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THE NETHERLANDS: The Queen & the Saucers

4 minute read

“In the past,” grumbled Amsterdam’s De Volkskrant, “the Dutch press was blamed—and not entirely without reason —for too long concealing the fact that there swarmed about the court people whose heads were too much in the clouds.” The Dutch press could hardly be accused of concealing the facts last week. Once again, Queen Juliana’s weakness for the preternatural had landed her back in the headlines: she had invited to the palace a crackpot from California who numbered among his friends men from Mars, Venus and other solar-system suburbs. Both court and Cabinet pleaded, but the Queen would not be budged. “A hostess,” said she in refusing to cancel the audience, “cannot slam the door in the face of her guests.”

The guest in question was Polish-born George Adamski, 68, who until several years ago ran a humble hamburger stand at the foot of California’s Palomar mountain. Then one day he happened to meet a courteous and high-domed gentleman, and the gentleman was from the planet Venus. One thing led to another, and some time later a man from Mars and another from Saturn asked him in a hotel lobby if he would like to take a spin in space. The trip aloft included refreshments (“a small glass of colorless liquid”) with an “incredibly lovely” blonde named Kalna and an equally lovely brunette named Ilmuth. It ended with a reassuring lecture up there from a great teacher (“No, my son, your world is not the lowest in development in the universe”). Thereafter, space-traveling George styled himself “philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher.”

Word from Flying Objects. Unhappily, he took no other earthling along on his subsequent space jaunts, and his photographs invariably turned out a bit murky because of atmospheric interference, naturally. But his first book (Flying Saucers Have Landed) sold nearly 100,000 copies, and this year he went on a worldwide lecture tour. In England last month, he got a letter from the lady head of the Dutch Unidentified Flying Objects Society, saying that she had received a call from the palace “that the Queen would like to receive you.”

Without wasting a minute, George tipped off a London newspaper. When the news hit The Hague, the court hit the ceiling: the whole thing was too reminiscent of the Queen’s strange attachment for Greet Hofmans, the faith healer who became a sort of a nuisance in the palace (TIME, June 25, 1956). Unable to dissuade the Queen from granting the audience, her advisers hit upon a scheme that at least might assure the nation that she would not succumb to any spell again. It surrounded her with a protective guard of some of the nation’s top air force and scientific men.

Impassive? Interested? On the appointed day last week, a royal limousine called for Adamski and whisked him to the palace. For the benefit of the Queen, he repeated some of his adventures, told of a California girl he knew who eloped with a Venusian and was never seen again. Each distinguished gentleman present had his own version of the visitor’s reception. “The man’s a pathological case,” said the Air Force Chief of Staff, Lieut. General Heye Schaper. Said President Cornelis Kolff of the Dutch Aeronautical Association: “The Queen showed an extraordinary interest in the whole subject.” “The Queen,” said Professor Maarten Rooy of the University of Amsterdam, “sat impassive—a hostess who does not want to offend a guest.”

But all the Queen’s men could not make the audience seem any the more palatable. “A shame for our country,” cried Amsterdam’s Het Vrije Volk.

In London, Buckingham Palace moved with the speed of light to scotch rumors that the Duke of Edinburgh might invite Adamski around to see his Queen: “The royal family has decided that it cannot entertain Mr. Adamski or his ideas in any way.”

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