Holland’s most celebrated birthday in times of quarantine
By PIERRE DU PASQUIER | April 29, 2020
Cover photo Kira Guehring / The Amsterdammer
King’s Day was celebrated in a new way in 2020. Photo taken in Amsterdam on April 27, 2019.
Koningsdag (translated to King’s Day) is a popular Dutch tradition filled with joyous parades in orange costumes, listening to live music, DJs, parties and strolls through flea markets that stretch through the streets and parks of Dutch cities and villages. This year marked the 53rd anniversary of the King Willem-Alexander. However, given the current circumstances and health restrictions, the beloved Koningsdag could not take place similarly to previous years. Therefore, the Royal House anointed a uniquely designed platform to bring together all Dutch people virtually. But whose day was it really; who is the current King of the Netherlands?
King Willem-Alexander was born on April 27, 1967, as the eldest son of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus. Years later, he had two brothers: Prince Friso (1968-2013) and Prince Constantine (1969). Willem-Alexander is the direct descendant by absolute primogeniture of William I, the first king of the Netherlands, but also Grand Duke of Luxembourg. William I was the heir and descendant of the long line of the House of Orange-Nassau and was long referred to as the Stadhouder.
After his secondary education, young prince Willem-Alexander accomplished his military service in the Royal Netherlands Navy. In 1987, he began studying History at the University of Leiden and graduated by 1993. Later on, the prince obtained his military pilot’s licence and took courses at the Institute of Defence. It was 20 years later that he revealed to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf about his secret life as an airline pilot in Northern Europe, a passion he shared with the Prince of Wales. In fact, Willem-Alexander served as a co-pilot, but always concealed his true identity to his passengers.
When the King ascended the Dutch throne in 2013, following the abdication of his mother Queen Beatrix, nearly 25,000 people gathered on Dam Square, the centre of Amsterdam, in front of the Royal Palace. In the crowd, hats, costumes, sunglasses, inflatable plastic crowns, giant orange hands and Dutch flags; the people of Netherlands had come together to celebrate the enthronement of the ruler who announced his desire to reign in modernity.
Keeping his promise of standing by the people, he released a letter during the health crisis. On March 20th, King Willem-Alexander spoke from his office in his home in Huis Ten Bosch about the COVID-19 pandemic. Being one of the earliest rulers to address the nation, he called for unity and warmly thanked the medical staff for their hard and life-saving work.
Additionally, even though the tradition required him and his wife, Queen Máxima, and their three daughters to celebrate his birthday in a new town (this year in Maastricht), the royal family announced this year’s festivities to be held virtually. During the whole day, the royals would feed their official social networks with as many photos and videos as possible. On a newly created platform, many artists and personalities could join the celebration live from their homes. In other words, King’s Day this year allowed Dutch citizens to wear orange costumes while listening to live music and DJs, to party and stroll through the lives on the various streaming channels from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Link to the streaming channels: https://festivalfans.nl/koningsdag-wordt-woningsdag-met-deze-livestreams/