Dutch Quirk #121: Hate on the King and all of his blunders

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #121: Hate on the King and all of his blunders

Ah, King Willem-Alexander: a character both admired and hated throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch certainly love criticising him and his many slip-ups!

In a geographically tiny country like the Netherlands, it’s no surprise that news and gossip travel fast. So, when the King messes up, the Dutch quickly take part in one of their favourite national sports: hating on the royals. 🤴🏽

What is it?

The Dutch don’t like it when the King messes up, and they will certainly let their opinions be heard.

Especially during the pandemic, when Willem-Alexander suffered from backlash after quite a few whoopsie-doopsies in the area of “following the regulations”. 

Here’s a lovely throwback picture of the often controversial Dutch royal family from 2013. Image: Floris Looijesteijn/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Just one example was when the Dutch reeeaally didn’t like it when the royal family decided to take a lovely little vacation from the pandemic-ridden Dutch society in 2020, and headed off to Greece!

READ MORE | The king’s speech: Royal House releases video of the king apologising for Greek holiday

People also got mad when the future queen of the Netherlands, Princess Amalia, was allowed to have 21 people over for her birthday party — and we regular folks were only allowed four… 😒

Tsk tsk tsk, the King has received tons of hate over the years… But if he wants to climb on the popularity ladder in the future, it might be an idea to work on learning from his mistakes. 

The Dutch looveee to keep criticising him — and he’s not exactly working hard to make them stop. 

But hey — all PR is good PR, right? … Right? 😅

Why do they do it?

People have been hating on their kings for as long as the concept of kings has been a thing — to a more or less public extent. But why is it such a noticeable thing in Dutch society?

One explanation could be that the Dutch, being a well-developed and well-functioning democracy, value keeping their rulers in check. Some might even say it’s healthy to hate on the ruling elite a little bit. 

People don’t tend to like it when politicians and other authority figures place themselves above regular people, and the Dutch are especially notorious for this attitude. 

READ MORE | That time the Dutch ate their prime minister

That’s why Dutchies love it when Prime Minister Mark Rutte shows his “just a regular guy” side, and bikes to work. Or when Princess Amalia turned down her royal allowance in order to get more in tune with the normal Dutch folks on the street. How adorable. 

Or perhaps the Dutch just really like to come across as cool, hip, following with the times, reading the (political) room, etc. 

In times of democracy, it’s just not that hot to have a monarchy anymore, and everyone knows how much the Dutch like being seen as progressive and fresh. 😎

Why is it quirky? 

If you’re from a country with less freedom of speech than the Netherlands, you might view the outspokenness of the Dutch as quirky and bold. 

However, it’s not dangerous, frowned upon, or unpopular, to hate on the King and all his blunders. Quite the opposite, in fact! 

But the Dutch hatred for their king is even more quirky when you realise that they don’t seem to want to get rid of the royal family anytime soon… 🤷🏽‍♂️

For starters, the King’s birthday is celebrated like crazy every single year. There’s no holiday more intensely Dutch and monarchy at the same time.

READ MORE | What’s happening in the Netherlands on King’s Day 2023?

It also seems to be a general perception that the monarchy is here to stay — for God knows what reason. 

Should you join in? 

If you want to blend into Dutch society, you should definitely practice some King-dissing jokes and get on with the trend of disliking Willy-boy. 

That is, as long as you don’t mind the hypocrisy that comes with it — because you’ll also have to be very excited about the King’s birthday if you want to be taken for a real Dutchie.

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2022, and was fully updated in September 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.


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