A winter of discontent lies ahead for Western Europe, not least in The Netherlands. Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan sends a report on King Willem-Alexander’s speech on Prinjesdag.
The Dutch State of the Union
by H. Numan
Every third Tuesday of September we Dutch have our State of the Union: Prinjesdag (literally: Day of the little princes). It’s an official holiday for the city of The Hague, where the ceremony takes place. It’s as big as it gets ceremonially in The Netherlands. The king climbs into the Golden Coach, to be driven to the Hall of Knights on the Binnenhof (Inner Court). Troops in ceremonial dress uniforms line the streets and the square on the Binnenhof. That hasn’t happened the last couple of years, due to Covid-19. This year the circus was back, but moved to the Koninklijke Schouwburg (Royal Theater) because of renovations on the Binnenhof. Boy, what a circus it was!
Of course the police were, and should be, out in force. It’s the biggest event of the year, and a prime target for demonstrators. Farmers were not allowed in the city with their tractors, which is understandable. The police needn’t have bothered. The streets were lined with loads of people holding the flag upside down. The royal procession was not cheered but jeered on the way to the Binnenhof. Even worse, after the ceremonial tour back to his palace, the king appeared on the balcony where he was jeered and booed.
This is pretty much unique. I’ve never seen this happen before. Do mind that this annual event is old, and carefully managed. The streets are always lined by people ‘from the country’ bussed in by their local orange societies. In other words: the streets are always lined with royalists. However, the orange societies made a mistake. The very same mistake our (and your!) elites are making. They themselves are fairly well-off, and don’t really care about anyone else.
Those — usually — reliable royalists are mostly farmers. Or at least from rural communities. The government made it very clear that they want to abolish the entire agricultural industry. Of course they couldn’t bring in their tractors to the city, but they did bring their flags. Upside down. Something the organizers obviously forgot.
The king being booed is unheard of. The last king before him was King William III, nicknamed King Gorilla. He was thoroughly disliked, for good reasons. He was as randy as a male gorilla in heat; he literally humped everything. He also liked to show his crown jewels to the public in Montreux. Something one did not expect from a monarch in the 1880’s. At least, not so openly. He was also disliked for his cruelty and sadism, even within the palace. He took real pleasure in humiliating his staff. His successor was queen Emma, followed by Wilhelmina, who both restored the favorable image of the royal family. Otherwise he would have been the last king. His predecessors weren’t liked, either.
Okay, back to king William Alexander, or William the Last, as I prefer to call him. He has a remarkable gift for gaffes and inherited the gift of empathy and managing people from his great-grandfather. He’s a fairly decent man otherwise. No scandals. Just immensely embarrassing gaffes.
For example, the government had to recall him immediately after the first lockdowns were announced. The king had simply ignored them and went to Greece for a holiday. He owns a palace there, and a very recently purchased $$$$$ yacht. That caused a public outcry. So much so that within 24 hours the government ordered him back, and to make a public apology on national TV. It was nothing personal, mind you. He just doesn’t give a f**k what commoners (anyone making less than 25 million) think. He could consider himself lucky that he was only being booed on the balcony. Had the crowd known what he had arranged for himself, he’d be treated to eggs and tomatoes!
The State of the Union was the usual bunch of lies. The king reads aloud what the government plans to do the coming year. It was not pretty. Everybody — as usual — has to tighten their belts. It’s the economy, you know. We can’t help it. However, the government did find enough money to reward our excellent monarch with an extra half-million euros annually. And it announced it had to prioritize something. That something is climate change and refugees. Not your silly insignificant little problems. Yes, it’s them international treaties. Nothing we can do about it.
That’s socialism in a nutshell for you. The people who shouted from the ’60s until now: jullie rechtsstaat is de onze niet! (Your laws aren’t our laws!) think that their laws are chiseled in stone tablets. When they pass a law, it’s forever.