Greg Shapiro: I Married a Monarchist
Friday 01 February 2013
Queen's Day will be extra special and extra orange this year, so can Greg Shapiro cancel his tickets to the US?
Monday was a busy day: KLM’s special offer for cheap tickets was about to expire! And my wife got a news update: ‘Queen Beatrix is about to make a big announcement!’
As we speculated what the big speech would be, we finalized our KLM tickets to America. We travel during the ‘May Vacation,’ and it will just fit… the only catch is we’ll miss Queen’s Day. Oh, well. The American in me says ‘No problem! It’s overrated, overcrowded, and I’m over it.’ But…
Queen Beatrix announced that she’d be transferring the crown to Willem Alexander - on Queen’s Day. D’oh! But we’d just booked our tickets to America! This Queen’s Day is going to be like a normal Queen’s Day combined with a Dutch World Cup Final / Gay Pride Day all rolled into one big Orange Spectacle and covered with stroopwafels.
It’s then I realized just how big a monarchist my Dutch wife really is. She cried during the speech, just like she did during the royal wedding in 2002. I looked on, trying to get in the mood. But the nearest I got was a state of wonder.
It’s times like these I realize my Americanness. My wife was crying tears because her beloved Queen had done such an admirable job for so long. But mostly because we’d just booked tickets to America for Queens Day.
America doesn’t have a royal family. True, we adore our Hollywood dynasty, but it’s not the same. The closest we have is the First Family, inconstant and changeable. Truth be told, if you’d offer the Obamas a royal family, they’d probably say yes. Finally, someone to take over all that ribbon cutting! But there’s no figurehead, no parental symbol, no lifelong head of state.
Head of state
Even as a Dutch transplant, I love the Queen. I love it that she’s technically the Head of State. So – when the Prime Minister resigns – he has to hand in his resignation to the Queen. And – technically – she can say ‘I do not accept,’ as she did in 1999. ‘But I can’t work with these people,’ fumed the PM. The Queen replied ‘Why don’t you try again?’ And it worked.
Queen Beatrix is great for international trade. Even when Geert Wilders was going off on rants about head scarves, Queen Bea visited the United Arab Emirates wearing a head scarf. Around that same time, Muslim women’s football teams were banned from competition because their head scarves were too loose.
But now – thanks to a new headscarf design by Dutchwoman Cindy van den Bremen – they can compete again. And now the headscarf is even being sold in Hema. So Geert Wilders can rant about headscarves and oppression all he wants, but if there’s money to be made… Queen Beatrix will be there to uphold those traditional Dutch values.
Will I be such a big fan of King Willem-Alexander? Definitely. As a Dutchman, I have to be. But as an allochtoon, I love the fact that his wife Maxima, being Argentine by birth, is allochtoon, too.
Greg Shapiro is a comedian, with Dutch and American nationality