The Dutch Royal Family is becoming increasingly modern. Its members are consequently growing more accessible to the Dutch public, and more popular with them. In the Netherlands, there are whole days devoted to celebrating the Royals! Nonetheless, many expats have trouble wrapping their heads around the monarchical hierarchy in Holland. If you don’t understand the difference between the ‘Royal House’ and the ‘Royal family’, read on. This page provides a run down of how it all works. You can learn who the Royals are, what they do, and how they are celebrated by the Dutch people. 

Members of the Dutch Royal Family

The Dutch throne has been occupied by the following monarchs:

1. Queen Wilhelmina: reigned from 1890-1948

  • Seen as the matriarch of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina is still loved by people, politicians and the army alike
  • Even her political adversaries seem to hold her in esteem

2. Queen Juliana: reigned from 1948-1980

  • Daughter to Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana was considered a kindhearted person
  • People both loved and looked up to her

3. Queen Beatrix: reigned from 1980-2013

  • Queen Beatrix is still alive today
  • She is considered more formal than her forbears
  • Still, she is greatly respected

4. King Willem-Alexander: reigned from 2013-

  • The current King of the Netherlands is warm, youthful and relatable
  • He is a truly contemporary King!

Dutch Royal Family Facts

The Dutch Royal Family and the ‘Royal House’ are not the same thing. This is how it works:

  • 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 spousesand their children. Plus, King Willem-Alexander and his brothers, their spouses and their children and grandchildren
  • The law determines who can become a member of the Royal House

The Dutch Royal House of Today

Currently, the Royal House consists of:

  1. King Willem-Alexander: the Head of State
  2. Queen Máxima: his wife
  3. Their children and their spouses and grandchildren
  4. The former Queen Beatrix: The King’s mother, 
  5. Prince Constantijn: The King’s brother
  6. Princess Laurentien: The Prince’s wife
  7. Princess Margriet: The Prince’s aunt
  8. Pieter van Vollenhoven: The Princess’ husband  
  • In theory, any of these members could become the monarch of the Netherlands
  • Members of the Royal House who marry without the official approval of Parliament lose their right to succeed to the Dutch Throne

A Dutch Royal Controversy

When Prince Willem-Alexander announced his intention to marry Máxima Zorreguieta of Argentina, tension arose in the Netherlands:

  • There was objection to the marriage
  • It was based on the possibility that Máxima’s father may have played a role in the Argentinian junta, which took place from 1976-1983
  • It was eventually decided that, although he may have been aware of what was going on, he could not have participated in it
  • The couple was, therefore, given the green light to marryT
  • his event gave the Dutch Royal Family a significant popularity boost!
  • Máxima has now been truly accepted by the Dutch public
  • She is considered an easy-going, respectable, dedicated Queen and mother to her three princesses: Catharina-Amalia (2003), Alexia (2005) and Ariana (2007)

Prince’s Day in NL

Princes day is calledPrinsjesdag in Dutch. It is a celebration that takes place every year in the Netherlands, on the third Tuesday of September. Here’s what happens:

King's Day in NL

Kings day‘ is another annual event in the Netherlands, related to the Dutch Royal Family. The Dutch call it ‘Koningsdag’. It was initially called ‘Princess’ Day’, and was held on August 31, 1895, in honor of Princess Wilhelmina’s fifth birthday. This is how Kings day came about:

  • The initiative to organize Kings day was taken by the editor of an Utrecht newspaper
  • He wanted Kings day to be a celebration of the national unity of the Netherlands
  • It went on to become a tradition, with the date following the birthdays of the subsequent reigning monarchs
  • Currently it is held on April 27, for King Willem-Alexander
  • It used to take place on April 30, for Queen Juliana
  • Queen Beatrix’s birthday is on January 31. She decided that the chances of a pleasant day of sunshine were considerably greater on her mother’s birthday. So she chose for the event to take place on this day instead!

Kings Day Celebrations in NL

Almost every municipality has an ‘Orange Association’. The members are devout monarchists, who like to arrange festivities for Kings Day:

  • Kings Day celebrations tend to be inspired by folklore and involve a lot of children’s games
  • Wherever you go in the Netherlands on King’s day, you will hear the thump of a marching band
  • In Amsterdam, people come together to sell their secondhand items. They do this on what is called the ‘Free Market’, of the ‘Vrijmarkt in Dutch
  • This free market tradition has spread across the the whole of the Netherlands over the past 30 years
  • Nowadays, it is common for kids in the Netherlands to spread out their old toys on a rug outside, and try to sell them to passers by 
  • Grown-ups typically try to sell off old percolators and other household items
  • The King and his family pick one municipality to visit on Kings Day
  • The Orange Association of said municipality gets the chance to go all out when this happens!
  • They will organize a program of entertainment and fun for the King and his family

Recommended reading

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