Adelheid Emma Wilhelmina Theresia was born in Arolsen on the 2nd of August 1858. She was the daughter of Prince Georg Viktor of Waldeck-Pyrmont and Princess
Helena of Nassau.
Her older sister contracted tuberculosis. This caused Emma to become interested in the treatment of tuberculosis. Her fight against this disease is a recurring theme in her life, and is something that contributed to her popularity.
On the seventh of January 1879 she married the Dutch King Willem (William) III. The King was 61 years old and widower after Queen Sophie died on the 3rd of June 1877. The purpose of the arranged marriage was to get the old-he was 41 years older than she was- king a more heirs to the throne. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the King's three sons, Willem, Maurits and Alexander, died before him.
On the 31st of August 1880, Princess, and later Queen, Wilhelmina was born in The Hague.
On the 20th of November 1890, Emma was made regent, because the King was too ill to continue his rule. Three days later, he died. Because Princess Wilhelmina, who was heir to the throne, was still a minor, Emma continued to act as a regent on her behalf. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which at that time was also ruled by the Dutch royal family, did not accept being ruled by a woman, and they made Adolph of Nassau their Grand Duke.
Emma ruled with much tact, which was quite necessary, as she was a foreigner and a woman. Being ruled by a foreigner is hard to swallow for many people, and being ruled by a woman was also something not everybody accepted back then(or even now!), which is clearly demonstrated by the decision of Luxembourg. She did a very good job, and managed to repair much of the damage King Willem III did to the image of the royal family.
On the 6th of September 1898, Queen Wilhelmina was crowned in the New Church in Amsterdam. After this, Emma still assisted her daughter in many affairs of the state. She also devoted much of her time to charity, most notably a sanatorium where people who suffered of tuberculosis were treated. She started behaving and dressing like a sweet old lady, and is remembered as such by the Dutch people.
She passed away on the 20th of March 1934 in The Hague.