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Happy Koninginnedag!

April 30, 2010

As in the UK the Dutch Queen’s official birthday isn’t celebrated on the day the Queen was born. Unlike in the UK however, it is not on a Saturday but is a proper bank holiday. In fact it is today: 30th April.

The current Dutch Queen was born on the 31st of January, just before the end of the month to the enormous relief of manufacturers who were counting on the birth happening in January.

The previous, very popular, queen Juliana was indeed born on the 30th of April and celebrated her birthday, on the day, every year with the ‘defilé’. Members of all walks of Dutch society (and former colonies) would walk past the entire Royal Family gathered together at the top of the entrance stairs to the palace. Each group or individual would carry gifts and especially flowers which would fill the steps overflowing into the garden.

Nowadays the Queen visits a different part of the country each year but, in honour of her mother, still on the date of her mother’s birthday. In Dutch homes nothing much has changed, people gather in front of the TV and eat and drink things coloured orange. Yes, that is an odd thing, the Dutch flag is red, white and blue but the royal and national colour, is orange after the name of the Dutch Royal family: ‘van Oranje Nassau’.

Actually last year something was very different, for the very first time ‘Koninginnedag’ was disrupted by a mad man trying to reach the royal family by driving a car into the well-wishers. Several people died, a very sad occasion, remembered in the presence of the entire Royal family on the 29th of April this year.

This year, the rumour is that the Queen will announce her abdication and her son Willem-Alexander will take over. Unlike in the UK, the Dutch have a tradition for their ruling monarchs to retire.

Incidentally Willem-Alexander, a descendant of William of Orange, is married to MÌÄåÁxima, who was raised a catholic. Unlike in the UK, there is no law in The Netherlands that bars this from happening.

To all our Dutch readers, enjoy the Koninginnedag celebrations.