It was January 28, 2013. Just another Monday in the Netherlands. That is, until the five o’clock news when it was announced that the Queen had an important announcement she would deliver to the nation later that evening.
For the next two hours, the Netherlands was buzzing with rumors and speculation. In just two days time, Queen Beatrix would be celebrating her 75th birthday and this April would mark her 33rd anniversary on the throne. Was this the announcement we’d all known was to come eventually? Was Beatrix going to announce her abdication from the throne?
But no amount of speculation could have prepared the country for what the Queen had to say. At seven o’clock that evening, in a televised announcement, the Queen confessed that it was, indeed, time for her to step down. She felt that it was time to pass on her duties “to a new generation.” That new generation is her eldest son and the current Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand.
On April 30th, the Royal Family and their cohorts will convene at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, where the Queen will sign the Acte van Abdicatie (Certificate of Abdication), which Willem-Alexander will also sign off on. At that point, he will officially be king. From there, they’ll head next door to the Nieuwe Kerk for the inauguration.
Yes, you read that right: the inauguration. In the Netherlands, the new monarch is not actually crowned. Instead, it is a civil affair, much like the swearing in of presidents in other countries. It even includes taking an oath on the constitution. That’s not to say there’s no crown involved. The official crown will be placed on a pillow before the king in a sort of symbolic crowning.
What does this mean for Wills? Well, for starters, he’ll be the first king the Netherlands has had since 1890. However, he has decided to stick with King Willem-Alexander as opposed to King Willem IV. In preparation for his new role, Willem-Alexander has already resigned from his other official functions, including his seat on the Council of State, his position on the advisory board for Water and Sanitation of the Secretary General of the United Nations. His wife Maxima will become Queen Maxima and queen consort. Their first-born, Catharina-Amalia will then be the Princess of Orange and heir apparent to the throne. During her retirement, Beatrix will be known as Princess Orange-Nassau.
What does this mean for the Netherlands? If the Dutch get their wish, the investiture of the first king of the Netherlands in over 100 years will do for the Dutch economy what the Royal Wedding in 2011 did for the UK. With hotels such as the NH Grand Hotel Krapsnapolsky and the Victoria Hotel in the center of Amsterdam already booked solid from the end of April onward and others raising the prices on rooms in anticipation of a tourist boom in April and May, it looks like that very well may be a reality. Impersonators of various members of the Royal Family are being sought after and memorabilia from the expected to the wacky (limited edition coins, books, DVDs, mugs, and wine, just to scratch the surface) are being snapped up as quickly as they’re being produced.
It also means that this will be the last Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) celebrated in the Netherlands for the foreseeable future. Starting next year, the Netherlands will be celebrating Koningdag (King’s Day) each April. What’s more, after this year, the holiday will no longer be celebrated on April 30th. Willem-Alexander has decided to change the date to coincide with his own birthday on April 27th.
As for the Dutch town of Graft-De Rijp, well, they’ll just have to wait until Koningdag 2014 to get their visit from the Royal Family.
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