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End of an era

I was having a coffee with a Scottish friend of mine this afternoon, and he suddenly turned to me and asked me how I, as a Dutchwoman, felt about the Queen's announcing her imminent abdication. Which I knew nothing about, not having read a newspaper and more importantly, having missed her unscheduled television appearance the night before - as having taken a look at the listings, I had decided that there was nothing on.

So yeah. Two days before her 75th birthday, the Queen's decided it's time to hand over "to a new generation", and she will sign the Act of Abdication on April 30th, our last ever Queen's Day, and the 33rd anniversary of her investiture (Dutch monarchs are never crowned, as a crowning would constitute a religious ceremony, and we are a secular state). Her eldest son, the Prince of Orange, will immediately succeed her on the throne, and has let it be known that he intends to do so as King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands. Which is one of two indications that he means to follow his own course: from the moment of his birth in 1967 till last night, it was generally assumed that if and when he came to the throne, he would reign as Willem IV. The other is that Queen's Day, which has been held on April 30th since 1948 (and was originally his grandmother's birthday) will be moved to his own birthday (April 27th) and undergo a name change to King's Day, for obvious reasons.

A King...how quaint that sounds. The Netherlands has been ruled by Queens for the last 123 years, and all three have done a sterling job. Our three 19th-century Kings were less successful: Willem I couldn't hold on to Belgium, Willem II promptly died of a coniption fit after having a Constitution and a constitutional monarchy forced on him, which Willem III tried his best to ignore, behaving like a boor to his ministers and government. Maybe that's why the Prince has chosen to go by the name he was given at birth rather than by a regnal number...


( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Jan. 29th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
Wow... that really is big news to have missed! I don't think it's made the news over here, but that doesn't surprise me terribly. It's one of the reasons I love having friends all over the world who talk about what's going on in their various corners. Makes the world a much more interesting place.
Jan. 29th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Exactly! Likewise, I'm not surprised to learn that what may be big news over here doesn't really travel. AFAIK, apart from our own media, it's only been covered extensively by the usual suspects, i.e. Germany (because they're our neighbours to the East and they don't have their own monarchy anymore), Belgium (because they're our neighbours to the South who replaced our Royal House with one of their own choosing in the 1830s) and Argentina (whence hails our future queen, Máxima).
Jan. 30th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
And I spoke too soon! I just got home from running errands and switched on the local news right in time to see the story running here... I'm actually a bit surprised, but rather pleased!
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm impressed!
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
It's been on NPR, but only nerds listen to NPR. *g*
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
LOL! Well, and like I said, I got a bit of a surprise this afternoon when it showed up on our local news! Probably just to prove me wrong when I said it hadn't made the news in the US.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:16 pm (UTC)
Jan. 29th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
It was on our news yesterday and I thought of you. And also thought 'good for him' when I read that he was going to keep his own name.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
I do hope he's left his tendency to put his foot in it behind him, and do us proud. Luckily, one of the advantages of our tradition of abdication means the previous monarch might still be available for practical advice to his\her successor, for a little while at least. Or so I imagine...it's one of those 'secrets of the palace' - everyone speculates. but no one knows.
Jan. 30th, 2013 12:29 am (UTC)
Funny it was all 'there's going to be an announcement!' in the BBC website yesterday, then... nothing.

A King, eh? Fancy that.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:35 pm (UTC)
I imagine Charles might be a bit upset...
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
I heard about the abdication on the radio yesterday! I had never known that was the way the Dutch monarchy handled the succession; it seems an eminently sensible way to do so.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
Wilhelmina hit on the idea in 1948. It's been a great success since, but there's no rules to prevent our next monarch to remain in office till they die, if that's what they want to do.
Jan. 30th, 2013 08:53 am (UTC)
I heard it on the news, with a snippet of her speech and everything, and thought of you and B (also, it reopened longings for more language courses). Though it wasn't of course covered extensively.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:43 pm (UTC)
Really? I'm surprised it was covered at all!
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)

That must be as shocking for you as it would be for me were the British Queen to abdicate. Though if you have a tradition of abdication, it can't be tooo much of a shock.

Still, when one's had the same Queen for one's entire life, having a King will be a bit of an adjustment. You've made me sit an think on how much of my Anglophile identity I have invested in the Monarchy. :(

I like the idea of giving himself a new name though. Seems like a good move. There's a lot of discussion that Prince Charles will not reign as King Charles because all the Charleses before him were dicks as well. (sound familiar?)
Jan. 30th, 2013 02:03 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of giving himself a new name though. Seems like a good move.

I agree. And besides, why should he change his name, if he's quite happy with the one he's carried for the last 45 years? Apparently only a few newspaper editors were none too happy with his decision, as they'd already approved headlines referring to him as Willem IV, but I think most people think he's right to say "I've been Willem-Alexander all my life, I'll be Willem-Alexander for the rest of it, too".

Though if you have a tradition of abdication, it can't be tooo much of a shock.

Not a shock, no. But a surprise, certainly. I hadn't expected it. No one had. Later on this year, we'll be celebrating the bicentennial of the monarchy -- it was assumed Beatrix would be leading us into the celebrations. And I think she might have, too, if her middle son hadn't been in a vegetative state since getting caught in an avalanche last year.

Anyway, the main feeling I had on hearing the news that we're to have a changing of the guard is one of getting old. So far, I have lived in the reign of 2 Queens already, and soon a King's will be added to that. Who knows, if I live another 30 years or so, I might even see Amalia make it to the throne!

Edited at 2013-01-30 02:03 pm (UTC)
( 18 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )


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