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King’s Day and the Dutch Royal Family

Each year, on April 27th, the Netherlands celebrates King’s Day, the official birthday of King Willem-Alexander.

King’s Day – the Biggest Party of the Year!

On King’s Day (previously known as Queen’s Day) the King and his family visit a specially chosen town or city to meet with the locals and join in their festivities. The rest of the nation celebrates like there’s no tomorrow, with colourful street parties, markets, fairs, pop concerts and more. And no where is King’s Day more alive than in the country’s capital, Amsterdam. Thousands upon thousands of visitors, from both home and abroad and dressed from top to toe in Dutch colours, pour into the city to make the most of the biggest event of the year. The narrow, cobbled streets become awash with orange and the city takes on the appearance of a giant bric a brac market as Dutch citizens seize the moment to sell unwanted household goods and flaunt their entrepreneurial spirit by selling coffee and cakes to the tourists. Kings’s Day in Amsterdam is the perfect opportunity to sample traditional Dutch food and hospitality, purchase some fun, Dutch souvenirs and enjoy a great party!

The Royal Household and the Royal Family

The Royal Family consists of King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, their children, Prince Friso, Princess Mabel, Prince Maurits, Princess Marilène, Prince Bernhard, Princess Annette, Prince Pieter-Christiaan, Princess Anita, Prince Floris, Princess Aimée, Princess Irene and Princess Christina and their children and grandchildren. However, only 11 members of the royal family belong to the Royal Household including King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, their children and Princess Beatrix. Members of the Royal Household have additional ministerial responsibilities and are accountable politically for their statements and behaviour.

The Dutch Royal family is descended from the House of Orange-Nassau whose most famous member was William of Orange. It was his pivotal role in the Protestant uprising against the Catholic Spaniards, that led the Dutch to independence in 1581.

The Royal Relationship with Government and Country

The Netherlands is a both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. This means that, like the UK, the Netherlands has both a democratically elected government and a royal Head of State. King Willem-Alexander, the current Head of State, exerts limited political influence and has a largely ceremonial role, performing duties such as the opening of prestigious new buildings and representing the Netherlands on state visits abroad. Perhaps the most important role of the Dutch Royal Family is that of uniting Dutch society. Indeed the Royal Family is able to bring people together and express Dutch sentiment during times of tragedy or celebration, in a way that no other person or institution can.

The Future Of The Royal Family

The Dutch Royal Family came under significant public scrutiny during the eighties and nineties. Queen Beatrix in particular, was on the receiving end of heavy criticism, mostly for her perceived aloofness. Disapproval has lessened in recent years, thanks partly to the marriage of King Willem-Alexander to the outgoing Argentine, Máxima. Queen Máxima is clearly comfortable engaging with the public and her natural, laid-back approach has won her many fans. Today the King and Queen are the most popular members of the royal family and they and their three young daughters are the face of a new era for the Dutch Royal Family.

Despite calls from a minority to abolish the monarchy, the annual success of King’s Day shows in a tangible way, just how popular the royal family remains and it powerfully reinforces their position in the Netherlands.

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