Around 50 people were injured when panic broke out during the Remembrance Day commemorations attended by thousands of people in central Amsterdam on Tuesday evening.
The stampede began when a man dressed in a hat and long black coat began shouting during the two minutes silence at the end of the ceremony.
He was arrested, as was a second man who dropped a suitcase, adding to the confusion.
The bizarre behaviour of the man in black caused the crowd near him to try to get away. Safety barriers fell and several people were crushed. Most people received superficial injuries but several were taken to hospital with broken bones.
Eyewitness Ana wrote on the DutchNews.nl website: ‘I don’t think he was mentally disturbed. I think he was just drunk. He was making his way through the crowd, looking for his bike or something, a jewish guy with a beard and sideburns. He was the only one speaking to himself saying something about ‘fiets’ (bike) and a few people asked him to shut up.
‘He passed so close by me that I could smell the alcohol. A minute later, when he reached the people in the front of the crowd, he screamed something. People freaked out and pulled back. We first thought that someone jumped from a building or that it was a terrorist attack. Seeing those hundreds of people pulling back towards us with such a force was really scary.’
As the stampede began, Queen Beatrix, crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Máxima were quickly ushered away by officials. Once it was apparent there was no danger to the royal family they returned to the Dam and the ceremony resumed with the playing of the national anthem.
Security around the royal family has been tightened up since last year when a 38-year-old man drove his vehicle into the crowd watching the royal motorcade arrive at the Queen’s Day celebrations in Apeldoorn.