The original Queen Wilhelmina Tree (orange tree) was planted (31 August 1898). This was done to celebrate her becoming Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Wilhelmina became queen on her father’s death (23 November 1890) under her mother’s regency. She was inaugurated 6 September 1898.
Her Highness ruled the Netherlands until her abdication (due to poor health) in 1948. In contrast, she reigned for nearly 58 years longer than any other Dutch monarch.
Born 31 August 1880 and died 28 November 1962.
At the age of 20, Queen Wilhelmina ordered a Dutch warship, HNLMS Gelderland, to South-Africa. This was done, in order to help evacuate President Paul Kruger.
The current tree (the third successor) stands in Burgers Park (Pretoria). It was planted on the 15th of November 1986 in conjunction with the celebration of Pretoria’s inauguration day. Pretoria’s inauguration is celebrated every year on the Saturday closest to the 16th November.
The tree planting was arranged by the “Skakelraad vir Nederland en Vlaandere Gerigte Verenigings (SNVGV)”. The third tree (an orange tree) was relocated to the middle of Burgers Park and planted by the then mayor of Pretoria, Mr. Steyn van der Spuy.
It replaced the previous Wilhelmina tree, which was a wild naartjie tree. The naartjie tree was planted in the twenties and was Pretoria’s second Wilhelmina tree.
The first was an orange tree and the second was planted on the same spot in Burgers Park. Due to the pine tree shadow always falling over the orange tree, it died.
For the third planting (relocated tree) the city council of Pretoria used the occasion to create a metal frame to fence in the tree. A new memorial plaque was donated by SNVGV.
The tree is symbolic of the historical link between South Africa and the Netherlands. It was this link that lead to using the colour orange in the old South African flag (Orange, White and Blue). The orange tree was used in the Free State’s coat of arms.