The Kingdom of the Netherlands started 200 years ago today. It was the day that let to the independence from Imperial France, with the landing of Prince Willem-Frederik of Orange-Nassau in Scheveningen [near The Hague]. We may have the oldest national anthem in the world, it was written between 1569 and 1572, but the foundation of the Kingdom started on November 30, 1813. It took, after getting a new Constitution, till September 26, 1815 before Prince Willem-Frederik was inaugurated as king. Then this nation also concluded the Southern Netherlands, better known today as Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, but also the colonies of Indonesia, Suriname and New Guinea. Over the years they’ve all gone their own way.
Celebrations marking the bicentenary will be held from 2013 to 2015. This is a great opportunity to take stock of our shared past, present and future. The celebrations marking the bicentenary are for everyone, both in the European and Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. They will be focusing on the transatlantic ties that bind us, and on what has been achieved, at times by trial and error, over the past two centuries. Celebrating together means showing respect for our different backgrounds and the diversity that makes our Kingdom so vibrant.
The foundation for the democratic legal order as we know it today was laid in 1813, and it evolved slowly but surely from there. In 1848 freedom of assembly and association and the freedom of education were added to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Dutch Constitution, and freedom of the press was expanded. However, slavery was not abolished in the Antilles and Suriname until 1863.
November 30, 2013 – Kick-off in Scheveningen and The Hague
On this day precisely 200 years ago Willem Frederik, Prince of Orange-Nassau, [later King Willem I] landed at Scheveningen beach after sailing from England, where his father – Prince William V, Prince of Orange-Nassau – had fled to in 1795 to escape the French. Now, 200 years later, a re-enactment of that historic landing will be broadcast live on television.
The bicentenary celebrations will be officially launched at the Ridderzaal in The Hague in the afternoon. The programme will include the presentation of a commemorative book and the premier performance of a piece of music specially composed for the occasion. In the evening, there will be a party at the Circustheater, with performances by artists from all over the Kingdom and the Koninkrijksconcert [Kingdom Concert]. The Kingdom’s five democratic achievements* will be creatively incorporated into the programme.
Individual rights and freedoms.
Stable public administration in a modern state governed by the rule of law.
Room for active citizenship.
Unity in diversity.