Koninklijke Marechaussee beret badgeDUTCH

At frontier posts and at the airports and seaports of Holland, the control of foreign visitors landing on Dutch soil is undertaken by men of the Koninklijke Marechaussee, the Royal Gendarmerie. The word Koninklijke is of Saxon origin and Marechaussee seems to derive from an old French name given to an ancient court of justice in Paris, 1370, called the "Tribunal of Constables and Marshals of France". These constables and marshals were to become members of the Gendarmerie which served as a model for the police forces of both Belgium and Holland.

In the Netherlands the term "Marechaussee" was first used in a Decree of the States of the Batavian Republic of 4 February 1803. This decree was never implemented, but in 1805 a Company of Gendarmerie was set up.

The definitive establishment of the Marechaussee only came about with the Decree of the Sovereign King Willian I of the Netherlands, dated 26 October 1814 (Number 498) of which the first article states

"A Marechaussee Corps will be established to maintain law and order, to ensure the due administration of the law and to guard the safety of the frontiers and highways of the Kingdom".

In the Act the word "Gendarmerie" had been used, but King Willian I was aware that the term gendarmerie, a legacy from the period of French rule that lasted until 1814, had too many negative associations, so he crossed this out and replaced it with the word "Marechaussee" in his own hand.

Dutch MP in Britain - 1942

Koninklijke Marechaussee in London - 1942
Though only stationed in the Belgian provinces, the Marechaussee gradually increased in size:
  • A company of Marechaussee was organised in Maastricht in 1815.
  • Another company was organised in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant in 1818.
  • The 3rd Division in the eastern and western provinces was organised in 1889.
Since then there has been many reorganisations, increases and reductions in strength and of changes in authority and responsibility. Despite this the mission of the Marechaussee remained by and large the same until 1918; police duties on behalf of the armed forces on one hand and service in a State Police role on the other.

In the mobilisation 1914-18 so much work was performed on behalf of the forces that their normal policing duties suffered. In 1918 military police detachments were formed and charged with specific duties on behalf of the army. This was only intended to be a temporary measure, but in 1919 the Military Police Corps was established and later made part of the peacetime organisation of the army. This made the Marechaussee lose its tasks with regard to the armed forces and virtually turned it into a State Police Corps.

This situation remained unchanged until 1940 when on 5 July the German occupation authorities incorporated the Royal Marechausse into the civil police - the Corps losing both its military status and the designation "Royal". The provincial and municipal constabularies were also suspended and transferred into the Marechaussee, producing a single State Police Corps for duty outside the cities and styled "Marechaussee".

Outside of the Kingdom, the rightly Royal Marechaussee survived because some two hundred members of the Corps succeeded in escaping from the occupied southern provinces. During the Second World War, the exiles from the Koninklijke Marechaussee served as the military police of the Dutch Forces in exile in Great Britain and performed various police tasks in Great Britain including guarding Her Majesty The Queen Wilhelmina, and performing police services in the "Prinses Irene Brigade". After the Netherlands had been liberated the Government decided to maintain a single police corps in the country districts (the present "Rijkspolitie", State Police) and to reinstate the Royal Marechaussee as the military police corps. Since 1945 the Corps Politietroepen have been included in the Koninklijke Marechaussee. The Marechaussee was instituted as part of the Netherlands Armed Forces in terms of Army Order No 57 of 1947.

"POLITIETROEPEN shoulder title

The post-war mission of the Royal Marechaussee has been laid down in the Royal Decree of 1954, with minor additions in 1967 and 1968. The missions of the Marechaussee comprise the following:
  • To keep watch on the safety of her Majesty the Queen and the members of the Royal House in cooperation with other designated agencies.
    By her decision of 3 July 1956, H.R.H. Queen Beatrix has been patroness of the Koninklijke Marechausee. The duties regarding the security of H.M. the Queen and the Members of Her House are primarily carried out at the Royal Palaces and at other places and occasions as the circumstances require. These duties mainly consist of:
    • mounting guard at and patrolling the Royal palaces.
    • mounting guard or acting as guards of honour at other places.
    • doing escort or honour escort duty.

  • Frontier Guard duty.
    In accordance with the Aliens Act and associated regulations the Marechaussee is tasked with guarding the frontiers, including service at the frontier passage points indicated by the Minister of Justice.

  • The Rendering of Assistance.
    The Marechaussee may be called upon to render assistance to civil police units in maintaining public order.

  • Guarding the Netherlands Bank.
    This comprises the indirect safeguarding of the Amsterdam head office by resident Marechaussee personnel who will assist the bank's security personnel in emergencies and the protection of the transportation of valuables.

  • Policing the Netherlands Forces and other armed forces, as well as international headquarters and in regard to persons belonging to such forces or headquarters.
    The Corps carries out its military police duties on an international basis. Marechaussee personnel can be found at or near air bases, in the naval ports, as well as with the Netherlands forces when in the German Federal Republic. The Marechaussee also police the foreign military elements in the Netherlands. In NATO documents the Marechaussee are often referred to as RNLA MP (Royal Netherlands Army Military Police). These duties comprise
    • A preventative and service task. This comprises patrols, traffic duties, police duties at exercises, escorting convoys and money transports, but also includes providing traffic instruction to Army and Air Force personnel and to the children of Dutch military personnel serving in the FRG.
    • A repressive task. This comprises the detection and investigation of punishable offences to the fullest extent, and is carried out by the brigades and the investigation groups at the district headquarters. Commanding Officers must obtain the assistance of the Marechaussee in investigating punishable offences or serious, complicated accidents. This also applies when these investigations involve civilians in addition to servicemen.

