Adolph Bentinck

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Person.png Adolph Bentinck  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(diplomat, Dutch nobility)
Bentinck van Schoonheten Baron Adolphe.png
Born3 September 1905
Died7 March 1970 (Age 64)
Alma materWolters Institute, University of Utrecht
Parents • Rudolf Floris Carel baron Bentinck van Schoonheten
• Maria Sigrid van Karnebeek
SpouseGabrielle Wilhelmine Hedwig Marie baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kaszon
InterestsJoseph Luns

Baron Adolph Bentinck was from the noble Bentinck family.[1][2] Unlike most Deputy Secretary Generals of NATO, he is not suspected to be a Bilderberg member.

Early life

Adolph Bentinck is son of Rudolf Floris Carel baron Bentinck van Schoonheten,chamberlain in extraordinary service. and Maria Sigrid van Karnebeek.

Bentinck attended the Wolters Institute and the Nederlandsch Lyceum (1918-1924) in The Hague and studied law in Utrecht from 1924 to 1930. His start in professional life was somewhat difficult. On the one hand, this was the result of the crisis, which made it difficult for even young people with backgrounds and relationships like Bentinck to find a job, and on the other hand, it was related to the fact that he did not have a clear professional ideal at this stage of his life. [3]

Early career

After a short period with the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (1931-1934), he joined the Ministry of Finance, where he worked in the foreign affairs department. As a result, he came into regular contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs. These relations came in handy when the staffing of this department underwent some expansion in connection with the increasing tension in Europe: in 1937 Bentinck was appointed to the rank of chief commissioners in the diplomatic affairs department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; in 1938 he was promoted to legal secretary.[3]

When the occupation of the diplomatic mission in Hungary caused difficulties, Bentinck was sent toBudapest as temporary chargé d'affaires. Probably two factors influenced this appointment; his marriage, a year earlier, to a member of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, which led him to become partner in Central European aristocratic and industrial circles, and the conviction of his superiors that a position in diplomacy was more suited to his aptitude than a post at the department. Indeed, neither the work in the financial sector nor his position in the department, where he had to prepare notes on international law issues for the critical head of the diplomatic affairs department, E.N. van Kleffens, had given him much satisfaction.

In 1940 Bentinck left for Cairo as chargé d'affaires. After a short stay in the Netherlands immediately after the war, he was appointed as embassy councilor in London in 1946. As a result of the international entanglements surrounding the Indonesian question and the consultations regarding the Western European Union, London was a center of gravity in Dutch diplomacy in these years, alongside Washington. Bentinck worked here until 1949 together with the first embassy secretary Joseph Luns. In addition to his work at the embassy, ​​Bentinck paid a lot of attention to contacts outside the diplomatic circuit. His name, which still had a good ring to it in England, gave him easy access to the leading circles in the British capital. In this period, however, he was asking too much of himself; that is why in 1950 he had to take a year off after a heart attack.[3]


His appointment as deputy secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1956 gave Bentinck the opportunity to gain experience with multilateral cooperation in an international organization. It also marked a new phase in his career: he was now part of the inner circle of Dutch diplomacy, which played an important role in European and Atlantic politics precisely during these years. In 1958 he was appointed ambassador to London, in 1963 he went to Paris in the same position. In these two centers of diplomatic activity and cultural life, Bentinck was able to develop fully.

It was thanks to his good contacts that his reports, which excel in clarity and succinctness, usually contain more information than the 'running news'. His analyzes testified to a thorough knowledge of the backgrounds. He carried out orders carefully but persistently. He walked the golden mean between an unimaginative execution of his instructions on the one hand and an interpretation that was all too much determined by local circumstances and personal insights on the other. He greatly enjoyed the confidence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Luns, who left his own mark on foreign policy precisely in these years. Bentinck was one of the Dutch diplomats with whom the minister was in regular telephone contact. These consultations were later criticized, which contributed to the impression that some ambassadors sometimes seemed to be more involved in decision-making than policy officials in the department.[3]

In Paris, Bentinck acted as an intermediary between President De Gaulle and Minister Luns, who were each other's opponents in European politics in the 1960s. Despite the contradictions between Paris and The Hague, De Gaulle appreciated meeting the Dutch ambassador and taking note of his insights.

Receptions and dinners at the Dutch embassy enjoyed some fame during Bentinck's tenure in London and Paris for the rich variety of guests and the way in which diplomats, politicians and representatives from the business world, as well as artists and scientists were brought into contact with each other. Bentinck's wife in particular contributed much to making the Dutch embassy an important diplomatic and cultural meeting place.

Despite a long stay abroad, Bentinck never outgew his country. However, the major social changes in the Netherlands in the 1960s took place partly outside his field of vision. Bentinck had a modern conception of duties, especially when it came to involving young officials from the foreign service in the work of the embassy. As a diplomat he came into his own in the capitals of old Europe. There he was the right man in the right place.[3]


In 1938 he married into the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, to Gabrielle Wilhelmine Hedwige Marie Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva (b. 1915), daughter of rich industrialist and art collector Heinrich Thyssen (1875-1947). Their children are:

  • Baroness Anita Tanya Thyssen DeCoste (1958–2019), wed firstly Andrew Rothschild (1977–1990), wed secondly to Christopher DeCoste, had two children, Baron Jarod Kenneth Wilhelm Thyssen DeCoste (1999), and Baroness Magdalene Sophie Thyssen DeCoste (2001). The majority of their holdings are now kept in DeCoste Biotechnological Engineering (2018), founded by Baron Jarod Kenneth Wilhelm Thyssen DeCoste.
  • Henriette Louise Maria Baroness Bentinck van Schoonheten (1949–2010), wed firstly 1967 Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton (1946-), divorced 1973 with issue; wed secondly Richard Thompson, divorced without issue; wed thirdly 1978 Serge Boissevain (1947–2011), with issue

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