Plaudits for queen, predictions for king: What the papers say
Tuesday 29 January 2013
The papers are fulsome in their praise for the queen and positive about the roles prince Willem-Alexander and princess Máxima will play as future monarchs.
The Telegraaf in its editorial calls Beatrix ‘the perfect queen’. The style of the departing monarch was less warm and personal than her mother’s but her reign leaves a modernised and secure monarchy, for which the Dutch people owe her ‘a great debt of gratitude’, the paper writes.
The next king will have to consolidate what his mother has achieved but also put his personal stamp on the monarchy. What he must not do is ‘give in to calls to make the monarchy a purely ceremonial affair’, the Telegraaf warns, before ending with a resounding: ‘Thank you, your Majesty. And now: Long live the king!’
The Volkskrant asked a number of people about the prospects of the new king and queen. According to Vorsten Royale editor Justine Marcella, Willem-Alexander will probably be a ‘business king’ , like Willem II before him, and go on trading missions. ‘Humour and spontaneity will be his big assets,’ she says.
Journalist Jan Kuitenbrouwer says the prince’s earlier reputation as a ‘bit of a scatterbrain who did not seem to be very interested in being king’ gave him hopes of a discussion about the continuation of the monarchy.
‘But Máxima put paid to that,’ Kuitenbrouwer acknowledges regretfully. ‘She turned him into an ambitious and able administrator so I’m afraid we will be stuck with the monarchy for a long time to come’.
Trouw calls the reign of Beatrix ‘hewn in stone’. This refers to the fact that the queen, herself an enthusiastic sculptor, is given to making figures which ‘have their feet firmly on the ground’.
The queen wanted to ground the monarchy as well, and connect with as large a section of society as possible. A professional herself, Beatrix exacted professionalism from her staff which was no longer made up of superannuated aristocrats but of people ‘who could do a good job of work’.
On a more frivolous note, Trouw remarks that the queen also sculpted herself. ‘The characteristic, unmoveable hairdo that hasn’t changed since time immemorial and the big shoulder fillings made her eminently suitable for portrayal in paintings and on stamps. She thought of everything. (..) Her image clearly said: this is your queen.’
NRC spoke to a number of political insiders. Former minister Jan Pronk calls Beatrix the ‘CEO of the Netherlands who takes her job very seriously indeed. Juliana was a mother, she radiated warmth’.
The ministers who traditionally visit the queen a number of times a year, quickly learnt to come prepared. There was no idle chit-chat and you had better know what you were talking about because she always knew everything, down to the smallest detail.
The paper quotes former minister Bram Stemerink. ‘ She was interested to the point where I thought well, that doesn’t even interest me anymore. I knew she made every effort to be informed and if she could best her guest, she would. Not that it made any difference. The queen is a stamping machine. Those visits would give me a lot of unnecessary work.’
NRC expects the new king and queen to continue where Beatrix left off and further modernise the court. The ladies-in-waiting will probably have to go, the paper quotes a friend of Willem-Alexander’s as saying.
All the papers comment on the prince’s easy, companionable behaviour. ‘I remember one Koninginnedag someone shouted 'I love you, Willem-Alexander’ and he answered 'I love you too, darling'. I don’t think Beatrix would have been as spontaneous,’ historian Dorine Hermans comments.
Elsevier’s editorial focuses on the fact that the monarchy has gradually become less of a political force: ‘Her role in the formation of the government was taken over by parliament this year and there is not one decision that can be made without the consent of the goverment,’ the magazine writes.
Nevertheless, the queen has managed to maintain support for the monarchy by doing ‘an impeccable job’, the magazine says.