I have to confess that I didn’t watch the Royal Wedding at all last week,
… I may just have been tempted to have had a little look just for a peek at the dress, had I remembered that it was on Friday and not as I incorrectly thought, on Saturday, so it was only when we switched on the TV late in the day and saw it all over the evening news that I realised I’d missed it.
Since deep down it does not sit comfortably with me that some countries have an unelected Head of State, someone who got the job simply because of the family they were born into, and not because they processed the best skills, qualifications for the job or because they were democratically elected, …missing the wedding didn’t actually bother me in the least.
You can say what you like about a Royal Family being a tourist attraction, and that it’s nice to have a King or Queen, but that fact that New Zealand tax payers pick up eye-wateringly hefty bills for security, transport and accommodation for Lizzy, her family members and their entire entourage on Royal Official Visits down-under, has always rankled.
What does the British Queen do for New Zealand, New Zealand interests and tourism? Short answer …Nothing. Long answer …Nothing.
If she wants to visit one of the old dominions of the empire, then fine, Kiwi’s are a hospitable bunch and love visitors but please do it on the backs of the British tax-payers and not foist your travel bills on your hosts. If you, me or any other tourist did this there would be an outcry. (or hey, on the other hand, if everyone could do this, it would mean a massive jump in travel opportunities for everyone around the world, but my point is, do it equal or not at all.)
I suppose that this makes me a Republican at heart, and in a cruel twist of irony, God gave me to be born into a dual citizenship that boasts not one Queen as as Head of State, but two. Lizzie on the Kiwi Passport and Beatrix on the Dutch One.
Sigh… I’m reluctantly resigned to having both feature in my heritage in a very round-a-bout and distant way, and yes I can hear you asking ” What does any of this have to do with a post on historic photos that were placed around The Hague?”
The word “Royalty” is the connection.
This billboard that the Haags Gemeentearchief (the Hague City Council Archive) placed on the street called Noordeinde, shows the celebratory decorations that were put up there for Royalty, in this case princess Juliana (Juliana is the Mother of the present Dutch Queen, Beatrix)
The text on the billboard says “Noordeinde versierd ter gelegenheid van de geboorte van prinses Juliana op 30 April 1909 Prentbriefkaart uitg. door E. Noordijk. mei 1909“ This translates in English as ” Noordeinde decorated in celebration of the birth of princess Juliana on 30 April 1909.”
When I took the “now” photos, some of the buildings in the Noordeinde were being renovated, so you can’t see the best likeness, but indeed in the last 102 years not too much has changed on the right side of the street at least. On the left there have been a few changes but the distinctive building with the green spiked dome is still very much in evidence.
So, celebrations over royal events are nothing new… and this date is a little bit special since it is still celebrated in the Dutch calendar: 30 April is a National Holiday to celebrate Queen’s birthday and is the only day of the year when street markets are allowed without the need for a license. (We don’t have garage sales here) This day is called “Koninginnedag” (Queens Day) and it’s a big event all around the country.
The day was so popular that the current Queen of the Netherlands has kept it as “Queen’s Day” even though it does not celebrate her own birthday. Beatrix was however crowned Queen of The Netherlands on 30 April 1980, so the day of 30 April still has special significance to royalty.