The Last Queen's Day May 17, 2013

Yet again, precisely on time, Holland has turned orange on the 30th of April. Queen's day is there, but this time is the last in the modern history of the country.

On the 28th of January Beatrix announced that she would abdicate in favour of her eldest son Willem-Alexander, the heir apparent to the throne. After 33 years of service it's time to say goodbye, said she (to put it in simple temrs, the actual speech was of course more florid). No queen means no Queen's Day, it's that simple.

As of 2014, this holiday will rather be celebrated as King's Day (Koningsdag). Willem-Alexander was fortunate to have been born on the 27th of April, which is almost the same date. By contrast, Beatrix's birthday is on the 31th of January, which means winter and cold. When she ascended the throne in 1980, she decided to keep it as it was on April 30th.

(By the way, Queen's/King's Day is the only public holiday on Holland that is moved if it falls on a Sunday. I'm not certain about the exact reason, but can infer it rides on religious considerations. Sunday is a day for worship and rest, and not for romping around in an orange outfit. So in this case it's usually observed the previous day, on Saturday.)

So Beatrix turned a princess again, Willem-Alexander the King and his nine-year old daughter Amalia a princess and the heiress apparent to the throne.

Inauguration

This Queen's Day was special not only because it was last. Its main highlight were the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of the new king.

The ceremony began at ten o'clock in the morning on April 30th at the Royal Palace on the Dam Square, Amsterdam. The Queen signed the Instrument of Abdication in the presence of numerous officials at 10:07. As of that moment Willem-Alexander became the reigning King of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and his spouse Máxima a queen consort (meaning she is appraised as a queen though formally she is still a princess).

The idea of turning up to the Dam Square before ten in the morning was considered unfeasible. Looking for a parking place would become a highly non-trivial exercise. And you wouldn't want to come to Amsterdam by train as it was forecasted at least a million people would come to Amsterdam that day, both from Holland and nearby countries. One of my Dutch friends has done this. She had to get up at six and take public transport, which was doable since she lives close by Amsterdam. Another thing to remember about such events is that it's hardly possible to see anything when standing among Dutch unless you're at least two metres tall.

Museum Square

All in all, we've decided to make no haste and arrived at the Museum Square (Museumplein) in Amsterdam around two o'clock in the afternoon. The inauguration ceremony in the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) has just began.

The weather wasn't as favourable as it was a year ago. It was cloudy and windy most of the time, so there was not so much orange except hats.

There were several huge screens mounted at the square, showing what was happening in the church. The public watched standing and sitting on the lawn.

Many faces are traditionally painted in the Dutch flag colours.

Willem-Alexander is taking the oath:

Among the Dutch, there were quite a few foreigners who felt engaged. Just like us.

The monogram of Willem-Alexander, made up by the letters WA, can be seen everywhere. Here it is above the screen:

It's also displayed elsewhere in Amsterdam. For example on these billboard pointing out the right direction for the public:

Some people are pretty ingenious about orange in their outfits:

The screen is showing the new king and queen:

Máxima is wearing blue, as three their daughters do. Those latter are patiently taking the duties caused by their origin.

The atmosphere is very friendly, and the people are cheerful. The Dutch royal house is as popular as ever.

They are congratulated everywhere. This is Amsterdam Concert Hall:

The ceremony finished about three o'clock. People began to leave.

We also headed for the Dam Square, disregarding the warning claiming there's no room left and advicing us to go to WTC instead:

Free markets are everywhere in the city on this day:

Three police helicopters hang high in the sky, monitoring public safety.

Every canal in Amsterdam is swarming with boats, full of speakers and drunk youngsters, who greet the new king.

It's incredibly crowded in the streets. We had to detour several times because it was nearly impossible to squeeze our way through the crowd.

As an addition to floating speakers, every street was producing some noise. Here are banners of War Child and speakers below them.

Dam Square

It wasn't that busy at the Dam Square (never trust the mass-media). Here's the Royal Palace, which has been the main building of this country just a few hours ago:

A three-storey stand for the press at the opposite side:

Bijenkorf have decorated their roof with huge inflatable crowns:

And Madame Tussaud's façade is adorned with WA monograms and fitted with screens:

Wax figures of Juliana and Wilhelmina, the mother and grandmother of Beatrix, respectively, graciously watch the square from the round window above:

The last Queen's Day. At least until Amalia assumes the throne. Unless (and I find this highly improbable) the Dutch Monarchy ceases to exist earlier.