A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The big news was announced a few weeks ago that after a reign of over thirty years, the much loved Queen Beatrix will be resigning in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander on April 30th 2013. This led me to doing a little research on the monarchy of The Netherlands…
The Dutch monarchy is progressive in many ways. For example, the heir is determined by cognatic primogeniture i.e. the first born, rather than the eldest male. Furthermore, the constitution refers to the monarch of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as ‘The King’ whether male or female. Abdication is a monarch’s prerogative; there is no stigma of failure surrounding it. The Dutch monarch is not crowned; the monarch’s swearing of the oath constitutes his acceptance of the throne. The monarch ascends immediately after the previous monarch ceases to reign; the swearing-in only constitutes acceptance in public.
However, it is a monarchy and in some respects must remain conservative. Any heir apparent who marries without the permission of the States-General loses the right of succession. This law historically relates to the prevention of the heir marrying a Catholic to prevent the return of Spanish rule. I imagine this is no longer the case since it’s hard to imagine Spaniards still have expansionist ambitions towards The Netherlands. Currently the rule is used to prevent ‘truly objectionable royal consorts’, though how this rule is interpreted I don’t know. The monarch receives an annual stipend from the kingdom. The current recipients of royal stipends are Queen Beatrix (€813,000 in the 2009 budget), Prince Willem-Alexander (the heir-apparent; €241,000 in the 2009 budget) and Princess Máxima (wife of Prince Willem-Alexander; €241,000 in the 2009 budget). The monarch has the use of Huis ten Bosch as a residence and Noordeinde Palace as a work palace. In addition the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is also at the disposal of the monarch as is Soestdijk Palace. The monarch has the use of an airplane and a train for state visits and also has a small fleet of cars available, on which he may display the royal standard.
Popular support for the monarchy has consistently been above 85% since the mid-1990s and reached a peak with the marriage of Prince Willem-Alexander to Princess Máxima in 2002. Prince Willem-Alexander would be the equivalent of the British Prince Harry (though somewhat tamer). He became popularly known as “Prins Pils” (“Prince Lager”) after being photographed drinking beer as a student and once drove his car into a ditch while in university.
On 30 April 2013 Willem-Alexander will become the new king and will be sworn in and inaugurated in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, in a session of the Dutch General Estates. Other than on Queen’s Day the royal family are rarely in the public eye so this should be quite an event!