The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee safeguards the security of the State, both in the Netherlands and further afield. It is deployed globally at locations of strategic importance: from royal palaces to the external borders of Europe, and from airports in the Netherlands to theatres of war and crisis areas all over the world. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee is deployable for security in any situation at home and abroad, especially when the going gets tough.
On October 26th 1814, the ‘Corps de Maréchaussée’ was established by King William I in order to replace the French Gendarmerie. During the French occupation, the word ‘gendarmerie’ had gained a negative connotation, therefore King William I called the new force "Maréchaussée". (Marechaussee is an alternate French word for ‘gendarmerie’).
At that time, the Royal Marechaussee was a part of the army and tasked with maintaining public order, law enforcement and safeguarding the main roads. Although not specifically mentioned, this included police duties for the army. As such, the Royal Marechaussee was also part of the national police. The Royal Marechaussee was the only police force in many small municipalities, especially in the southern provinces of Limburg and North Brabant.
In 1908, Queen Wilhelmina assigned the Royal Marechaussee the task of guarding the royal palaces, which previously was performed by gardeners. To this day, guarding a palace is called "klompendienst" (cloq service).
On July 5, 1940, the German occupation government merged the Royal Marechaussee with the rijksveldwacht and the gemeenteveldwacht. Due to this, the Royal Marechaussee lost its military status and the predicate Royal. These changes did not apply to the Royal Marechaussee outside occupied Dutch territory. About 200 Marechaussees guarded the Royal Family and the Dutch government-in-exile and provided military police services to the Princess Irene Brigade, a brigade formed in the United Kingdom, consisting of Dutch soldiers.
After World War II, the Royal Marechaussee was split into a National Police Corps and the Royal Marechaussee, which regained its military status. The main tasks for the Marechaussee since then have been border protection, military police and guard duties.
On July 3, 1956, Princess Beatrix became patroness of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee.
In 1994, the national and municipal police forces were merged into 25 regional police forces. At that time, the Police- and security tasks at the airports were handed over to the Royal Marechaussee. In 1998, the Marechaussee became a separate Service within the armed forces.
The present Royal Marechaussee is a police organization with a military status, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, but mostly working for the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The Royal Marechaussee performs the following duties:
- Assistance to and replacement of the Police when needed;
- Fighting illegal immigration;
- Fighting international crime;
- Protecting national borders;
- Guarding the royal palaces and the house of the Prime minister;
- Military police functions for the Dutch armed forces as well for international armed forces while present in the Netherlands;
- Crowd- and riot control and protection;
- Security and police duties at all civilian airports;
- VIP close protection including the Royal Family and high-ranking government officials;
- Special Protection Assignments;
- Special units for arrests, surveillance and protection.
The emblem of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee is, as with many other gendarmerie forces, a flaming grenade.