Tippin' the Scales


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Once Upon A Time #6

beatrixIn a country that is not that far, far away… It looks like the world has shrunk, but  this story still includes castles, palaces, princes, princesses, a new king…

Beatrix
Beatrix succeeded in 1980 at the age of 42 her mother Juliana. Beatrix direct approach is another course than Juliana did. She modernizes the court, sharpens the protocol [Ma’am becomes Majesty] and develops a style of government that is experienced, business, stylish and modern.

She takes her role as Queen very seriously and is demanding to the people who work with and for her. Her business style fits the no-nonsense era of the 80s, in which she closely works with Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. But there is also criticism of her aloof attitude.

But who gets to do with her personal, experiences a different woman. In times of disaster, such as the Bijlmer disaster in 1992, the fireworks disaster in 2000 and the fire in Volendam in 2001, she offers victims a comforting arm.

The people have appreciated the way Beatrix is covering her office and how she represents the Netherlands abroad. For her commitment to the unity of Europe she gets in 1996 the prestigious International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen in Germany.

Under fire
There are many matters of Beatrix office to pass intact to the next generation. She protects her private life as much as possible of its civil service and avoids getting involved in political discussions.

Especially in the last years of her reign the queen is often under fire. Topics such as tolerance, sustainability, respect and solidarity which annually return in Beatrix’ Christmas speeches, appear with the rise of Geert Wilders PVV. Because of these [unwanted] political overtones she has to watch her words as a immune head of state.

In 2012 her political role in the coalition of new cabinets is lost. The government decides that the head of state now doesn’t designates an [in]former anymore. For the first time the House of Representatives takes on this task. Also there’s increasingly call in society for a cut in the costs of the royal family in times of economic crisis. [The people forget that the royals bring in a hundredfold trade to the country].

Care
Privately she gets an appropriate setback during her reign. Her husband, Prince Claus, after she took office as queen struggles shortly with severe depression, for which he is traveling abroad to have treatment. Later, he gets Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Although Claus stands as one of her key advisors, his poor health until his death in 2002 is a source of concern.

Beatrix and Claus get together three sons: Willem-Alexander [1967], Friso [1968] and Constantine [1969]. Prince Friso claim to the throne was lost in 2004, because he had not talked about the past of his future wife Mabel Wisse Smit, and didn’t ask parlaiment to get married. Eight years later, in 2012, Friso is in a coma following a serious skiing accident. His chances of recovery, according to the doctors is ‘minor’.

Heir Willem-Alexander is, partly by Beatrix, intensively prepared for the kingship. They can not prevent that the Crown Prince was discredited in 2009 when he buys a luxury holiday villa in Mozambique. Under pressure from the negative publicity the prince sells the villa.

In announcing her resignation on January 28, 2013 there is much praise for Beatrix. Politicians show themselves grateful for her dedication, expertise and commitment.


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Red, White, Blue and Orange…

The city turns into a giant flag, more so than 33 years ago when we had the last inauguration.

On our side of town, the sunny side of Amsterdam North, the Overhoeks Tower looks even better than the artist impression we saw a few weeks ago.

Overhoeks Tower by day, Willem-Alexander inauguration design.

Overhoeks Tower by day, Willem-Alexander inauguration design.

The subtle WA also shows a faint M, for Máxima, the commoner from Argentine who’ll be queen. In the ratings she’s just above our new king.

Overhoeks Tower at night, Willem-Alexander inauguration design topped with an orange crown

Overhoeks Tower at night, Willem-Alexander inauguration design topped with an orange crown

On a daily basis we hear how many people are expected to visit the city on Inauguration Day, over two million. About a quarter will go no further than Dam Square, to see the royals after the abdication and before the inauguration.

It also means I stay away from the centre of town, I’ve no problems when I’m in a city with millions of people like Chicago, London or New York, but I’ve got major problems when they are all in the same spot in a small town [we think we’re big, but we’re not].


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Once Upon A Time #5

julianaIn a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princesses, queens…

Juliana
Juliana is like her mother only child and thus against her will inheritor to the throne. On September 6, 1948 she ascends that throne, exactly fifty years after Wilhelmina did. Juliana has been able to practice. She’s in 1947 and 1948 a few weeks regent, when her mother is sick.

With her father, she had a good relationship. They have the same sense of humor in common and until his death in 1934 they are much together. Juliana later finds out that she is not the only child of her father. She has several half-brothers and -sisters. Her own husband will later hold several extramarital relationships.

Her mother is strict. She trains Juliana as spartan as her own mother did to her. Juliana is prepared for the important role they will play. It also means that the often shy princess has to appear in public.

