Queen’s Day – Dutch readers share the view from the Netherlands

Posted: April 29, 2013 in History, Monarchy
Tags: , , ,

As the Dutch celebrate Queen’s Day and the coronation of a new monarch, readers share their view of the celebrations

queens day netherlands
Dutch Queen Beatrix in Zeewolde, Netherlands, on the occasion of Queen’s Day, the celebration of her birthday. Queen Beatrix announced on 28 January 2013, in a previously recorded speech, that she will give the throne to Crown Prince Willem-Alexander on 30 April 2013. Share your pictures from Queen’s Day and the coronation with us. Photograph: VINCENT JANNINK/EPA

Tying in with her 75th birthday, the abdication and coronation in Amsterdam’s central square will be cause for celebration and ceremony across the Netherlands with the Dutch throwing street parties and parades.

We’re keen to see your images and videos of the celebrations – whether in Holland or beyond – from national costumes to impromptu spates of orange-clad dancing to document what is likely to be one of the biggest celebrations of all things Dutch this century.

On the 28 January our Queen Beatrix announced her abdication. I watched her speech together with my grandparents and felt slightly shocked. She had been our queen for 33 years and – though I hadn’t expected it – knowing that we had to say goodbye to her now, made me feel quite emotional.

Yet after my emotions settled down, I realised 2013 was going to be a very special year for the Netherlands and I have barely been able to contain my excitement over the past few months. A coronation – though technically in Holland it’s an inauguration – of a new king is something that happens only once, twice or, if you’re lucky, three times in your lifetime. It’s an event of great historical importance and everyone in the Netherlands seems to realise that.

Most of the Dutch people – as various polls have shown – support our king-to-be Willem-Alexander and are genuinely excited for 30 April. This is illustrated by the “orange madness” that has taken over our newspapers, television shows, shops and minds. Most of us can’t wait for the 30 April to arrive, because if there is one thing the Dutch know, it’s how to throw a good party! Especially if we’re allowed to dress up in orange!

From the moment Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in January, the Netherlands slowly turned orange. It’s inescapable: advertising becomes openly royalist, papers produce countless coronation specials, television starts favoring the new king over reports on violence in Syria.

The constitutional monarchy in the 21st century is an odd beast. Succession is fundamentally undemocratic. Exit the right womb and – in the case of the new Dutch king – you receive 850.000 euros per annum. That’s over two Obama’s. We also constitutionally prevent you paying taxes on them.

With the final Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day upon us this Tuesday, I should confess I do go out with friends on that day. The party often starts the night before, because it’s no secret Koninginnenacht is even better.

The Netherlands lacks a strong nationalist tradition. During the year, it’s rare to see the Dutch flag in everyday life. Municipal buildings only carry a flag on some – not all – national holidays. Nobody flags daily out of national pride. Of course there are occasional flourishes of orange when our national soccer team progresses – and ultimately fails – in European and international tournaments.

Even as a softcore republican I recognise some benefits of our monarchy. Koninginnedag especially is an inclusive, uniquely carefree orange-hued celebration of ‘Dutchness’, without dark undercurrents of nationalism. It naturally centers around the pampered head that wears a crown, but for most people it’s just a day to enjoy with friends, sell attic trash on the vrijmarkt and get drunk. As nationalism goes, you could do worse.

Looking back, Beatrix as a symbol probably helped maintain this healthy form of nationalism, in a way a president possibly couldn’t. But I wouldn’t be a real Dutchman if I didn’t grumble about the cost.

Read original article here.


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