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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...


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)


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