees. He refused to speculate on the possibility, and also said he would not disclose details of his private conversations with members of the royal family.
"That has happened in the past, by the way. Queen Wilhelmina did that around the Second World War," Rutte said.
Some 1,700 host families in the Netherlands are already providing a home for refugees from Ukraine. Those staying with host families receive 135 euros per week in spending money, while those in shelters set up by municipalities receive 60 euros per week.
Earlier this month, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima visited Ukrainian people that made the journey to the Netherlands, spending time with people at the Harskamp barracks near Ede. They also hosted people for a discussion at the Noordeinde Palace. Máxima stopped by a school in The Hague which was set up to help provide Ukrainian children with an education. Last week, she visited a refugee reception point at the RAI conference center with Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema.
The queen also launched the website RefugeeHelp on Friday morning to provide information on housing, employment, education, medical care, legal support and public transportation. The website is available in English, Ukrainian, Russian, and Dutch.