Final preparations are being made in Amsterdam for the investiture of new king Willem-Alexander on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by representatives of 18 foreign royal houses.
On Monday afternoon, Willem-Alexander and his family arrived at the palace on the Dam to rehearse the formal investiture in the Nieuwe Kerk.
On Monday night guests will attend a banquet at the Rijksmuseum hosted by queen Beatrix. A farewell broadcast to the nation from Beatrix will be broadcast at 20.30.
Amsterdam is expecting some 800,000 people will flock to the capital for the celebrations which take place on what is traditionally the busiest day of the year – the Queen’s Day holiday.
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has already warned there is only room for 25,000 people in the area close to Dam square, where the new king is set to appear on the balcony of the royal palace at 10.30.
However, giant screens have been set up in various places throughout the city, including the Museumplein, so people can follow events. Nos is broadcasting 14 hours of royal programming.
Van der Laan has been keen to ensure the celebrations are as public as possible. ‘You cannot remove all risks, you can only manage them,’ the mayor told the Parool earlier this month.
The investiture coincides with the traditional Queen’s Day celebrations, most of which are going ahead as usual, turning the Dutch capital into a giant flea market and a sea of orange.
Security will be strict but streets will be closed for as short a time as possible. ‘The people of Amsterdam must not get the idea the city is being closed off for a private party for VIPs,’ the mayor said.
People living in streets immediately behind the church have been asked to vacate their homes for the duration of the event and will be paid €500 compensation.
10,000 police officers from all over the country are on duty including 160 teams of riot police. The police will be able to call on 2,000 soldiers who are standing by as back-up in case of trouble, the Parool said. Queen Beatrix’ investiture in 1980 was marked by widespread riots.
Police have been told to take a relaxed approach to incidents. ‘They have to be aware of the impact of acting and not acting,’ Van der Laan told the paper. ‘One of the lessons we learned from 1980 was how quickly things can escalate.’
Six areas away from the immediate city centre have been set aside for anti-monarchy protests. The national republican organisation has two licences for demonstrations, including at the Waterlooplein near the town hall.
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