The Netherlands welcomes its first king in more than 120 years on Tuesday, as Crown Prince Willem-Alexander takes the throne and his mother Queen Beatrix abdicates after 33 years.
Willem-Alexander will be the country’s first male monarch since William III died in 1890.
But before he ascends to the throne — amid a sea of orange balloons, hats and streamers at a ceremony at the Royal Palace – here are a few facts about the man who will be king.
The Dutch know how to craft a fine beer and apparently Willem-Alexander used to be somewhat of an expert in that area. His Majesty had a penchant for Pilsner (even though that’s a Czech beer) and, as a student at Leiden University, earned the nickname “Prince Pils.” The monarch’s reputation for enjoying more than a sip or two is well known, and to honour his coronation and his mother’s departure from the throne, a special batch of ‘Abdication Beer’ has been brewed for the occasion.
King of keeping it real
Willem-Alexander has no intention of changing who he is just because he’ll be king – Europe’s youngest, at just 46 years old. He’s reportedly not interested in being addressed by the traditional “Your Majesty.” The head of the House of Orange-Nassau told the state-run broadcaster NOS he is “no protocol fetishist” and will leave it to his subjects to decide how they wish to address him. He said he’s going to “be a 21st-century king” and follow his mother’s advice to stay himself.
Even though he’s trying to be more of a man of the people, there’s a movement afoot to have his royal salary sliced drastically. His mother, Queen Beatrix, earns 850,000 Euros (approximately $1.28 million) a year. A republican organization wants to see that drop to 150,000 Euros ($198,000).
The campaign, started by Hans Maessen of the New Republican Fellowship, aims to have 40,000 people sign a petition to cut his pay and have Parliament debate it. The petition apparently has a
Trouble with the in-laws
There’s always that one family member that doesn’t get invited to special events. In the case of Willem-Alexander’s inauguration, it’s his father-in-law who won’t be in attendance. He married his wife, Argentine Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, in 2002. That stirred up a bit of controversy because her father, Jorge Zorreguieta, served in the government under former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. Videla is now serving life in prison and has admitted that between 7,000 and 8,000 people were killed during his seven-year rule. Jorge Zorreguieta wasn’t at his daughter’s wedding and he won’t be in the crowd when she becomes queen. Máxima and her father mutually agreed that he would not attend.
Name that tune
A special song has been written in honour of Tuesday’s inauguration – and it’s quickly becoming one of the most hated songs in Holland. “Koninglied” (or “The King’s Song”) features an array of popular and traditional musical styles, with contributions from 51 Dutch performers.
Have a listen and decide if you’ll join the ranks of Holland’s haters who signed a petition demanding the rap-pop-ballad be pulled from the ceremony or they would cease to continue as Dutch citizens.
Apparently the people have spoken, and the song’s British composer, John Ewbank, pulled the plug.