Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

When most of the countries in Europe were monarchies, we had our Dutch Republic. In the 17th century the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Before we became a Republic, the Dutch had to fight a war against the Spanish king, the war lasted for 80 years. The leader of the Dutch rebels was Willem van Oranje. He held the function of Stadhouder, or deputy (not really a good translation, but close enough), for the Spanish king.

When Willem died in 1584, his son became his successor. Even when we had a republic and there was no king anymore, and strictly speaking the fuction of stadhouder had become obsolete, this was the title the family van Oranje kept. For most of the time, they ruled the Dutch Republic.
The Dutch Republic ended in 1795, when the French came and the stadhouder and his family fled to England. When Napoleon was defeated in 1813, the Netherlands became a kingdom, first together with Belgium, but since 1830 as just Het koninkrijk der Nederlanden (the Kingdom of the Netherlands). The son of the last stadhouder was aked to come back to the Netherlands, to become our king.

This was King Willem I. He had a lot of power and did his best to improve the infrastructure and the trade in the low lands. His son, Willem II, became a liberal overnight when he agreed to have a new constitution in 1848, for fear of revolution. King Willem III was known as the gorilla-king, because of his boorish behaviour. His wife died, leaving him with three sons, none of them fit to rule. He married again with the very young Emma, and together they had a daughter, Wilhelmina.

Wilhelmina became queen when her father died in 1890, and she was only ten years old at that time. Her mother acted as regent until she was eightteen. During WWII, when the Netherlands suffered under the nazi-occupation, Wilhelmina was in London. Churchill called her 'the only man in the Dutch government'. In 1948 she gave the throne to her daughter Juliana, who ruled until 1980 when queen Beatrix took over.

Beatrix has been a very intelligent queen, very professional and an excellent ambassador for our country. Today, after a reign of 33 years, she will sign the act of abdication at 10 am. and her eldest son will take over. From that moment he will be our new monarch.
Here are some impressions of queen Beatrix.

Princess Beatrix in 1959 Source wikipedia

Getting engaged to Claus von Amsberg in 1965. There was a lot of opposition to their marriage, because Claus was a German. photosource

Their marriage in 1966.

This image shocked the entire wold, the protesting against the marriage went on and even a smoke bomb was thrown at the carriage photosource
Claus soon won the hearts of the Dutch people; he learned to speak Dutch in no time (with a little accent) and due to his kindness and modesty and his eye for example for people in the Third world he became very well liked. Prince Clause even became the most popular member of the Royal family. He has always been a huge support for the queen.

In 1980 queen Juliana (r) gave the throne to her eldest daughter Beatrix.
This is them together on the balcony of the royal palace in Amsterdam. photosource

The inauguration of Queen Beatrix, prince Claus is at her side.photosource
Unfortunately, the situation in Amsterdam that day was grimm. There was anger about poverty and the bad economical situation. Squatters and police met in a battle that day, and instead of people partying, there were tanks in the streets and the city looked like a battle field. My dad was a paramedic and in Amsterdam that day with the Red Cross. I was only 5 yo at the time, but I still remember my mum was very tense that day!

Beatrix' image was a bit stand-offish, but when she even accepted a kiss from a man on the street spontaniously in 1988, the icew was broken and people began to see the woman behind the hairdo and the formal manners.
Later it was said this whole event had been staged, but who cares? It was a great moment.
The newspaper headline said 'Give me a kiss, girl'. photosource
Whenever there was something going on, queen Beatrix was there, offering her support. Here she visited flooded areas of our country. Photosource

For the past 33 years, Queen Beatrix has always been there, being an excellent queen
 and well loved and respected by most of the Dutch people .

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