Orange is the color of the day. Orange is the only color that counts in The Netherlands right now. If you have a phobia about orange or simply just hate the color, you are in big trouble. On Tuesday, April 30, there will a big change in this country. There will be a king, not a queen. Orange is the official color of Holland and the royal family, so you can buy practically anything in orange. The city of Amsterdam, where the investiture will take place, is preparing for this very big party/celebration. They are expecting 800,000 people to come into the city on this one day, that is not including all the people who are already there.


So what is the big deal? Queen Beatrix has abdicated, after 33 years of wearing the crown. In abdicating, she gives her 46 year old son, Willem-Alexander, the chance to be king. This seems to be a family tradition, of taking a retirement from being queen. Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948, Queen Juliana abdicated in 1980 and now Beatrix has left the building too.

There were three kings first: King Willem I, King Willem II and King Willem III. So guess what? Willem-Alexander does not want to be called number four. There will be no number after his name. He is known as Alex to all his friends and citizens. He will always have his official name, but he likes being known as Alex.

On April 30, which is already an annual holiday in The Netherlands, because it is the Queen’s birthday, she hands over the very heavy crown to her son. As in true Dutch fashion, there will not be a lot of pomp and circumstance, but a lot of partying. Compared to the formality of royal events in England, the Dutch are pretty low key. When I first heard this sentence: “the Queen has abdicated” I replied “oh, Charles must be so happy.” As I thought this was about Queen Elizabeth, but it was not to be. Charles will have to wait a few more years, but I did wonder how he reacted when he heard about Queen Beatrix.

The Dutch are known for their efficiency, so on Tuesday the Queen will officially abdicate at 10am and then there will be a King. At 10:30am, the new King, Beatrix, formerly known as the Queen (who will now be a princess) and the new Queen will appear on the balcony of the Royal Palace for some brief speeches. Later in the day, Willem-Alexander will have his investiture. Many dignitaries from around the world will be there, including royalty from all over. It is customary that no king or queen attend this ceremony, as they do not want to steal the spotlight from the new king. And as I said, there will be lots of celebrating with dances, boat parades and music…maybe a few beers will be drunk on that day.

By the way, the most popular Dutch royal is the soon to be queen, Maxima. She is down to earth, stylish and seems “very friendly.” Alex and Maxima have three daughters and their oldest, Amalia, will be the next queen. Imagine being nine years old and already knowing your career.

There will be 14 hours of television coverage. Lots of orange and lots of smiles. Let us all be safe and happy.


This is the Royal Palace at the Dam. The balcony is right in the center. To the right is the church where the ceremony will take place. Just picture a few thousand people standing in that square on Tuesday, in a blur of orange.

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  • Jean Langley  On April 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I wonder why the word “abdicate” gives me such a negative impression. It sounds like a happy occasion when royalty retires, as in this case. One person gets to relax a little, and the person taking the throne can be excited for the opportunity.

  • Carol  On April 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Very interesting. Something else I didn’t know about the country. Thank you for sharing this.

  • janeduttonutrecht  On April 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Jean, her leaving is not considered negative at all. the dutch look at it as purely retirement. she has been greatly applauded for her years of service. In Britain, it is rarely done, as the role is viewed as a service for your life. But here, as I have said, with history, it is a reasonable thing to do. And I think it makes sense. She deserves a good retirement.

  • Ien in the Kootenays  On May 9, 2013 at 5:34 am

    You know you are getting old when a Queen abdicates, and you remember the coronation of her mother. I was 5 years old. We were living in Amsterdam, but had only been there a year. Former neighbours from the small town where I was born came to visit for a few days. We took the tram downtown to go see the “verlichting”, the decorations of light. Nothing that would wow a North American used to lights around Christmas, but special in those drab post-war years. There was a carnival a block away. Koniginnedag has become a bigger deal since my Dutch years, perhaps as a reaction to immigration.

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