A day filled with breathtaking, exciting, historical and fairy tale moments was none other than Queen’s Day 2013. For the first time in 122 years, the Netherlands witnessed an inauguration of a King, formally known as Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. The very well-liked, former Queen Beatrix, now 75 years old, reigned for 33 years and followed in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps with the decision to abdicate. Being new to the country, almost like an outsider looking in, I sense the country will miss having the beloved Beatrix as Queen, but sights are soaring for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima – it was so refreshing to feel the genuine love, emotion and devotion, not only from the people of Holland, but the royal family as well.
After only two hours of sleep, the day began ridiculously early (initial alarm – 330am, snooze button Xs 6, rise and shine at 4am; it really should be illegal to be up at this time of day, as I am no morning person). Holding my eyes open with toothpicks, I decked myself in the appropriate Queen’s Day attire (never forgetting the sparkles) and caught the first train to Amsterdam. One connection and two hours later, I finally made it and was ready to work my way to the front of De Dam (The Square) and enjoy my front row seat – and boy oh boy, it was work.
Part I – Signing over the Kingdom, The Palace
Just before 11am, all of Holland witnessed the first and last sights of what was then and what is to come, as the former Queen Beatrix signed over the kingdom to her son, now King Willem-Alexander. Emotions were running high as the signatures were signed by the royal family and 30 witnesses.
Random sidenote: I do have to say, the book in which everyone signed, was quite possibly the biggest book I’ve ever seen in my life. I have a feeling the crowd agreed with me, as you could hear light chuckling throughout De Dam.
Part II – Balcony Speech, The Palace
Shortly after the signatures were signed, we were greeted by the new King, Queen and Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. King Willem-Alexander gave a very warm and heart-felt speech, focusing on the work and dedication of his mother, which brought tears to many eyes. The crowd responded by singing, “Bea Bedankt, Bea Bedankt, Bea, Bea, Bea Bedankt.” Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane then joined their parents on the balcony, waving, smiling and looking totally adorable. Princess Catharina-Amalia is the oldest of the children and is heir to the throne and received the title, “Princess of Orange” yesterday – wow, not too shabby for a 10-year-old.
After the speech, we then had FOUR hours until the next ceremony took place. But even with four hours on our hands, that left no time for grabbing a bite to eat or going to the restroom – only making our way to the front. My friends and I are proud to say, we eventually wiggled our way to the second row and quickly became statues – impossible to be moved and/or shoved.
Part III – Walking the Blue Carpet
Might not sound like it, but watching the royal families walk the blue carpet to the Nieuwe Kerk was so exciting (think Oscars Xs 100). Two thousand guests were invited to attend and witness the new king swearing allegiance to the constitution of the Netherlands before the Dutch parliament. Other monarchies were represented by crown princes and princesses from the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and Japan – along with many others. The 25,000+ crowd stood silent, only ‘oohing’ and ‘aweing’ as the guests made their way into the church (I so wish I could have been in there). While all of the Crown Princes, Princesses, Head of State and others looked absolutely fabulous, Queen Maxima was radiant, stunning, breathtaking – really, there are no words to describe how beautiful she was. Can’t forget about King Willem-Alexander – he was very handsome as well.
One thing I loved was how Princess Beatrix, Queen Maxima, Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane all wore royal blue. Not sure if this was planned, but Princess Beatrix wore a dark shade, whereas Queen Maxima wore a medium shade and the Princesses an even lighter shade – maybe signifying the past, present and future? I unfortunately can’t copyright the thought, but my lovely Italian friend, Jules sure can.
Part IV – The Investiture, Nieuwe Kerk
Once everyone was seated, the King and Queen made their unforgettable entrance and the ceremony began. Long story short, the King gave another heart-felt, reassuring and positive speech, was sworn in and was then (individually) sworn in by the members of parliament.
Part V – The Walk back to the Palace
To conclude the exciting day at De Dam, we were given another blue carpet runway show, as the Dutch royal family, along with the other royal families walked from the church to the palace. Truly an amazing and unforgettable day.
Part VI – Travelling Home
I don’t even want to go there (let’s just say I missed my train stop and got a little lost). Typical Whitney.
Until next time – tot ziens!
XX – Whitney