King Willem-Alexander and queen Máxima have begun a short visit to the Antillean islands as part of a ‘get to know you’ trip to the Dutch Caribbean.
The couple arrived on the independent island of Sint Maarten on Wednesday morning local time and will spend a day each on Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire, which have the status of local councils.
They will later spend two days each on Curaçao, also independent since 2010, and Aruba which has been independent within the kingdom since 1986.
The relationship between the Netherlands and its former colonies is not always easy, Nos television points out.
In September, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk ordered the governer of Sint Maarten to carry out an integrity investigation into local government on the island because of concerns about gambling, prostitution and people trafficking.
The political situation on Curaçao is still precarious following the murder of local politician Helmin Wiels. And the inhabitants of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire have been hit by tougher Dutch spending rules.
Prime minister Mark Rutte also caused disquiet during a visit in the summer when independence protests were being heard more loudly. ‘Just give us a ring and we’ll organise it,’ the prime minister is quoted as saying.
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