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Koninginnedag 2009

Something very strange has happened, just about an hour ago. It's Queen's Day in The Netherlands, our most national of national holidays, comparable perhaps to Bastille Day in France or the 4th of July in the US. On this day, the Queen and her (extended) family are wont to join in the celebrations in various parts of the country, and this year they were in the town of Apeldoorn. TV coverage of the morning followed the usual pattern of the arrival of Her Majesty, the princes and princesses and their welcome by local dignitaries, and the walkabout through the town where the royals shook hands and received bouquets and drawings made for them by children who had been waiting hours already along the route, and joined in various activities such as golf and abseiling (some of the princes, of course; you wouldn't see the Queen climb a rope or something). After a while, they boarded an open-top coach that would take them to the nearby palace of Het Loo, where a so-called defilé was planned. Then just as the coach arrived at a crossing, a black Suzuki came careening through the crowds and narrowly missing a collision with the royal party, came to a stop at the monument in the centre of that crossing.

No one knows where that car came from, and how it could have gotten through security. The roads had been blocked off for the royal cortege, after all. The media are still referring to it as 'an accident', but it could of course have been something much more sinister than that.

All we know is at the moment, there are 14 people seriously injured, and an unconfirmed report says that there's one fatality. All further festivities in Apeldoorn have been cancelled, and the royal family has been advised not to venture out in public again today.



May. 4th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
I was very surprised when I read this in the news the other day. Obviously, the royal family feel very safe in public and its terrible that someone would do something like this. I've heard since that seven people have died. How awful. My thoughts are with their families and everyone in Holland.
May. 5th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
They've been a strange couple of days since then, really. On Queen's Day itself, most of the celebrations were either cancelled or cut short (in Amsterdam, where I was e.g., several gigs were cancelled as the artists refused to perform, though I did see 2 Unlimited return to the stage to kick off their comeback tour; and everyone was requested to start returning to their homes from about 8 o'clock onwards), and since most people had taken the Friday off, the streets were remarkably quiet the next day and the whole of the weekend. Yesterday, it was Dodenherdenking, our annual Remembrance Day, and the first public appearance of the Queen and the Prince of Orange since the tragedy. They lay a wreath at the national monument every year, and it's a very solemn occasion usually. It was so again this year, except for one minute when the crowd spontaneously applauded Her Majesty; then observed the customary 2 minute's silence to remember the dead. Although the Queen obviously couldn't acknowledge the crowd's support, it clearly showed on her face that she was moved by it. Poor woman! She seemed to have aged a decade in the intervening days (but then, she is in her early 70s so perhaps that's not so surprising).

There is a debate going on now in parliament and the corridors of power, whether the royal family can continue in their habit of going around in public all of them together in one place at one and the same time. It'd only take one determined fool to kill them all, or at least to get close to them as Karst Tates (the man in the black Suzuki) has proved...and then where would we be?

Edited at 2009-05-05 07:42 pm (UTC)