Member of the Marechausse
Marechausse on military traffic duties
Marechausse performing UN duties
Marechausse on border control duties
During 1978 the organic strength of the Koninklijke Marechaussee was approximately 110 officers, 1400 NCO's and 1600 marechaussee. In addition 500 conscripts, 150 civil servants and approximately 60 regular Army personnel were attached to the Corps. The Corps is commanded by either a Brigadier General or a Major General who reports directly to the Minister of Defence and is in general answerable to the Minister of Defence for all activities of the Marechaussee.

Under the direct command of the Marechaussee commander are three divisions (1st, 2nd and 3rd Marechaussee Divisions) and the Training Centre at Apeldoorn. Each division is divided into three districts that roughly correspond to the provinces
  • 1st Division - Noord-Brabant, Limburg & Zeeland.
  • 2nd Division - Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland & Utrecht.
  • 3rd Division - Gelderland, Overijssel and contrary to the rule also Drenthe, Friesland, Groningen.
Districts are divided into brigades varying in strength from 10 to 200 men and depending on its importance a brigade is commanded by either an officer or an NCO.
The MP/RNLAF district in the FRG was also under the command of the Royal Marechaussee commander but was also under operational control of the RNLAF Tactical Air Command. The district commander is assigned a traffic group of trained personnel to perform vehicle inspections and an investigation group.

The following units were not under direct command of the Marechaussee commander, though the latter technically supervises the performance of police functions. These units were:
  • the RNLA MP/RNLAF District in the FRG;
  • RNLA MP units assigned to 1 (NL) Corps, namely:
    • Marechausse section at 1 (NL) Corps HQ;
    • 101 Marechaussee Battalion which comprises 4 squadrons (companies) of approximately 170 men each.
    • Marechaussee brigade at Seedorf, FRG;
    • Marechaussee brigade at Hohne/Langemannshof, FRG.
  • Marechaussee detachments at SHAPE HQ (Casteau, Belgium), AFCENT HQ (Brunssum, Netherlands), NORTHAG HQ (Monchen-Gladbach, FRG) and Naval Forces Netherlands Antilles HQ.
  • Marechaussee detachment attached to NATO HQ (Brussels, Belgium) for security and courier services.
  • Marechaussee personnel attached to Department of Defence and HQ's of Inspector-General RNLA, C-i-C's of Army and Air Force, Director of materiel RNLA, Military Mission to Surinam, Depot for Discipline and to several Netherlands Embassies.
Click here for a 1997 organigram
Military Tasks. As stated, the Royal Marechaussee serves as a police force for the Royal Netherlands Navy, teh Royal Netherlands Army and the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Consequently, Marechaussee brigades or posts are based wherever there are barracks, on or near military air bases and naval ports and with units of the Dutch armed forces serving abroad. in addition, the Marechaussee acts as a police organisation for all foreign armed forces stationed in the Netherlands, as well as for international military headquarters.

The Marechaussee's military task is twofold. On some occasions it is characterised by prevention and service; at other times its role is one of law enforcement. Examples of preventative activities are police patrols, traffic duties, maintaining order during exercises, convoy escorts and giving advice and information to commanders and their personnel. The law enforcement activities includ, for example, monitoring the observance of the Road Traffic Act and of environmental legislation and conducting criminal investigation.

  • Central Traffic Office. The Dutch road network has to cope with vast amount of military traffic every year. it is the task of the Royal Marechaussee Central traffic office to co-ordinate this traffic as efficiently as possible with civilian traffic. Personnel from the Royal Marechaussee escort all military convoys and most "out-of-guage" transports. For practical reasons, the traffic Office is based in the Traffic Control Room of the National Police Service Forces in Driebergen. A modern, nationwide phone network is used in the co-ordination of military and civilian traffic.

  • 103 Royal Marechausse Squadron. 103 Royal Marechaussee Squadron carries out police duties for 1 Division and other Dutch army units. In peacetime, the squadron consists of a staff, a logistics platoon and a number of other platoons. The activities of 103 Royal Marechaussee Squadron consist mainly of traffic duties, for which 1 Division determines the requirement.

Collar badge
Shoulder badge
Additional details of the Koninklijke Marechaussee are
  • The arm-of-service colour for the Marechausse is Nassau Blue.
  • Badge. The Marechaussee badge is a round grenade with a closed flame. When worn on the beret the badge has a scroll with the inscription "Koninklijke Marechaussee". The beret, collar and shoulder badges are all silver in colour. On service dress the collar badges are worn on nassau blue patches.
  • Motto
    "Zonder Vrees en Zonder Blaam"
    (Without Fear and Without Blame).
  • When wearing service dress, the Koninklijke Marechaussee are easily distinguished by the white shoulder cords that are worn from the left shoulder.
Collar patch
When performing military police duties as part of the Royal Netherlands Army a blue and white brassard similar to that worn by the US Army during WW2 is worn on the left arm Koninklijke Marechaussee brassard