The British Royal Family is beginning to close the light year wide gap between themselves and the public. This is thanks, in great part, to Lady Diana, and now Prince William and Princess Kate. The Dutch Royal Family, however, is far ahead of them.
- Queen Wilhelmina is seen as the matriarch of the Netherlands. She is loved by people, politicians and the army alike, and even esteemed by political adversaries.
- Queen Juliana, her daughter, was also considered a kindhearted person who people both loved and looked up to.
- Queen Beatrix, though somewhat more formal, was always greatly respected.
- King Willem-Alexander is not only warm, but also youthful and relaxed. His harmony with modern times makes him more relatable.
Some facts about the Dutch Royal Family
- The Dutch Royal Family and the ‘Royal House’ are not the same thing.
- Not every member of the Orange Nassau family is a member of the Royal House.
- The Royal Family is made up of: the former Queen and her sisters, their spouses and their children, King Willem-Alexander and his brothers, their spouses and their children and grandchildren.
- Who becomes a member of the Royal House – and hence, could theoretically become the monarch – is determined by law.
- Currently, the Royal House consists of: the Head of State King Willem-Alexander, his wife Queen Máxima, their children and their spouses and grandchildren, his mother (formerly Queen Beatrix), his brother Prince Constantijn, his wife Princess Laurentien and his aunt Princess Margriet and, lastly, her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven.
- Members of the Royal House who marry without the official approval of Parliament lose their right to succeed to the Throne.
- Therefore, when Prince Willem-Alexander announced his intention to marry Máxima Zorreguieta of Argentina, there was a moment of tension. There was some objection, based on the possibility that Máxima’s father may have played a role in the Argentinean junta from 1976-1983. However, it was decided that although he may have been aware of what was going on, he could not have participated in it. Therefore, the couple was given the green light.
- This has, without a doubt, given the Dutch Royal Family a popularity boost. Máxima has now been truly accepted by the public, as an easy-going, respectable, dedicated Queen and mother to her three princesses: Catharina-Amalia (2003), Alexia (2005) and Ariana (2007).
Prinsjesdag takes place every year, on the third Tuesday of September. The King and his family ride in the royal Golden Coach, from the palace on the Noordeinde to the Binnenhof, where the government is housed. Here, the King holds his famous speech: the Troonrede, before the members of the Upper and Lower House. In it, he sets out the government’s policies for the coming year.
Prinsjesdag is a popular outing for schools, grown-ups and tourists, who come to The Hague to admire the beauty of the royal procession and to taste the atmosphere of yesteryear.
This event was initially called ‘Princess’s Day’, and was held on August 31, 1895, in honor of Princess Wilhelmina’s fifth birthday.
The initiative to organize this was taken by the editor of an Utrecht newspaper, who wanted to celebrate the national unity of the Netherlands. It became a tradition, with the date following the birthdays of the subsequent reigning monarchs: April 30 for Queen Juliana, and now April 27 for King Willem-Alexander. What about Queen Beatrix, you ask? Her birthday is on January 31. She decided, however, that the chances of a pleasant day of sunshine were considerably greater on her mother’s birthday.
Almost every municipality has an ‘Orange Association’ of devout monarchists, who like to arrange a number of festivities on what is now known as Koningsdag. These involve a lot of folklore and children’s games. Wherever you go, you hear the thump of marching bands and other music.
In Amsterdam, people come together to sell their secondhand items on the so-called ‘Free Market’ (Vrijmarkt). This custom has spread across the nation over the past 30 years. You will likely run into your neighbors’ kids selling their old toys on this day, which they will have spread out over an old rug on the street. They will be flanked by grown-ups, selling old percolators and other household items for a song. The King and his family visit one municipality on that day – giving the Orange Association the chance to go all out, and organize a program of entertainment and fun for the King and his family.
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