Royal couple
On January 7, 1937 Juliana married with the German Count Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. They live at Soestdijk Palace and have four daughters. Their youngest daughter Marijke is almost blind at birth. Juliana feels guilty. During her pregnancy she got the disease rubella. Bernard brings the alternative healer Greet Hofmans to Soestdijk.

Later this appears to be the beginning of a major crisis, the Netherlands almost lose the monarchy. The Hofmans Affair is not the only issue of the royal couple. Thus was Prince Bernhard in 1976 involved in the Lockheed affair. He would have accepted bribes.

Despite these affairs the royal family remains popular. Juliana is more sensitive about things than her mother and is therefore closer to the people. As a princess, she is sometimes uncertain. But after a largely spent time in Canada, without a husband and father during World War II, she is a lot more independent.

Bernhard takes Juliana to different countries. He helps ensure that Juliana turns into a worldly woman. A woman who thinks motherhood is just as important as kingship. But also a socially conscious queen who is seen as ‘mother of Holland’.

Juliana is not afraid to stand up for her moral beliefs. Even if this occasionally creates tensions with ministers. She is happy when during her reign Indonesia becomes independent.

Princess Juliana
Queen Juliana holds on the 42nd birthday of Princess Beatrix a speech on radio and television in which she announces that she renounces the throne. Her powers are diminishing, she explains. On April 30, 1980 she officially signs off.

But even as a princess Juliana remains involved with the Netherlands, until her health no longer allows it. In 1999, she lets the people know not to appear in public anymore. Juliana dies March 20, 2004 the age of 94.


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Once Upon A Time #4

wilhelminaIn a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princesses, queens…

Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina is 18 on September 6, 1898 she’s then officially inaugurated as queen of the Netherlands. The young princess is actually Queen as her father William III dies at age ten. Her mother Emma acts as a regent until Wilhelmina turns 18.

Wilhelmina is the only child of the second marriage of William III with forty years younger Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont. Her mother raises her with a severe hand and gets her ready for the monarchy. With her father, she had a good relationship, they play every day together until his death.

On February 7, 1901 Wilhelmina married with Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. After several miscarriages on April 30, 1909 their first and only child: Juliana is born. Wilhelmina can’t keep her husband in check. Henry holds a dissolute lifestyle and regularly commits adultery.

Wartime
The new queen quickly demonstrate a determination and in some cases authoritarian attitude. She regularly has conflicts with politicians. Wilhelmina feels involved in the armed forces. During World War I she is a strong supporter of the policy of neutrality and remains in the Netherlands.

The Second World War is another story. Then Wilhelmina goes in exile in London. This first leads to criticism, but that is changing as the queen from London supports the people through Radio Orange. She’s therefore not afraid to express rejection against Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. From London she also gives guidance to the Dutch government in exile.

When Wilhelmina after the war comes back in the Netherlands, there is less changed than she had initially expected. The political situation is the same as before the war. Wilhelmina was hoping for major changes, but the secularization delayed longer in itself.

After the monarchy
Not much later, in September 1948, Juliana follows up her disappointed mother. Wilhelmina withdraws and is mainly concerned with religion, painting and writing her own memoirs in “Lonely but not alone“.

Also they will pursue different business activities. Occasionally she still appears in public. So she visits after the floods of 1953 the affected areas in Zeeland. One of her last public appearances was in 1956, at the 18th anniversary of her granddaughter Beatrix.

On November 28, 1962 Wilhelmina dies at age 82. She is buried in the family tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. The people remember her as “mother of the fatherland”.


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Once Upon A Time #3

willem_3In a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princes, princesses, kings, regent…

King William III
Actually, William III doesn’t want to be king. In 1848 he shares with his father William II that he waives his rights to the throne. However, he will, not even a year later, succeed him as the third Dutch monarch.

William was born in 1817, three years after William I came to power. He is therefore the first Dutchman who grows up with the idea that he will be later king of our country. But the constitutional amendments under his grandfather and father states that less and less.

William seems like a personal affront to conceive. With sorrow he must watch how Thorbecke further undresses the power of the king. Outraged he wrote the letter to his father and left for England.

Dissolute
The sudden appearance is no surprise to whom personally know the Crown Prince. He is known for his temper and his whims. In the press he will later be dismissed as ‘king gorilla’. He also holds a promiscuous lifestyle, he shall be fined for exhibitionism.

Although William is hardly cut of the right stuff and he seems little point in the track itself, there is little to choose from in March 1849. When William II dies quite unexpectedly at the age of 56, his son is persuaded by confidants to take the throne. A questionable successor is always better than no king.

William tries to break the parliament. During his reign he tries to gain the lost power. He insists to appoint conservative government informers, and even tries to tackle the Thorbecke government. There are even rumors that he is preparing a coup to restore the former glory of the king in honor.

