On April 30th 2013, the Netherlands got a new head of state. After thirty-three years, and on live TV, Queen Beatrix abdicated her crown to her son Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Máxima.
King Willem-Alexander and his gorgeous Queen, Máxima
The Dutch Monarchy: A Brief History
Between 1814 and 1890, the Dutch were ruled by three King Willem’s – aptly named Willem I, II and III. Since then, there have been three Queens. From 1890, Queen Wilhelmina reigned as a strong queen until her daughter Juliana took over in 1948. Juliana, in turn, abdicated in 1980 in favour of her daughter Beatrix.
Following the defeat of Napoleon, after traces of the French Revolution evaporated, many countries wanted to return to the ‘good old days’ prior to the uprising. In the Netherlands, many civilians wished for the return of the Oranje-family. Sadly, our beloved Republic was not to return.
Willem-Frederik, son of the last prince of Oranje who tried to govern our former Republic, became our first king: King Willem the First. He was crowned in 1814 and held considerable power, despite there being a constitution. He reigned as a real benevolent. After his abdication, he was succeeded by his son Willem the Second who dealt with much social unrest and turmoil. In 1848, the modernisation of the Dutch constitution seriously decreased the power of the king. By 1849, when King Willem III was crowned, the power of the monarchy was dwindling. This last king wasn’t a success. He was nicknamed ‘King Gorilla’ because of his improper and idiotic behaviour. He wasn’t really fit to be a king.
King Willem III: Pretty useless, apparently!
After 123 Years of Female Rule: The Dutch Have a New King.
Willem-Alexander is the eldest of three sons. He is married to a common girl from Argentina, and has three wonderful daughters. In a strictly organized TV-interview, Willem-Alexander was asked if he was going to become king Willem the Fourth. He then laughed and said he wasn’t like Berta 38:
Fact Alert! It is a Dutch custom to name milk-cows and add a number to their names. Willem-Alexander wants to be just King ‘Willem-Alexander’, without the number.
Beatrix abdicated on ‘Koninginnedag’, April 30th, which has been a national holiday for a long time. The king decided to end that tradition and announced that his birthday on April 27th is the new ‘koningsdag’ (aka ‘Kings’ Day).
Queen Beatrix, who abdicated her throne in favour of her son, Willem-Alexander.
King Willem-Alexander has said on several occasions that he would like to be a ‘modern king’ and he wouldn’t be completely opposed to a more ceremonial kingship. The Dutch only have one state of head; however, Willem-Alexander is allowed to call Maxima his Queen. Their eldest daughter, Princess Amalia, is now officially the Princess of Oranje, heiress to the throne.
King Willem-Alexander and his family.
The day of the crowning was a major event. The whole country celebrated by wearing orange clothes and orange plastic crowns – Football fans will know how the Dutch dress up to show their orange hearts!
After the official abdication, King Willem-Alexander was crowned in the Great Church in Dam Square, Amsterdam. He wore a very heavy ermine cloak and was given the symbols of royal ‘power’. Máxima looked stunning in her royal blue dress – designed by Dutch fashion designer, Jan Taminiau. The three little princesses also wore dresses in royal blue, and the crowning was attended by many royals from all over the world.
It was an emotional day for Beatrix and her family. After the ceremony, outfits were changed. In the early evening, the King and his family boarded a boat and took a trip through the canals of Amsterdam. Quite spontaneously, they left the boat to shake hands with popular DJ Armin van Buuren, who added all sorts of sound effects to a performance of the ‘Bolero’. There were a lot of happy faces on television. Willem-Alexander and his guests ended the day with a dinner. I’m sure they all slept like babies that night!