Did you know that the Netherlands is one of the seven koninkrijken (kingdoms) in Europe?
Het Koninklijk huis (The royal house), as the Dutch royal family is referred to, is very popular in the Netherlands, but also sometimes a topic of discussion. Some love the tradition of a monarchy, some think it is a bit outdated. Nowadays, the Koninklijk Huis in the Netherlands is more of a symbolic or traditional value. The king is the head of state, but his power is limited: the ministers have the real power. Read on to find out more about Het Koningshuis in the Netherlands!
The Dutch monarchy
Let’s start with a little history lesson. The Netherlands has been a monarchy since 1806, when Napoleon’s little brother became king of Holland. In 1813, the Dutchman Willem I van Oranje-Nassau became koning (king), and since then the Dutch royal family consists of his heirs. The name Oranje (orange), derives from Willem van Oranje: the man who led the revolt against Spain in the 17th century. His nickname is vader des vaderlands (father of the homeland), because he is seen as the man who ensured an independent Netherlands. Now you understand where the Netherlands got its national colour orange from!
Since 2013, koning Willem-Alexander has been king of the Netherlands. He succeeded his mother Beatrix, who had been a queen for 33 years. Willem-Alexander is married to the Argentinian Máxima, who is unprecedentedly popular as a koningin (queen). She is loved for her warm personality and beautiful appearance. Images of the royal bruiloft (wedding) went all over the world when Máxima shed a tear during an Argentinian music performance that reminded her of home.
The royal pair has three daughters: Amalia (17) , Alexia (15) and Ariane (13). The family lives in a palace in The Hague and they live as normal a life as possible: the girls go to a regular school for example.
Koningsdag and Prinsjesdag
You probably heard about that one day in April when the Netherlands turn orange and everyone goes crazy. On Koningsdag (Kings day), the birthday of the king is celebrated as a national holiday on the 27th of April. Typical for this day is that there are numerous parties and festivals outside and that the country turns into one big flea market. The royal family visits a different city each year during Koningsdag where they are warmly welcomed by the people. Traditionally, old Dutch games are played such as zaklopen (jumping in a jute sack), koekhappen (trying to bite in a piece of gingerbread) and WC-pot gooien (throwing a toilet as far as possible).
Another day that is related to the royal family, but is a little less festive, is Prinsjesdag (Prince day). Every third Tuesday of September, the King delivers the troonrede (speech of the throne), in which he officially opens the parliamentary year. Traditionally all women that are attending the speech are wearing a hat. The hats of Prinsjesdag are a juicy topic of discussion for fashion critics every year.
What do you think of the tradition of a monarchy in the Netherlands? And have you celebrated Koningsdag yet? It is definitely a good reason to come to the Netherlands! Taalthuis offers various Dutch language courses in which you learn about the Dutch language as well as Dutch culture and traditions!