On April 30, 150 members of the lower house, 75 members of the senate and a whole host of dignitaries and civil servants will make the trek from The Hague to Amsterdam to attend the inauguration of the new king, Willem-Alexander.
But why will they do this? After all, The Hague is the centre of power in the Netherlands. The royal family members live in and around The Hague. Why does the change of monarch necessitate this mass day out?
The answer dates back to 1813, the year the Dutch finally managed to beat the French and recover their country. Willem Frederik, Prince of Orange, was invited back from his adventures in England become the first Dutch King. Prior to this, the republic of the Netherlands was ruled by a ‘stadhouder’ or leader.
Willem landed at Scheveningen and was invited to The Hague to be declared Sovereign, but he insisted on going to Amsterdam. The popular uprising against Napoleon began in Amsterdam and the elite in the city were none too keen on anointing a King.
Willem’s English advisor, foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, advised him to seek the approval of Amsterdam by stroking the population’s ego.
And so on December 2 1813, Willem accepted the sovereignty of the Netherlands in Amsterdam. When he was welcomed in The Hague the following day, mayor Jan Slicher said in his speech: ‘Amsterdam is the voice of the whole of the Netherlands’.
The inauguration took place on March 29 and 30 1814, again in Amsterdam. In the meantime, a new constitution had been drawn up, including an article stating that the inauguration of the monarch should take place in Amsterdam.
The city had never been very keen on the Oranjes, and they were reluctant to see the family elevated so high. Keeping Amsterdam sweet was deemed essential to introducing a monarchy.
The festivities took place over two days, rather than the one day of later events, because it was a new beginning for the country. The new constitution was signed on March 29 and the new King inaugurated on March 30. Both ceremonies were held in the Nieuwe Kerk.
(Based on an article in Ons Amsterdam)
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