Every year on the third Tuesday of September, all members of Dutch parliament dress their best, and gather traditionally in the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) in Den Haag (The Hague) to listen to the Troonrede, (Speech of the Throne) read out loud by the head of state, the monarch. This year it is not possible to keep all traditions alive. Because of Corona, King Willem Alexander will read the speech in the Grote Kerk because there it’s possible to keep more distance. There is no ride of the King and Queen in a gouden of glazen koets (golden or glass carriage) through the city and there is no balkonscene (balcony scene).
In this blog we will tell you all about Prinsjesdag, a day full of traditions.
Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) takes place every year on the third Tuesday of September in Den Haag (The Hague), the city of Dutch politics. The official English reference of Prinsjesdag is Budget Day. For a reason, this day the government presents the Rijksbegroting (government’s state budget) and the Miljoenennota (political resume) for the year ahead. This is done by none other than the Dutch king: Willem Alexander. The King, together with the ministers, makes up the government. It’s the King’s task to unify, represent and encourage the people. The ministers are responsible for the acts of the government and for the content of the Rijksbegroting en Miljoenennota. After the Troonrede the minister of Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, will hand over a koffertje (suitecase) to the Tweede Kamer (House of representatives), containing the Rijksbegroting and the Miljoenennota .
We hear you wonder: why is it called Prinsesdag and is koning Willem-Alexander the one who presents the government’s key plans for the year? It’s all about tradition: Prinsjesdag was originally the birthday of Stadhouder Prins Willem V (1748-1806) and had nothing to do with announcing the plans of the government. But when the Netherlands became an official Kingdom in 1814, koning Willem I read the first Troonrede (Speech of Throne) on Prinsjesdag. For convenient governmental reasons it now takes place on the same day every year, the third Tuesday of September.
Many refer to Prinsjesdag as ‘Hoedjesdag’ (Hat’s Day), because of the hats that are worn by a lot of women that attend the Troonrede in the Ridderzaal. In fact, this day seems sometimes to evolve more around the hats, than the state’s budget, for many. But why do all women wear a hat on this day? Well, it started all with Erica Terpstra, member of the political party ‘VVD’ since 1977. She decided to wear a hat in her first political year, saying: “If today isn’t a day to wear a hat, then when is it?”. A lot of women followed her lead and a tradition was born.
Now, the hats tradition has evolved to be a tradition of making statements. Some women wear hats with which they ask attention for certain political matters, and the hats are always being discussed in fashion- and gossip magazines.
Are you curious about the Dutch culture, including its particular ‘holidays’? The diverse Dutch language courses by Taalthuis not only make you familiar with the Dutch language, but also give you a taste of the culture and peculiarities that the Netherlands has to offer. Check out our Dutch language course offer and pick your favourite!