Royal visits to TNO Defence, Safety and Security
Even before the Second World War, there is a high Royal visit to the Meetgebouw. After the Second World War, members of the Royal Family regularly visited the TNO Defence, Safety and Security locations. A few anecdotes are linked to these warm visits:
- On November 14, 1939, HRH Prince Bernhard visits the Meetgebouw. He is particularly interested in the
‘electric listening device‘. Unfortunately, that day there is a thick layer of fog. As a result, aircraft can not take off.
Von Weiler, therefore, shows the radar echoes of church towers in the surroundings of Waalsdorp on the electric listening device.
“You can certainly see the Catholic churches better than the Protestant ones?“, asked the Prince.
“Why do you think that Royal Highness?”
“Well, the catholic churches have a big metal cross on their tower!“His Royal Highness is right.
It was already demonstrated before that the electric listening device could detect a Fokker C5 fighter plane at approximately 15 kilometers (at 15 kHz). Larger aircraft and especially groups of aircraft could be detected at a distance of 30 kilometers (using 7.5 kHz broadcasts).
- On 29 January 1954, HRH Prince Bernhard opens the Medical-Biological Laboratory (MBL) at the Lange Kleiweg 137, Rijswijk.
The MBL is part of the National Defence Research Organisation TNO until 1 April 1977.
- On December 14, 1963, HRH Prince Bernhard visits the Physics Laboratory (Waalsdorp, The Hague).
The Prince requested to visit the laboratory on a Saturday. Various staff members objected. For a number of years, the obligation to work on Saturdays had been lifted. Nevertheless, the management required the entire staff to be present on that Saturday.
A lot of preparations were made for the visit. The inside of the building was completely repainted. The bathroom doors had transparent windows on the top. The tallest of us could possibly look inside if he stood on tiptoe. The windows were replaced by frosted glass.
During the visit of HRH Prince Bernhard, employees were instructed to stay in their rooms or workplaces. If someone was in a corridor while the Prince was approaching, he had to stand against the wall of the corridor and make himself as small as possible.
Two bottles of Campari were purchased for the canteen’s beverage cabinet because the management received information that it was the Prince’s favourite drink. The management had decided that demonstrations for the Prince would be held in the canteen. Various groups contributed to these demonstrations. The Automatic Bigram Analyzing and Counting Outfit PHYsisch Laboratory (ABACOPHYL) was also demonstrated by a graduate of Prof.dr.ir. JL van Soest, the former Director of the Physics Laboratory.
Before the Prince’s visit, a rehearsal took place. A naval officer seconded to the Operations Research group acted as a stand-in. Before, he had been on the Prince’s staff for some time and had witnessed some of the Prince’s visits. He was also aware of how the Prince had to be addressed during a demonstration. During this rehearsal, the main focus was on what someone had done wrong and how to do it better. An important remark was that the Prince always suddenly leaves the route during a tour: he spontaneously enters a room. If he had liked the tour so far, the host was allowed to enter. Otherwise, the Prince would close the door in his face. He then wanted to be informed by the occupant of the room about the work performed there. In this way, he tried to receive some less polished information. Moments later, the Prince would reappear to continue on the planned route. That Friday evening. the Director walked the route several times, always wondering where he would leave the route if he were the Prince. There were two options, one almost at the beginning and one much later in the route. The latter seemed the most likely. That was an activity that was missing from the tour: printed circuit fabrication. No research but very new and interesting. The next morning the technician who worked on these circuits was asked to be in that room and have an explanation ready about his work ready in case the Prince would drop in.
The Prince arrived right on time, surrounded by many authorities. The demonstrations went very well. During the tour, the Prince wanted to see what happened at the second ‘escape’ option envisioned. He went straight in and gave the Director an opportunity to accompany him. The Director then knew that the Prince was satisfied with the tour and demonstrations. The technician in question gave excellent answers to all the Prince’s questions. A little later the planned route continued.
HRH Prince Bernhard then walked through one of the corridors which looked spic and span. He noticed that the end of the corridor was closed by a curtain. He went over and opened the curtain. The Prince noticed a large stack of all kinds of goods that were temporarily moved out of sight behind the curtain. His response: “Oh, you solved it that way.“
- HRH Prince Bernhard visits the Laboratory for Electronic Developments for the Armed Forces (LEOK) on July 7, 1965. He was subject to a wide range of demonstrations and explanations of new technologies.
- In 1967, HRH Prince Bernhard paid a visit to the Physics laboratory at Waalsdorp. Among other things, he received a demonstration of the Seacat Infrared Sensor (SIRS) system. That system was developed for the Royal Dutch Navy. A launched Seacat anti-aircraft missile was automatically detected and tracked with the infrared sensor. Subsequently, the system could guide the Seacat to its target. The SIRS system was installed and tested on the HNLMS Van Galen.
The automatic tracking system was demonstrated during the Prince’s visit. Two small boats floated around in a large water tank. One lamp was lit on one of the boats and a filament on the other. A laser beam physically connected to the SIRS automatic detection and tracking system showed the tracked target. That should be the filament. To the hilarity of those present, the laser turned around and pinpointed the bowl of the Prince’s pipe and kept tracking it. The bowl was warmer than the filament. The Prince found this ‘failed’ demonstration very amusing.
