I’m jumping out of my Harderwijk Dolphinarium posts to bring you some breaking News:
Last evening we switched on the Dutch News at 6.00 p.m. to find that there was only one item of news on the News that evening: The Dutch Queen, Queen Beatrix was scheduled to address the nation on all TV and Radio channels simultaneously at 7.00 p.m.
The Press, Royal watchers and everyone who might be in the know all speculated for the next hour on what the big announcement would be, but only one topic was likely: the news that she would be announcing her abdication.
Unlike English Kings and Queens who as one Dutch commentator rather literally put it: ”die in harness”, the last three Dutch Monarchs have chosen to hand over the reigns of the job of Head of State whilst their oldest child was still young and strong enough to take over the strenuous duties of constant travel and public engagements. The Dutch Monarch still plays a strong role in Government and affairs of State, so much so that Queen Beatrix has a working place and offices close to the Dutch Parliament.
Some speculated that since not even privileged Royal correspondents who are often privy to inside information had been forewarned of the announcement or it’s contents that possibly there might be a different reason for the broadcast (with reference to the fact that Beatrix’s second oldest son Prince Johan Friso has been laying in a coma in a London hospital since the beginning of 2012 after being transferred there after being buried by an avalanche in Austria whilst on a skiing holiday.)
It was correctly assumed that even if there was bad news concerning Prince Friso, that it would not warrant the Queen making the announcement over all TV and radio channels simultaneously.
Indeed the news did turn out to be notification of abdication: Beatrix will be 75 years of age in a few days and is choosing to hand the throne over to her oldest son: Prince Willem-Alexander.
Beatrix herself gained the throne when her own mother, Juliana abdicated in 1980 at 70 years of age, taking her lead from Wilhelmina before her who abdicated in 1948 at 68 years of age.
Some Royal watchers already wondered if it might have been expected to happen a decade earlier when Beatrix’s husband Price Claus passed away in 2002, or when her mother and father passed away in 2003 and 2004 respectively but Willem-Alexander only married in 2002 and I assume she wanted him to have some quality time, less in the public eye with his new wife and subsequent new family of daughters.
Dutch Monarchs are not “crowned”, but instead inaugurated, and since much of Royal life takes place in and around The Hague where the Queen lives and works and were she opens Parliament each year or Delft where Royal monarchs are buried, it’s traditional that this inauguration takes place instead in Amsterdam and so spreads a royal event a little further around the Netherlands.
The reason for an inauguration and not a crowning is that the Dutch monarch is the Head of State but not head of the Church (as is the case with the Queen of England) and Crowning a Head of State is apparently linked only to those who are also head of the Church in their nations.
The date chosen for the inauguration will be 30th April, already the national holiday in the Netherlands called “Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day) and since this is traditionally the day when anyone in the Netherlands may hold a flee-market without the need for the usual licence, it become the traditional day of street markets up and down the country where especially children can sell their old toys for a little extra pocket money.
Himself and I are not generally supporters of Monarchy (and to spite me for this I get two of them: Queen Elizabeth as Head of State of New Zealand on my Kiwi passport and Beatrix on my Dutch one) as I find it hard to reconcile the fact that someone who is not democratically elected gets to live a life of privilege on taxpayer expense and worse, that if Lizzy or her offspring chooses to take a jaunt to New Zealand the New Zealand tax payer is expected to pick up the very hefty bill for these travels …for one of the richest women on earth.
At least the British can say that their Queen earns her keep a little by bringing in a few tourists to the UK, meantime she brings the grand total of zero tourists into New Zealand and thanks to the tight knit regulations of the Club called the European Union, no trade benefits either.
It’s not to say I wish them ill, but if I were ever given the chance to vote for a Republic, I would be one of the first at the voting booth to cast my vote. Naturally I might change my tune if Lizzy would be so kind as to return the favour and pick up my bills for a trip to to United Kingdom, hey I’m even cheap because I don’t require half the countries police force to provide security during my visit.
Whilst Himself and I wanted to watch the Queen’s address because it was a historic moment for us as Dutch citizens, Himself’s own republican leanings couldn’t help themselves when it came to light that the inauguration would be on 30th April. He ruefully lamented that technically it’s brilliant timing because Koninginnedag is probably the most nationalistic day in the Dutch calendar, but it will be an especially lousy sales day for about a million Dutch kids as all the adults stay indoors glued to their television sets to watch the Netherlands loose a Queen and gain a King.
The least they could do is to have the ceremony later in the afternoon so that everyone could happily do both but I’m not holding my breath for that one.
Of course we know what will be Page One News throughout the Netherlands tomorrow and in the next months as preparations for the abdication and inauguration take shape… but agree with having a monarchy or not, History is in the making.
Beatrix’s mother: Queen Juliana (who was in ill health when she abdicated)
Beatrix’s grandmother: Wilhelmina