Quarrel
At home it’s war. With his intellectual wife Sophie, “peasant” William makes life unbearable. They even argue about the treatment of their son Maurits as the 6-year-old is on his deathbed. Because a separation is not possible, the two life finally separated from bed and board.

With his two other sons William also has a dysfunctional connection. Both become disappointed and estranged from their royal calling, they develop poor health and die at a young age.

With the disappearance of the heirs a royal crisis a likely in the Netherlands again. William is keenly aware that he needs a descendant, to ensure that he marries in his sixties the 20-year-old German princess Emma. Their daughter Wilhelmina will be the salvation of the royal family.

Kidney disease
William himself will not live to see it. Increasingly indifferent he pulls back further from public life and dies in 1890 from a kidney ailment.

As regent of the 10-year-old Wilhelmina, Emma breaks radically with the authoritarian style of her late husband. She lays the seeds for the ruling style of the three queens the Netherlands will know the next 123 years.


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Once Upon A Time #2

willem_2In a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princes, princesses, kings…

King William II
On November 28, 1840 William II follows in the footsteps of his father. He is a passionate confidently man, who regularly collided with his father. William I doesn’t follow the advice that his son gives. William II can’t wait to be at the helm him self.

During his years in the British army the prince is called ‘Slender Billy’. His fights include the Battle of Waterloo. Of the Dutch population he gets as a thank you palace Soestdijk.

Whimsical
The war years have shaped him. The prince is erratic, talks loud and has his own will. But he can also be kind and good with people from different walks of life.

As King, William II is whimsical. He often changes at the last-minute of opinion and takes on important moments in a political position than just before. In 1848 he is very conservative and suddenly he becomes liberal and welcomes a new Constitution. His power is again limited and the parliament has gained more power.

The first fiancée of William II, the English Princess Charlotte, breaks off the engagement. In 1816 the prince marries Anna Pavlovna, the sister of the Russian Tsar Nicholas I. They have five children.

William II has during his marriage relations with other men. According to various rumors, he is blackmailed because of his dissolute lifestyle.

Problems
These are not the only financial problems. William II spends more money than he has, he buys a lot of art and builds several palaces.

Even within his own family it is not going well. One of his sons dies and his eldest son causes William II problems. The Crown Prince finds that his father made a large mistake by voting in favor of the new constitution.

All this makes the welfare of the king no good. Beginning in March 1849, as his health deteriorates, William II pulls himself back alone in Tilburg. On March 17, 1849 William II dies in Tilburg. He’s only been king for nine years. His body is buried in the crypt of the House of Orange at Delft.


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Once Upon A Time #1

willem_1In a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princes, kings…

King William I
The history of the Dutch royal family begins in a cart on the beach of Scheveningen. The future King William I is overtaken on November 30, 1813 after his arrival from England. His father, stadtholder William V, fled there when the French occupied the Netherlands. Now the power of Napoleon is on its return, which will also change a lot for the Orange family.

The Netherlands has been for centuries a republic, but the provisional government in the country gave the title of Sovereign Prince to William. On a whim of Orange Love the public accepts the new monarchy, before the end of the year the position of William I is confirmed in a new constitution. On March 30, 1814 he is inaugurated in Amsterdam as king.

Even internationally it goes well. The victorious powers would like a buffer state against France and therefore add the current Belgium to the Netherlands. The southern Netherlands are united again with the northern parts. He calls himself immediately King of the United Netherlands.

Merchant
William goes energetically to work and put in a lot of trade: he lets dig canals, roads and constructions as such, and starts the Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij [Dutch Trading Company]. It earned him the nickname king-merchant.

In Belgium however, William has another nickname: the copper king, because when he took office only copper instead of silver coins had been thrown. With the Southern Netherlands, it goes wrong thereby from the start. The Catholic, French-speaking residents feel second class citizens under the Protestant Dutchman. After the performance of a nationalist opera in Brussels, a more or less spontaneously break will start the Belgian Revolution.

Although the Ten Days campaign, led by the future King Willem II, Netherlands is progressing favorably, the growing international pressure on the Netherlands is to grant the Belgians independence. William grudgingly agrees in 1839.

Defeat
In the Netherlands, the public has become much less enthusiastic about William. He brings the country to the brink of bankruptcy by his spending and reigning preferably by Royal Decree [without telling parliament]. A new constitution is needed after the secession of Belgium, it is seen as an ideal time to curb the power of the king.

William sees it as a double defeat and decides to abdicate in favor of his eldest son. On October 7, he announces at palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn his retirement.

The abdication gives William, now some years a widower, to marry a new love opportunity: Catholic [!], Belgian [!], Countess Henriette d’Oultremont-Wégimont. They live together for three years at Berlin palace Unter der Linden, before William dies in 1843 at the age of 71.

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