King Willem-Alexander was greeted with cheers but also loud cheers when he gave his annual Prinsjesdag speech to parliament. In it, the sovereign outlines the plans of the cabinet for the coming legislature on the third Tuesday of September.
The speech was held this year in the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague, instead of in the traditional Ridderzaal, which is currently being restored.
In his speech, the king acknowledged growing discontent among the citizens of the country, especially when it comes to politics.
Referring to recent polls, he said: “It is worrying that in a mature democracy like ours, people are losing faith in the power of government and management to solve problems. We live in a time of contradictions and uncertainty. People’s uncertainty about tomorrow and the further future is increasing.”
In a speech largely written by the ruling government, the king said: “The cabinet realizes that the Dutch are critical of the functioning of the political and administrative system. At the same time, a large majority is still satisfied with the functioning of democracy.” Willem-Alexander addressed anger about energy prices, lack of affordable housing and the government’s climate plans.
“A direct result of the war and international sanctions against Russia is that gas, electricity and food have become much more expensive. That is why the cabinet has decided on an unprecedented hefty package of more than 18 billion euros especially for low and middle incomes [families]. But even then,” he continued, “not all price increases can be fully offset for everyone.”
Rare public mockery of the Dutch royal family
The event also marked a return to public festivities along the route between the Royal Palace and the Royal Theater following the break from the COVID-19 restrictions.
As the king traveled by antique carriage with his wife Maxima and their 18-year-old daughter, Crown Princess Amalia, who attended the event for the first time, they were greeted by cheering fans, many wearing the family’s traditional orange.
But disaffected along the route also chased the family out, holding the national flags upside down in protest, just as they have done in protest against Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s leadership.
Farmers, for example, are outraged by new nitrogen emissions regulations that they say will bankrupt them.
After their return from the Koninklijke Schouwburg, the royal family stepped onto the balcony of the royal Noordeinde Palace, but here too the cheers could not be ignored.
Tuesday’s events were an important step for Crown Princess Amalia, who has started participating in official events now that she is of age. For example, although she has just started her university studies, she will be going to the Caribbean regions of the Netherlands with her parents next spring.
Willem-Alexander took the throne in 2013, when his mother Beatrix abdicated after 33 years as queen.
js/jcg (TNZT, dpa)
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