Princess Tulip Sculpture

This privately funded work was provided to the Shaw Centre by the Canadian Tulip Legacy to commemorate the birth in Ottawa during the Second World War of Dutch Princess Margriet, the only royal personage ever born in North America.  


In this artist’s conception, Princess Juliana, who later became Queen of the Netherlands, is depicted with infant Princess Margriet in an oversized tulip setting designed to invite visitors to sit with them.  The artist’s interpretation portrays the joy and hope of new life in the arms of a mother serenely composed yet mindful of the weight of circumstance far from home in a perilous time.


The “Princess” evokes part of Canada’s “Tulip Legacy” story when Ottawa provided safe haven for members of the Dutch Royal Family and Canadian troops went on to lead the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.  At the end of the war, the Netherlands made a gift of tulips to the people of Canada in an expression of friendship that has grown into an enduring legacy.   

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Over the decades the National Capital Commission, as Official Gardener of Canada’s Capital, preserved this legacy by curating, expanding, and showcasing tulips in its gardens.  Malak Karsh, brother of renowned photographer Joseph Karsh, popularized these displays in photos that found their way around the world.   This inspired the Ottawa Board of Trade to establish an annual tulip festival, which has now operated continuously for more than 60 years, attracting visitors from around the world including Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents.  In 2001 the tulip became Ottawa’s official flower and is recognized as an iconic symbol of Canada’s Capital.


In 2002 the Canadian Tulip Festival extended this symbol of friendship to other nations with an international Tulip Friendship Garden program, inaugurated by Princess Margriet herself in Ottawa.   This led in turn to the establishment of an International Tulip Summit Society and the designation of a World Friendship Tulip being planted around the world.