It’s a really good thing that today is not tomorrow.
I’m looking out the window watching pouring rain, and tourists intrepidly making their way to Delft centrum with only drugstore umbrellas as a shield, and locals biking in full rain gear (or not).
This would be terrible weather for a yard sale.
Tomorrow is Queen’s Day, a holiday I’ve written about before; but this year it’s different: on Koninginnedag 2013, the Dutch Queen Beatrix will abdicate, passing the throne of the Netherlands to her son, the about-to-be King Willem-Alexander, and his wife Maxima.
Politically this doesn’t mean a ton. The Dutch monarch is primarily ornamental, providing a good public image (one hopes) and meeting regularly with the Prime Minister. Beatrix is 75, and she’s been the Queen since 1980. I was surprised, after seeing her pleasant face everywhere for the past month, to learn that earlier in life she was quite the controversial figure here. In 1966, which for most people was not nearly enough distance from the occupation of WWII, she married a German diplomat who had served in the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) during the war. Her wedding in Amsterdam was marked by public protest, as was her investiture (the Dutch don’t do “crowning”) in 1980. She and her family survived a Queen’s Day assassination attempt in 2009, the motivation for which was never fully explained.
This weekend I asked a few Dutch friends how people feel about the whole changing-of-the-guard. It’s all over the shops and news and media. (There has even been a mild to-do about a song that was commissioned for the investiture of Willem-Alexander, released, generally disparaged, and revoked by the embarrassed artist—before it was decided the song will be used as planned.) But is there an emotion about the event, or just another excuse for parties and orange sunglasses?
My twenty-something Amsterdam friend told me that to her it is “the last thing” on her mind, but to her parents’ generation, the Queen is important. Another young friend shared a similar sentiment: he doesn’t feel any connection to the royal family. A third friend, a little older than the first two, told me it’s important that the royal family keeps up a respectable image. They are, after all, the face of the country, and so Willem-Alexander had better not be embarrassing anyone. Beatrix was a good figurehead, and so she won people over over time.
In comparison to the royal family of England, the House of Orange-Nassau mainly stays out of the tabloids. They have a reputation for living quietly and in a reasonably (for a royal family) down-t0-earth manner.
There is absolutely nothing down-to-earth about the commercial orange mania available in the stores right now, and so this weekend I tried to capture some of it.
I have to admit I wondered who was buying all these commemorative books (there were even commemorative greeting cards you could send your friends)—and then I noticed the two women waiting in front of me in the stationery store each had two of them.
And last but not least: the item that, in my opinion, takes the orange cake:
Albert Heijn (grocery store) is selling a packet of ingredients that you can use to make a “King’s Soup.” Basically, it includes an assortment of orange food products: a carrot, an orange pepper, an orange, curry powder, and I forget what else. There was a recipe printed on the back. I suppose it would be orange. I’m concerned it would be horrendous.
I’m not sure what we’re doing tomorrow—we’ve mentioned everything from going to Amsterdam to staying home to scouting the yard sales for a comfy chair. Last year the Queen somehow managed a sunny, warm day—let’s hope the King can call in a similar favor.