Orangemen’s Day: when the Northern-Irish celebrate a Dutchie

Each year, the Northern-Irish protestants parade through the streets to celebrate King William III of Orange. But who is he exactly and what did he do to make them so happy? 🤔

King William was born the sovereign Prince of Orange in the Netherlands and became King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702.

July 12 marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 where Irish Protestants celebrate and commemorate King William III of Orange’s victory over the Catholic King James II.

While he was formally known as King William II in Scotland, others took a liking to him, calling him “King Billy” in both Ireland and Scotland.

King William and Protestantism

King William’s commitment to protecting Protestantism gave him his reputation as the champion of the Protestant faith.

In 1688, King William and his wife (and cousin 😬), Queen Mary II, were invited to England by the seven English nobles (the Immortal Seven) to defend Protestantism and take the throne of England.

READ MORE | Why does the Netherlands love orange? The full explainer

The Battle of the Boyne

The Battle of the Boyne erupted as a result of King James’ attempt to regain the throne after King William’s reign began the year prior in 1689.

The battle took place between the Williamites and Jacobites on July 1, 1690, when the Dutch King William III of Orange led the Williamite forces to victory.

Not-so-fun fact: In total, 2,250 soldiers were either wounded or lost their lives in the battle.

As King James II failed to get his crown back, the battle ended in William III’s favour. This ensured a legacy of protestant ascendancy in Ireland to the modern-day.

Today, the Battle of the Boyne is seen as a pivotal moment for Protestantism in Ireland, which owes its thanks to King William III of Orange and the Williamites.

The Twelfth

Orangemen’s Day, also known as “The Twelfth” is a public holiday in Ulster, one of the four Irish provinces, between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It’s celebrated with large parades by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, bonfires, and streets decorated with British flags and buntings. 🎊

Controversial commemorations

However, these celebrations don’t come free of controversy. The Twelfth is no stranger to violence between Ulster Protestants and Catholics, especially in times of political pressure.

While Catholic Irish nationalists deem it as a supremacist and sectarian parade, Ulster Protestants find it an important part of their culture.

With burning flags and marches through Catholic neighbourhoods, the celebrations are quite confronting for the Northern-Irish Catholic community. However, in recent years, celebrations have become more peaceful.

Do you celebrate Orangemen’s Day? Tell us your experiences in the comments below!

Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).

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