James Bond was Dutch

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The celebrated film spy James Bond (codename 007), initially created by writer Ian Fleming in 1953, was based on Dutch resistance hero Peter Tazelaar. The claim is made in a book out this week, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949, by British historian Keith Jeffery.

Mr Tazelaar was serving with the British intelligence service MI6 in 1941. In one operation, a boat delivered him to a point at sea, just off the Dutch coast near the resort of Scheveningen. He swam to the shore, removed his wetsuit to reveal fashionable clothing beneath, and walked straight to his appointment at the chic Kurhaus hotel. The scene was later replicated by the Bond character in the film Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery.

Operations worthy of Bond
Mr Tazelaar was involved in other Second World War operations worthy of James Bond. In 1944, he was awarded the highest Dutch military honour (the Military Order of William) for bravery.

In the Netherlands, he is best known because of the film Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange). The movie is partly based on his wartime exploits, but more so those of the even more celebrated Dutch resistance hero, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

Mr Tazelaar was, like the Bond character, a notorious ladies’ man. A biography of him by Dutch historian Victor Laurentius, which was published last year, also said the Bond character was partially based on him. He died in 1993 aged 73.

Prince Bernhard
Ian Fleming, who wrote the original James Bond books, was himself an intelligence officer in World War II. There have been claims that his 007 character was based on Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (Queen Beatrix's father). Fleming never revealed who inspired his elegant hero. What is definite is that Prince Bernhard, whose family name was Von Lippe-Biesterfeld, does appear in one of his books as the aristocratic dandy, Count Lippe.