News / Europe

Orange Celebrations as King Willem-Alexander Takes Dutch Throne

  • Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima stand inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, at his investiture, April 30, 2013.
  • Princess Beatrix of Netherlands (C), her son, Dutch King Willem-Alexander (L) and his wife Queen Maxima wave to the crowd from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.
  • A crowd gathered in Dam Square to watch as King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix sign the act of abdication in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Dutch King Willem-Alexander kisses his mother Princess Beatrix as his wife Queen Maxima looks on from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.
  • Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima leave Nieuwe Kerk church after the religious crowning ceremony in Amsterdam.
  • People celebrate the new Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who succeeds his mother Queen Beatrix, in Amsterdam's Dam Square, the Netherlands.
  • Netherlands Princess Beatrix follows the granddaughters Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia (C) Princess Alexia (L) and Princess Ariane on their way out from the Nieuwe Kerk church in Amsterdam after the religious crowning ceremony.
  • Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, center, sing hymns at the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, prior to his investiture.
  • A woman celebrates the new Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who succeeds his mother Queen Beatrix, in Amsterdam's Dam Square.
  • The Netherlands globus cruciger is put in place before the religious ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk church in Amsterdam. The Netherlands is celebrating Queen's Day, which also marks the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of her eldest son Willem-Alexander.
  • General view of the religious crowning ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk church in Amsterdam.
  • Queen Beatrix (L) of the Netherlands passes the act of abdication to her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander during a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.
Reuters
Willem-Alexander became the first king of the Netherlands since 1890 on Tuesday, ascending a throne largely stripped of political power but still invested with enormous symbolic significance for the Dutch people.

At his investiture in Amsterdam's 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, the 46-year-old monarch swore an oath to uphold the Dutch constitution and stressed the need for unity at a time of economic crisis.

"I take office in a period when many in the kingdom feel vulnerable or uncertain. Vulnerable in their job or in their health, uncertain about their income or their immediate environment," Willem-Alexander said at his inauguration, attended by crown princes and princesses and other dignitaries.

"We can no longer take it for granted that children will be better off than their parents. Our strength is therefore not in isolation but by cooperating," he added.

Willem-Alexander - who is a water management specialist, a useful expertise in a country where much of the land is below sea level - and his wife Maxima, a former investment banker from Argentina, are expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy at a time of national austerity and budget cuts.

April 30, or Queen's Day, has always been an occasion for partying in the Netherlands, and Amsterdam has been awash with orange - the color of the House of Orange - for days.

Houses were covered in bunting and flags and shop windows were stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers.

Many people took Monday off work and started celebrating in earnest from Monday evening. Nearly a million people were expected at street parties in the capital where there was dancing to bands and DJs in a carnival atmosphere.

Lifting the mood

An estimated 25,000 people, many dressed in orange or wearing orange wigs, hats, feather boas and crowns, massed in Dam Square next to the Royal Palace to watch the abdication and inauguration being broadcast live.

Blinking back tears, former Queen Beatrix stepped out onto the balcony of the Royal Palace and presented her son to the crowds of cheering well-wishers.

"Some moments ago I abdicated from the throne. I am happy and thankful to present to you your new king," said Beatrix, 75, who retired after 33 years in the role, following in the tradition of her mother and grandmother. She now takes the title of princess.

The ceremonies provided a welcome excuse to celebrate at a time when plummeting house prices, rising unemployment and slumping consumer confidence have pushed the country into recession.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the weekend the celebrations would lift the mood of the nation and might even have a positive economic impact.

The government had promised to keep the cost of the pageantry down - the ceremonies will cost about 12 million euros, excluding the bill for the extensive security measures.

"I've been pleasantly surprised by the new king, he seems to say exactly what you want him to say," said Alexander van Merchem, a student, craning his neck outside the church in the hope of seeing a passing dignitary.

"He seems like a really nice, pleasant guy." Shop owner Marcel Beurst enthused about Queen Maxima. "I'm really happy we're going to have a very nice new queen."

"Maxima has a great appearance, and she's a power woman. She'll manage things in the background. I think she'll be the real king."

Dutch King Willem-Alexander takes the oath as he wife Queen Maxima stands at his side during his inauguration inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Apr. 30, 2013.Dutch King Willem-Alexander takes the oath as he wife Queen Maxima stands at his side during his inauguration inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Apr. 30, 2013.
x
Dutch King Willem-Alexander takes the oath as he wife Queen Maxima stands at his side during his inauguration inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Apr. 30, 2013.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander takes the oath as he wife Queen Maxima stands at his side during his inauguration inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Apr. 30, 2013.
Popular royals

Willem-Alexander wore a royal mantle decorated with silver lions that has been used for investitures since 1815, although it has been repaired and altered at least twice over the past century, for the investitures of his mother and grandmother.

In accordance with tradition, he was not formally crowned because in the absence of a state church, there is no cleric available to carry out the coronation. Instead, the crown and other jewels sat on a table beside him throughout the ceremony.

Queen Maxima wore a tiara and a full-length royal blue dress and cloak, which Dutch media reported was designed by Jan Taminiau of the Netherlands. The ceremony was attended by Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, and by Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, on her first foreign trip since falling ill a decade ago.

Like their counterparts in Britain and Sweden, the Dutch royals are broadly popular; 78 percent of Dutch are in favor of the monarchy up from 74 percent a year ago, according to an Ipsos poll.

And like many other royals, they have had their fair share of embarrassing marital, political and financial scandals.

Willem-Alexander's marriage to Maxima in 2002 was controversial because Maxima's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, served in Argentina's military dictatorship more than 30 years ago.

Maxima quickly endeared herself to the Dutch, however – a poll showed she is now as popular as Beatrix, and even more popular than her husband.

While Beatrix had considerable political influence as queen, she was stripped of that power by an act of parliament last year, and the monarch no longer appoints the mediator who conducts exploratory talks when forming government coalitions.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs