As required by Dutch law, Beatrix and Claus were married at a civil ceremony prior to the religious service. The couple traveled first to the Amsterdam Town Hall in the 1898 golden coach used for the coronation of Beatrix’s grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina. The Westerkerk bells rang and canons fired as the two made their way to the hall.
Orange, blue, and red flowers representing the Dutch flag decorated the interior of the Amsterdam Town Hall. The brief ceremony, conducted by Mayor Dr. Gijsbert Van Hall, concluded with Beatrix, Claus, and their witnesses signing the marriage certificate in front of a group of personal guests.
The coach carrying Beatrix and Claus continued from the town hall to the religious wedding at the renovated Westerkerk. The procession was about a mile in length, shorter than most other royal weddings. This was due in part to the caution over possible unrest and concern for the safety of the couple, their guests, and spectators.
Queen Juliana, Prince Bernhard, and Mrs. von Amsberg traveled to the wedding in a glass coach, while eleven cars carried various royal guests.
An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 spectators lined the streets to watch the processional. The crowd was unusually light for a royal wedding. People were kept home possibly due to the controversy surrounding Claus, the cool and rainy weather, and television broadcast.
Claus and Beatrix entered the church to the French hymn of “A toi la glorie,” set to music by Handel.
The signed marriage certificate from the civil wedding was presented to the clergy at the start of the religious service. The ceremony was conducted by Reverend Johannes Hendrik Sillevis Smitt, who urged the couple not to take the outcry over their wedding to heart. Reverend Hendrik Jan Kater conducted the closing prayer, calling for God to look after everyone, and for greater understanding between the Dutch Christian and Jewish populations.
Beatrix and Claus whispered and smiled to one another several times during the 75 minute religious service. The word “obey” was not used during the civil or the religious ceremony, possibly due to Beatrix’s prominent status or to the changing views on a woman’s role within marriage. When Beatrix had difficulty putting on Claus’ ring, he pushed it on the rest of the way himself and the two shared a chuckle.
There was also some interest in the wedding within Canada as Beatrix had lived in the country as a young child. Canada was also rumored to be a possible honeymoon destination for the couple. Rallies were held in some of the larger Canadian cities to celebrate the event.
After the religious wedding, the couple entered the 1898 coronation coach and headed back to the royal palace, waving to spectators along the way.