- On January 2, 1969, HRH Prince Bernhard opens the new building of the Physics Laboratory of the National Defence Research Organisation TNO at the Oude Waalsdorperweg 63, The Hague. He had to operate a small transmitter after which a large infrared photo of the new building would be projected. This had been tested many times and always worked well. Still, a technician was placed near the receiver to press a button if the device should refuse. Indeed this was the case, probably because the radio waves were very scattered by the high number of people in the room.
During the tour of the Laboratory, the Prince took the Director aside and told him that he hated tours with all those authorities in tow. He liked to have an explanation of the laboratory work without all those authorities. An appointment was made for an afternoon in February. First, the Prince wanted to shoot clay pigeons for an hour, with his clay pigeon launcher high on the laboratory’s tower. Then he could shoot high flying clay pigeons (the plain was still military terrain at the time). Then he would like to be shown around the laboratory from two to three-thirty PM. When it was already five o’clock, the Prince indicated the topics wanted to see more. The Director reminded the Prince that the visit was scheduled until half-past three and that the laboratory staff had left home at five. “Then we will make a new appointment,” said the Prince, taking up his diary. The appointment was made for March 26; the Director had to reserve the full afternoon.
- On 25 April 1969, the new building of the Institute for Perception TNO (IZF) at Kampweg 5, Soesterberg was officially opened by the State Secretary of Defence AEM Duynstee in the presence of HRH Prince Bernhard.
- On December 6, 1985, HRH Prince Claus opens the new TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory (TNO-FEL). TNO-FEL fused the LEOK and the Physics Laboratory. Prof. von Weiler, the founder of the LEOK, was present as well as other dignitaries, including the Queen’s Commissioner, the mayor of The Hague and several generals.
The Prince and dignitaries followed a tour through the laboratory. They were shown a number of demonstrations. One of the demonstrations was the Comtal image processing system. The purchase of that system had been a huge investment. The system was intended as a first step towards the interpretation and use of digital satellite images and images taken from aircraft. By placing three aircraft radar images of the Flevopolder, which were recorded on three different days, exactly over each other, a colour image could be produced. From that image, one could easily recognise various agricultural crops such as potatoes, wheat, and sugar beets. At the end of the demo, a three-star general, clearly unconvinced, asked the researcher: “What is the military relevance of this crop recognition?” The researcher was saved by Prince Claus. He turned around and said lightly: “But, General, those soldiers of yours must also eat!”
- In 1988, Mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven visited TNO Soesterberg’s driving simulator.
- On May 2, 1990, the opening day of the Hannover Messe, HRH Prince Claus visited the TNO booth. TNO Defence, Safety and Security demonstrated its Soot Meter and ARIS-VTS to the Prince.
- On Monday, May 30, 1994, HRH Prince Willem Alexander brings a visit to the TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory. The visit took place as part of the Prince’s training at the Royal Netherlands Army at the Institute of Defence Training (IDL) at Ypenburg. The Prince came as captain of Orange in army combat clothing. He was informed of the latest developments in the field of war games, trainers and simulators as developed by TNO for the Royal Netherlands Army. A distinction was made between the various use categories as distinguished at the Royal Netherlands Army (from individual training to staff training).
After that, the Prince was made familiar with the KIBOWI control stations, which are staffed by company commanders and their staff to provide operational support. For the Prince, a real ‘orange exercise’ was prepared. The game was situated in the area of Winterswijk. The captain of Orange was placed at the head of a fortified company that had to compete against a fortified battalion in the simulation. Enemy artillery shelling initially did not seem to cause any damage. The Prince, however, decided to retrieve his own reconnaissance units behind the ‘waterline’ and let the last two bridges explode to be fully prepared for an enemy attack. Violent attacks followed. After an hour, the Prince gained a clear picture of the functioning of KIBOWI, and the learning and training value of simulations.
Because the prince himself recently flew in the surroundings of Yugoslavia, FELCOP and HAREM were subsequently shown. The packages are used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force to support the deployment of their air defence systems.
The Prince then visited the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) environment which included a Leopard 2 simulator, a radar simulator, a computer-generated enemy and the Virtual-reality WSS Dragon M47 simulator. The Prince was invited to take hold of the Dragon to experience what it is like to train in a virtual 3D world.
- On 26 September 1997, HRH Prince Willem Alexander attended the golden jubilee symposium of TNO Defence Research, which took place at the Institute of Defence Training (IDL) in Rijswijk/Ypenburg. Amongst other demonstrations, he experienced a Virtual Reality demonstration of the advanced air-defence and command frigate (LCF) under development.
- On Thursday 25 April 2013, HKH Princess Máxima started the national Girls day at TNO Waalsdorp in the presence of girls from the Duinoord School and the Hofstad Lyceum.
Girls day introduces girls from 10-15 years old with science, technology and IT. The deep acoustic basin and Socrates were used for the spectacular start: see the YouTube video.
- On 22 September 2016, King Willem-Alexander first paid a working visit to the Center for Man in Aviation (CML) and then to TNO Soesterberg. He followed a demonstration of the motion simulator Desdemona (DESorientation DEMONstrator Amst) and the coupling of Desdemona with other simulators.