The Netherlands has a monarchy in the same way that Switzerland has a navy (for all you xenophobic, ‘murican stereotypes out there: that’s a joke because Switzerland is a landlocked country, hardy-har-har!): technically yes, but for all other intents and purposes, no. Despite being all used to the idea of having a royal family with little to no political power, we do occasionally reminisce about the good old times when a king who rode into battle wasn’t just a trope from a Tolkien novel. Because back in the day, when a king was carrying a sword, there was no question that it wasn’t for ceremonial purposes and that he was both willing, able, and allowed by law to smack you silly with it.
Anyways, we Dutch have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with our royal overlords. On the one hand, we cannot get enough of royal gossip and royal festivities. The entire country goes eleven types of nuts on Koninginnedag (‘Queensday’, April 30th), even if it is just an excuse for young children to sell all their junk on the streets and for anyone over fifteen to get royally wasted. We also like to share a collective sense of indignation and/or empathy when some tragedy befalls anyone in the royal family, because despite having a well-earned reputation for being a sober people, we are not above vicariously experiencing the emotions of people we’ve never met in real-life. That’s why you can turn on the news after a calamity like prince Friso ending up comatose after a skiing accident and see complete strangers publicly weeping over it.
Then again, perhaps there is reason for us lowly plebeians to keep an eye on the people with the funny hats, because sometimes their zany antics are more than just a quasi-fictional soap opera. I already said that being a Dutch royalty is mostly a ceremonial position, but that doesn’t stop some of them from mingling in affairs that aren’t about kinging it up. All I’m saying is, when the list of your controversies almost warrants its own Wikipedia page, you might want to think twice about letting this person leave his home without surveillance. Prince Bernhard, grandfather of king-to-be Willem-Alexander (and father to God knows how many illegitimate children), was trice the bad-ass you’ll ever dream of being; professional war-pilot, full-time defender of Mother Nature, and part-time taker of bribes that he was.
With a grandfather like that, the upcoming king has big shoes to fill. Because following the recent announcement of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to resign from the throne, 2013 will introduce a new phase in Dutch monarchy. Come April 30th this year, after 122 years spend under matriarchs (Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix, respectively), Willem-Alexander will ascend the Dutch throne as King of the Netherlands, making sure that monarchy equals fallocracy once again.
We at DutchReview salute you, King Willem-Alexander! May your reign be long and prosperous, and may your queen give life to many strong and virile heir-apparants! (Also, please don’t steal our money and wives).