Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Queensday (oftewel Koninginnedag)

     The Dutch are celebrating Koninginnedag since 1885, starting with the 5th birthday of the popular princess Wilhelmina, although at that time it was called "Princessedag", as she only became Queen on her 18th birthday, when that day was ofcourse changed to "Queensday".
     The reader must realize that the Dutch are anything but royalists by nature. As soon as we shook off the shackles of the Spanish royal tyranny in 1581, we became a constitutional republic (a lot of the US constitution is based on the Dutch and French versions). We still claim to be "the oldest republic" in the world. In doing so one has to ignore the anomaly of San Marino, (whoever heard of them?) which was declared independent from the Roman empire in 301. And to be candid, we continued in 1813 the Monarchy that Napoleon forced on us in 1806, effectively ending our Republic.
     Anyway our mindset is still republic-minded, while to the rest of the world we claim to be fiercily loyal to our royal family, whose forefathers avoided being de-throwned by our republican minded government in 1848. The King ceded that year all factual powers to our parliamentary cabinet and its prime-minister in all affairs of government, under a brokered agreement.
     The then reigning King Willem II lost "a who blinks first" battle with parliament and the constitution was changed, whereby "the king remained the inviolate head of government (saving his Monarchy), but whereby the minister became responsible", which practically means all laws of the land are decreed by the King, BUT they have to be countersigned by the responsible minister, who brings to the king the passed laws of parliament for him to sign, after which the minister must countersign for a law or decree to be in effect.
     Anytime the Monarchy will not sign, they run the risk of parliamentary removal from the throne, as this has been laid down in the Dutch Constitution to be the "privilege of Parliament" since 1848.
sofar the royal palace in the background is still there
     Whoa I took you guys on a side tour didn't I?
Well back to Queensday and remember, since Wilhelmina became Queen in 1890, we have only had queens ruling our little Monarchy and during that time we had several "crises", whereby our Monarchy could have returned to a Republic again. The closest we came to that was in 1918, when many European royal families were removed, following the fall of the Russian Tsar.
the crown was saved, viva the genever
     In our case: A "spontaneous royalist gathering" organized by the then prime minister in the Hague, whereby the dutch gin or "genever" royally flowed to all who wanted to attend, thus assuring a large "royalist" crowd, staved off an anti Monarchy march to the palace to dethrone the Queen.
     Since then several husbands created scandals, bringing parliamentary discussions to the floor, whether it should execute their constitutional right to end the Monarchy. As you see, all in all the Royal family needs to work hard to stay beloved.
     The present king to be: the Prince of Orange Willem Alexander has secured his succession by marrying a hugely popular commoner from Argentina - Princess Maxima, who is so popular, some people would prefer her to be queen instead of her husband becoming king.
are they still looking for beer, women and football?
      Hey Erik, stop straying from the topic of today: 'Koninginnedag", which the Dutch with gusto celebrate countrywide every April 30th in every city, village or hamlet. All 16.5 million Dutch don themselves on this offical national holiday, in honor of the House of Orange, in bright orange, a color that rules for one full day in clothing and accessories like leggings, glasses, shoes and boas, in hair color and drinks.

orange drinks: alcohol is optional
A bright color, excuding friendship and community, all in all an outburst of patriotism, not so much because the royal family is popular, but to show each other and demonstrate together a barmy kind of belonging. 

hara krishna is also celebrating queens day

     As we live in the heart of Amsterdam, some statistics to illustrate the size of our "local" party in this the largest city of the country. The trains and buses bring that very day from 8am onward about 800 thousand "guests" to the edge of our city centrum, where traffic is barred for the day, making our inner city a walking-only paradise.

drinking instead of visiting the sexshop: freedom of choice
(The 2011 statistics claim that the trains delivered 50.000 passengers per hour). That effectively means that 1.6 million people roam the centrum looking for concerts, for boats to fill the canals, for pubs to lave their thirst in, all of them dressed in full orange. The city brings in hordes of street lavatories and will need 24 hours to cleanse the city of the remnants of this on slaught, because our party goers leave 185 tons of waste behind on the city center streets and canals. All official parties cease at 8pm, so that there is time for the railways and buses to repatriate the visitors from Amsterdam timely. 


free market or flea market participant
     During this day of orange madness the nation also enjoys a vrijmarkt (or "free market" better translated as a "taxfree flea market"), whereby one in five Dutch residents are trying to sell stuff to the other four, which statistically creates a taxfree and permit free revenue of 100 euro per seller and where the average buyer spends 28 euro. Even the Queen is known to have bought a floor lamp in 1995.

from our window
they are not looking at us; we are waving too


the bridge in front of our house stays crowded


     As you guys see from the pictures we watched a lot of the action sitting on our windowsill, a typical Amsterdam pastime by the way.

the ladies are looking for a fun moment or is it a hunk?
We also walked the streets with our niece Melody and enjoyed the night life after that of which we have no pictures as we don't wish you to see any form of non sobriety.
no rest for the wary

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