Ambassador André Haspels tours Royal Eijsbouts in the Netherlands to see the progress of the extensive bell restoration.

By W.F. Hulzebosch
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Just a few weeks after his appointment as Ambassador to the United States, André Haspels on October 21 of last year kicked off the renovation of the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington, Va., just a few miles from the White House.

The audience witnessed the spectacular hoisting of the first bell, one of the 50 bronze bells that are being refurbished.

The historic monument is now naked of its bells. While the steel structure will be renovated on site, the bells traveled to the Netherlands for tuning and repair.

The bells arrived in Asten, the Netherlands, on December 3 and were collected by Royal Eijsbouts, one of the original bell foundries involved in the carillon project.

Ambassador Haspels inspected the progress of the extensive bell restoration at Royal Eijsbouts on February 3. He was shown around by the CEO of the bell foundry, Joost Eijsbouts, and they discussed the bell renovation process.

“It is great to witness the restoration of the 50 bells here,” said Ambassador Haspels during his visit. “I am proud of the Dutch company Eijsbouts. For almost 150 years, the bell foundry has been a leader in producing and restoring bells from all over the world. Their expertise is unique in the world.”

Ambassador Haspels also said that the carillon is not only of musical and historical interest, but also has a high topical value: “The carillon symbolizes the strength of our transatlantic relations. Today, 75 years after the end of World War II, this remains important.” 

A symbol of gratitude

The Netherlands Carillon was donated by Queen Juliana to the American people on behalf of the Dutch people in 1952 to express the Dutch gratitude for the US aid during and after World War II.

The 127-foot open steel structure with 49 bells was unveiled at its current location, overlooking Washington, D.C., in 1960. During the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, in 1995, then-Prime Minister Kok presented the 50th bell to President Clinton.

In addition to the current restoration, on the occasion of the celebration of 75 Years of Freedom, three new bells will be cast (in the Netherlands) and added to the historic instrument to increase the range of the instrument.